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May 2002 Issue
Eating Outdoors
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

This dish is ideal picnic fare since it can be enjoyed either warm or cold. Just make sure you remember to bring along some forks!
  • 6 oz. sliced portabella mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 8 oz. fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 oz. dried penne pasta
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. mild vinegar -- like rice vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili pepper
  • 2 oz. shaved parmesan cheese -- optional
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the first six ingredients (mushrooms through salt) in an oven-proof baking dish. Toss well to coat. Bake for 30 minutes or until well-roasted, turning once while baking.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and reserve.

To make the sauce, combine the 1/4 cup olive oil with the 1/4 cup vinegar in a small saucepan. Whisk in the chili pepper and bring to a low simmer. Continue simmering until the liquid is reduced by about one third. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the roasted vegetables, cooked pasta and hot sauce. Toss well to coat. If desired, sprinkle shaved parmesan over the top and serve either warm or cool.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes


Mini Banana Bread Loaves

This tasty banana bread makes a perfect picnic snack or dessert. Simply wrap a loaf tightly in waxed paper and seal the ends to keep it moist.
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts
  • Cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Using an electric mixer, combine the bananas, orange juice, olive oil, eggs and sugar. Add the whole wheat and all purpose flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Stir in the walnuts to evenly distribute them.

Spray two mini loaf pans with cooking spray and divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake the bread for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Yields: Each loaf serves 4 people
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Of course, it takes more than great food to make a great picnic. Make sure you don't forget these handy things when you're off to enjoy the great outdoors:

If you Plan on Grilling:

  • Grill or hibachi
  • Charcoal and wood chips
  • Fire starter or lighter fluid
  • Matches and/or a lighter
  • Barbecue tongs, meat fork and spatula
  • Serving platters
  • Baking soda for fire safety
  • Oils, seasonings or other ingredients to create the recipes you plan on preparing
After you've got all that, it's time to find a beautiful day and a perfect spot for a picnic. Enjoy!
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