Tag Archives: picnic

Time for a Yummy Vegan Picnic!

It's summer and vegan picnic timeAttention all other seasons: summer kicks your booties!

With the weather warm, the flowers blooming, the sun sparkling and such an abundance of ripe fruits and tasty veggies available, it’s such a great time for a picnic. But when I add the word “vegan” to “picnic,” it creates terror in some of my carnivore friends. It’s pretty funny to watch. “But, but, but, what do you serve at a vegan picnic? Carrot sticks and raw broccoli?”  They look so horrified, so I usually respond with something like: “Of course not! We prefer cow patties sandwiched between pieces of tree bark. Duh!” Seriously, why are some people so flipped out about vegan food? It can be unbelievably delicious and a breeze to make, and bonus – it’s good for you, great for the environment, and even better for all the animals you’re saving.

To make things easier (and yummier) for your next picnic, here are my top 5 original creations of perfectly picnickable (that’s a word, right?) vegan dishes, and one spectacular summer beverage that will make your next outing out-of-this-world.

Pomegranate-Mango Guacamole

Mango-Pomegranate Guacamole and Chips

Hot damn, this guacamole will make your mouth so happy…even if you hate avocados (as my converting-carnivore husband and I do). Mmm, the lightly sweet mango and the unexpected tiny bright bits of pomegranate really make this guac amazing. Just pop it in a tupperware container and toss it in your picnic basket.

Thai Sweet Chili and Lime Edamame 

This has to be one of the easiest and yummiest thing you can whip up in 5 minutes. Can’t you just taste the lime, garlic and slightly piquant Thai sweet chili sauce? It’s lick-your-fingers good! This edamame dish is great at room-temp, so it’s perfect for summer outings.

Thai Spiced Peanuts and Smoky Spanish Cashews Smoky Spanish Spiced Cashews

No description needed, right? The title alone says it all – awesomeness awaits your taste buds! Throw these in a baggie and try your best not to eat them on the way to your picnic. (Note: do not try to eat just one. It is impossible).

Peanut-Sauce Glazed Noodles and Veggies

Let’s keep with the Thai theme, shall we? These Thai-style noodles with a truly delicious peanut sauce and sautéed veggies is an awesome cold dish, and it takes no time at all to make.

Grilled veggie sandwich with romesco sauce

Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Romesco Sauce

If you haven’t had romesco sauce before, please, do yourself a favor and drop whatever you’re doing and make it right this very second! Your taste buds will thank you! It’s a super easy-to-make thick sauce that’s unreal as a sandwich spread, especially with roasted veggies. You won’t believe that it’s made from blanched almonds, roasted red peppers, sourdough bread, balsamic vinegar and couple spices – they blend together to make a sauce that’s even better than the sum of its parts. It is truly spectacular and will probably make you moan with joy a little bit.

And lastly, Summer Sangria

This is my most favorite and dangerous drink! Throw your favorite ripe, juicy summer fruits in there – peaches, strawberries, blueberries, melons – and savor the refreshing flavors of the season in this happy little sangria. But watch out – the light, fruity flavors are so good that you probably won’t taste the alcohol at all, so if you’re like me, you’ll likely drink one (or four) more glasses than you can actually handle. So you may be stumbling home from your picnic, but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Happy picnicking!

Seriously spectacular sangria

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Grilled Corn, Sweet Potato, Black-Bean Salad with Cilantro Dressing

 

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Man, Mondays blow. Especially after epic summer weekends! If you could use something yummy to pick you up, this dish will do the trick.

So you guys know that I usually only publish my original concoctions, but this recipe that my friend gave me (thank you, Bonnie!) is so delicious and awesome that I have to share it. This gorgeous, healthy, nutrient-packed, summery vegan “potato salad” is oil-free, refreshing yet filling, yummy-beyond-words and totally unique.  The sweet potato provides a silky, flavorful foundation, while the grilled corn and chipotle give it a slightly smoky and caramelized flavor, which is perfectly balanced with the black beans and the sunny, herbaceous cilantro dressing. Not only is it tasty, but it’s also really good for you – the sweet potatoes are the best source of beta-carotene around (which strengths your immune system, gives you healthy skin and keeps your eyes happy), the beans are loaded with protein, and the corn has oodles of antioxidants. This makes a great meal or side dish.  And it’s super convenient since it can be made ahead and served cold, at room temp, or packed up for a picnic or potluck. Oh yeah, and it’s also gluten-free. I am IN LOVE with this salad. I bet you’ll like it as much as I do!

Grilled Corn, Sweet Potato, Black-Bean Salad with Cilantro Dressing

From fridge to table: about 20 minutes
Serves: about 10-12 as a side dish

roasted corn

1 clove garlic
2 tsp blended chipotle sauce*
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (if you want a colorful salad, use garnet yams)
4 ears corn, husked
1 can whole black beans, rinsed and drained
4 scallions (white and green parts) thinly sliced

* The original recipe (by Associated Press) called for a lot more chipotle – like enough for my tongue to spontaneously combust, detach from my mouth and dive into a pool for relief – so I adjusted it down. Oh, and to make the chipotle “sauce,” get a can of “chipotle in adobo sauce,” which you can find in the Hispanic food aisle at the grocery store, and whirl the contents in a blender. I like to freeze the blended sauce in ice cube trays for easy future use.

First, make the dressing. Use a blender to whirl together the garlic, chipotle sauce, shallot, cilantro and rice vinegar and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium pot with steamer basket, boil a little bit of water, add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until tender, which takes about 8 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and immediately toss them with half of the salad dressing (to soak up the goodness of all that lovely herbal flavor), then set aside to cool.

Heat your grill to medium and lightly mist the corn with a cooking oil spray. Grill the corn evenly until the kernels are golden and tender. Remove from grill and cool until you can handle the corn without lighting your fingers on fire. Placing the fat end of the corn on your cutting board, slice the kernels from the cob. Then add the corn to the potatoes, along with the black beans and scallions. Pour the remaining dressing on top (to taste) and blend well. Then stuff your face with this yummy dish, and don’t feel guilty for a second since it’s so incredibly healthy for you!

 

Healthy sweet potato salad