Let's have a picnic

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta, made with extra virgin olive oil, is a perfect summer picnic dish.

Chances are you’ve been to least one picnic this summer or hosted one yourself. Why not get in a few more picnics while the weather is perfect for dining al fresco and enjoying the tastes of summer?

If long days and warm temperatures haven’t prompted you to pack a picnic, get in the groove and get going. No matter if you picnic on your patio or head to a park or a beach, dining under the sky seems to make everything taste better.

There’s another big plus to cozying up to nature. Planning a picnic prompts the need to prepare delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes, and try new ones you may never have thought of before.

Look for recipes that are not just delicious but also make your life much easier. That’s the beauty of picnics. Some of the best picnic recipes can be whipped up fast and take the planning and prep work out of outdoor parties with friends.

What’s more, some easy recipes have more benefits than just tasting good –whip up recipes with extra virgin olive oil. You’ll be adding flavor galore and healthy living additives, too. Olive oil has impressive credentials. Lori Hackman, owner of the Oilerie Sun Prairie (www.facebook.com/TheOilerieSunPrairie), a European-style, taste-before-you-buy olive oil store, explained why there’s more to love about extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) than taste. “Every time you use olive oil in your cooking, you’re reaping extraordinary health benefits,” said Hackman.

Picnic History

Packing a picnic basket is not just a cooler or basket filled with food, it epitomes the feeling of “let’s go find the perfect outdoor spot to watch the world go by, eat and play for a while.”

So where did the idea of carrying good eats to an outdoor park shelter, picnic table, beach blanket or a ring of lawn chairs come from?

Historians have noted that the English word “picnic” comes from the French term “pique-nique.” That word was used as far back as the mid-1600s to describe people who brought their own wine when dining out. Picnics at this time were mostly for the wealthy. The wine was paired with elegant outdoor festivities and medieval hunting feasts.

Fast forward a few hundred years to Victorian times when picnics became more desirable for working men and women.

Some credit the popular British cooking and housekeeping expert Mrs. Beaton and her “Book of Household Management” for making picnics a doable feast for average folks.

Still, in her famed book, her way of rounding up a proper picnic would never make it today. Mrs. Beaton suggested picnics should be designed for at least 40 people. Then she suggested the bare bones menu would include cold roast beef, four meat pies, four roast chickens, two roast ducks, four dozen cheesecakes and one large cold plum pudding. Picnickers would down this with bottles of beer, claret, sherry and brandy.

Thank goodness today’s picnics can be get-togethers for any number of people, and wonderful dishes can easily be prepared in advance.

Picnic Food with Hidden Benefits

Whip up recipes with extra virgin olive oil and your family and friends will reap the extra benefits.

For hundreds of years people in Southern Europe have been enjoying a long life, which science has shown is due to consuming foods associated with a Mediterranean Diet. That includes legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and berries, vegetables, fish, and a high consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).

Today, a growing number of people throughout the world are experiencing similar health benefits from incorporating extra virgin olive oil into their own recipes. This has become a game-changer since research has linked extra virgin olive oil to potentially better health and wellness.

What Olive Oil Can Do For You

Extra freshness also matters. The Oilerie’s olive oils are truly farm-to-table. “They come from one family’s olive groves near Rome,” she said. “They grow the olives, make the oil and ship it directly to us. It’s as fresh as we can possibly get.”

She added, “Extra fresh oil is the highest grade and quality of extra virgin olive oil. It’s made from the first pressing of the olives and processed at low temperatures to lock in the integrity of the oil – they’re in a league of their own. That’s how the health benefits are kept intact.”

At the Oilerie Sun Prairie you can taste and learn about EVOO. Just pull the spigot on the big containers called fustis and taste away.

After you’ve made your selection, each bottle is hand-sealed and dated in front of you.

It’s no wonder the Mediterranean style diet, now recommended by governments, scientists and health professionals, is a nutritional gold standard.

Hackman explains, “This is pretty great stuff, just by adding the secret ingredient of olive oil.” But let’s get to the real question: Are these recipes delicious and will picnic guests love your recipes? “Absolutely!” says Hackman.

Add some new recipes to your traditional picnic fare and even your picky eaters will be happy. And you’ll be wishing it was summer all year long when you taste recipes with the olive oil difference, perfect for porch, patio, parks or the beach.

Unbeatable Picnic Recipes from the Oilerie Sun Prairie

Muffuletta Sliders

Ingredients

Mini Ciabatta Buns

Oilerie(R) Italian Olive Salad (in olive oil)

¼ Genoa salami (or hard salami)

¼ ham

¼ mortadella

¼ provolone cheese

Cut buns in half and lightly coat both sides of bread with olive salad. Layer thin slices of Genoa salami, ham, mortadella and provolone cheese.

This can be enjoyed cold or heat to taste. For an added kick, sprinkle with a little crushed red pepper to taste!

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

1/4 cup Oilerie(R) Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 medium tomatoes, diced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 loaf (1 pound) unsliced French bread

In a large bowl, combine oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and toss gently. Sprinkle with cheese. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Bring to room temperature before serving. Cut bread into 24 slices; toast under broiler until lightly browned. Top with tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

Spicy Lime and Jalapeño Coleslaw

4 cups shredded green cabbage (from about 1/2 large head)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded, minced

3 tablespoons Oilerie(R) Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl combine the cabbage, bell pepper, cilantro, and jalapeño in large bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Pour this dressing over the cabbage mixture, add salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 5 hours. Toss again before serving.

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