There's no better way to spend a summer day than with a light picnic lunch. Normally its enjoyed at a beach or a park but sometimes it happens right on your living room floor. Wait what-you might ask?! But yes you read that right. My boyfriend and I are in the process of moving (to MAUI!!!!!) and since he sold all of his furniture we have no kitchen table, no bar stools, no coffee table, no nada! So instead of complaining about our lack of furniture, I decided to embrace it and spread out a big blanket in the living room and pretend all of our meals are picnics! So why not make some of my favorite picnic food...Starting with my Mom's classic pasta salad and my favorite vegetarian sandwich!
This pasta salad was a summer staple growing up. Its not pretentious, but just good ole American pasta salad chock full of veggies and finished with a zesty Italian dressing. My mom made either this pasta salad or her equally amazing potato salad for every big BBQ or pool party and its always a hit with both adults and children!
You begin by chopping up artichoke hearts (I purchased a jar of spicy flavored ones just to add a little surprise heat), cherry tomatoes, black olives, steamed broccoli, and green onions. Toss that together with precooked pasta that has been cooled. I like to use tri-colored rotini to make the pasta salad more colorful and fun but feel free to use whatever small pasta you have on hand.
Now of course you need some cheese. My mom always just used classic cubed cheddar cheese. While you could substitute a more fancy cheese like feta or goat cheese, I like to stick to the basics as well. Maybe its because I grew up eating it this way, but I think the texture of the cheddar cheese adds a hearty bite to the otherwise light salad. Plus its easier to get your kiddos to eat it this way as well!
Then add a couple tablespoons of Salad Supreme Seasoning...that's the secret ingredient that packs so much zesty flavor! Salad Supreme can be found in your spice aisle and its a blend of Romano cheese, sesame and poppy seeds, and spices like garlic, red pepper, and paprika.
Finally, you just add your favorite store bought Italian dressing, toss it all together, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. How simple is that?! I like to add a little less than the full amount of the dressing at first and let it marinate it in the refrigerator overnight; then an hour before serving, I add the rest of the dressing so the pasta salad stays more moist and juicy.
Momma Ri's pasta salad is great on its own for a quick lunch, perfect alongside the traditional bbq grub, but if your a veggie like me-I think you will enjoy it the most alongside my Cucumber and Boursin Baguette Sandwich.
I ate this sandwich at least once a week when I lived in Switzerland. I made up the combination because any excuse to spread amazing cheese from Switzerland onto their fresh baked bread and call it a lunch, I was all about!
You just spread Boursin cheese onto a crunchy baguette and sprinkle with some chopped green onions. You could also sub goat cheese, but I like Boursin because it has the garlic and herbs mixed right in.
Now add a layer of thinly sliced tomatoes and English cucumbers and there you have it. The perfect crispy, crunchy, chewy, creamy vegetarian sandwich of your dreams. Sorry I got carried away there, but believe me its surprisingly that good!
This is the perfect portable picnic lunch to bring to wherever your little heart desires, even if its just to your living room floor ;)
Momma Ri's Pasta Salad
1 12 oz box of tri-color rotini pasta
1 cup chopped broccoli, steamed
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons Salad Supreme Seasoning
8 oz Italian Dressing (Wishbone Italian Recommended)
Cook pasta according to package, drain and place in refrigerator to cool down.
Toss together pasta, vegetables, and cheese. Sprinkle with Salad Supreme and 6 oz of Italian Dressing and mix well.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. An hour before serving, add in last 2 oz of dressing and place back in refrigerator to ensure a moist pasta salad.
* The measurements are approximate. Feel free to add more, less, or swap out with your favorite veggies and use desired amount of dressing.
Cucumber and Boursin Baguette Sandwich
Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese
English Cucumber, sliced
Green Onions, chopped
Spread both slices of baguette bread with a generous amount of Boursin cheese. Sprinkle with green onions. Top with slices of both cucumber and tomato.