By Kim Dannies
Spontaneous summer food
With picnic season in full summer swing, some of our favorite standards may be starting to get a bit boring. Not sure that I can get excited about another potato or coleslaw salad this month. Enter White Bean & Chorizo Shrimp Salad, a Basque-inspired stunner, and spicy Peanut Noodle Chicken Salad. Simple to whip up—about 20 minutes cooking time—they pack and travel well, and are guaranteed to please even the most finicky al fresco eater.
Both recipes feature a commercial dressing, which I embrace for ease of execution and spontaneity during the busy summer weeks ahead. Other good picnic sides are kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables), pickled onions and beets, and a variety of nuts and veggie chips and something chocolate. The goal for August is to get you—and some delicious food—out of the kitchen and into the sunshine as fast as possible.
White Bean & Chorizo Shrimp Salad
In a colander, rinse 2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans. Boil 1 pound of shrimp.
Cube cut 3 ounces of chorizo sausage into tiny bites. Rough chop 2 ounces of pitted kalamata olives. Slice 1 cup grape tomatoes in half. Crumbled 2 ounces of feta cheese. Add all ingredients to a container and toss lightly with Brianna’s Caesar Dressing. Top with fresh arugula.
Peanut Noodle & Chicken Salad
In a baking dish arrange 2-4 chicken breasts. Add ½ cup chicken stock and cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. (Good idea to do this ahead.)
Cook 1 pound of fettuccini noodles; drain in a colander. In a large prep bowl, mix together 2/3 cup of coconut milk with 2/3 cup of Sunja’s Medium Spicy (or other commercial brand) peanut sauce. Using tongs, gently toss the fettuccini with the sauce. Add 2 cups of shredded carrots or broccoli. If the noodles seem a bit dry, add more sauce. Shred desired amount of chicken and add to the noodles. Top with chopped scallions and pea shoots.
Super Gluten-Free Brownies
For a quick chocolate fix, try Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free brownie mix. They have a super fudge flavor with a slightly cake-like texture. These are my favorite brownies, hands down. I bake them for 40 minutes in a pan half the size recommended on the package directions for a perfect picnic brownie.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.