Impromptu picnics pop up the Wrightsville way, in your own backyard or along a scenic byway. Play it safe with your favorite food to go or prep it yourself with summers freshest ingredients. Our recipe for dining outdoors just got easier.
Concert Al Fresco Recipes
Pasta Primavera Salad with Artichoke Pesto
This crunchy, lemony salad is the perfect must on a hot summer day and no mayonnaise to spoil in the heat!
1 pound Israeli couscous pearl pasta or orzo, cooked al dente, drained, and chilled
3 stalks bok choy, rinsed and diced
3 scallions, sliced thin
cup artichoke hearts, diced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 large banana pepper, seeded and diced small
Zest of one lemon
For the Artichoke Pesto:
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 generous handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
cup artichoke hearts
3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
cup (+/-) olive oil
Combine all the pesto ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor. Pulse until well combined. With machine running, drizzle in the oil until a smooth and thick, but pourable, consistency develops. Set aside.
Prepare the salad ingredients. Combine all the prepared salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the pesto. Pack into portable containers and chill until ready to eat. If not serving the same day, keep the salad ingredients and pesto separately in the refrigerator. Warm the pesto to room temperature before tossing with salad.
Chunky Gazpacho with Grilled Chicken and Cilantro Oil Garnish
1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
23 ounces tomato juice
cup white wine vinegar
cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into one-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not over process.
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. Diced avocado also makes a great garnish.
For the Grilled Chicken:
cup lemon juice
cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 chicken breast or 4 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a wide, shallow bowl. Marinate the chicken breasts or thighs in the refrigerator in the lemon juice combination for two hours or overnight. Grill the chicken until cooked through, about four minutes per side. Cool and dice. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Cilantro Oil Garnish:
1 bunch cilantro leaves (about 1 loose cups)
1 teaspoon salt
teaspoon black pepper
1 cups olive oil
Place the cilantro, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Add cup olive oil and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in additional oil until a smooth sauce is formed.
Transfer to a squirt bottle for easy use and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for an hour before serving.
4 tablespoons unsalted
butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon, softened
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 small or 1 large yellow summer squash, seeded and finely diced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line eight- or nine-well muffin tin with paper liners and spray with nonstick cooking spray to ease removal from the paper (this is not essential, just a nice touch).
In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg and sugar and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the yogurt, milk, remaining four tablespoons of butter, lemon juice, zest and vanilla until well incorporated, about 30 seconds. Fold the wet ingredients and the squash into the dry mixture until moistened, careful not to over-mix.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each halfway.
Bake until the muffins are set and golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about eight full-sized muffins or 24 mini muffins. If making mini muffins, reduce bake time to 13 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.