Today's post is a little different, instead of showing pics of all my hard work in the kitchen this time I decided to just show all the fun I had enjoying my gourmet picnic for two! The backdrop of The Jewel of San Diego aka La Jolla is just a tad bit prettier than my kitchen afterall!
So now for the mushy stuff...Last week was my six month anniversary with my handsome boyfriend and our first date was at Scripps Park in La Jolla so I thought a picnic there would be a fun way to celebrate an amazing past couple of months! But you know me, this picnic was not going to be any ordinary picnic of sandwiches and chips...I decided on a menu of my favorite Tomato Bruschetta to start, Shrimp Orzo Salad, Cowboy Cookies for dessert, and a Dirty Arnold Palmer to wash it all down!
Dirty Arnold Palmers have been my favorite cocktail lately...They are a perfect refreshing summertime cocktail! All that's to it is iced tea and some lemonade aka an Arnold Palmer plus some vodka and you have one Dirty Arnold Palmer. You can't have a picnic without iced tea and its even better spiked ;)
One of my favorite beach side snacks is bruschetta. When I was growing up we spent our summers in Newport Beach and my dad would always bike down to this small little Italian restaurant that made the BEST bruschetta and bring it back to the house for us to have as an afternoon snack after a long day at the beach. I like to continue this childhood tradition and make it myself and it couldn't be easier! Just chop up tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, mozzarella, and basil then stir in some olive oil and top it all on toasted baguette bread. Its a perfect starter for a gourmet beach picnic or even at a fancy dinner party!
OK before I show more droolworthy food photos, I just wanted to make you even more jealous of where I live :)
Now onto the delicious Shrimp Orzo Salad. Its perfect picnic food because it tastes best at room temperature so you don't have to worry about keeping it cold in a cooler. Its a light pasta salad yet satisfying because of the protein packed in the shrimp. And its definitely more gourmet than a basic pasta salad but almost just as easy to make!
The shrimp is roasted in the oven which really brings out its flavor and is much less stress than worrying about overcooking and flipping each shrimp in a saute pan.
What I really love about the salad is the Greek flavors of the orzo, feta, cucumber, and red onion. This is definitely a dish that needs to be added to your summer repertoire!
For dessert, I made a batch of one of my favorite cookies...Cowboy Cookies! Stay tuned for this yummy recipe coming soon :)
I think its so important to take time to relax by the sea....especially with the ones you love...and ESPECIALLY with some fancy picnic grub!
• 6-8 tomatoes, diced (discarding the center seedy area of the tomato because it tends to make the bruschetta more runny)
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
• 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
• 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
• 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, diced
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste
• toasted baguette slices
Combine all ingredients and stir in olive oil. Let refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld but bring to room temperature before serving. Top bruschetta mixture onto baguette to serve.
*This is a rough estimate of ingredients because I tend to make different size batches of bruschetta depending on how many people I'm serving or on tomato size. I just try to make it a fairly even ratio of ingredients but feel free to add more or less of certain ingredients to your own taste.
Shrimp Orzo Salad
• extra virgin olive oil
• 3/4 pound orzo pasta
• 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
• 2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and medium-diced
• 1/2 cup small-diced red onion
• 3/4 pound good feta cheese crumbled
• salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.
Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!
Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.
Dirty Arnold Palmers
2 oz unsweetened iced tea
2 oz lemonade
1 oz vodka
Pour ingredients into a glass filled with ice and stir well. Add lemon slices to garnish.