Kitchen Focus

Now that the April showers are over, the May flowers are on their way ... and warmer weather and opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Take advantage of it by packing a simple lunch and finding a nice picnic spot to enjoy.

There are a couple of things to consider when planning a picnic lunch.

  • Choose dishes that can be served cold or at room temperature.
  • Pick out a spot in advance -- park benches and picnic tables are especially nice if you're dressed for work.
  • Don't assume that the spot you've chosen will be clean ... bring a blanket to sit on even if you're not "roughing" it!
  • Pack your lunch in an insulated container or keep it in a refrigerator until you are ready to eat.
  • Try to avoid highly perishable foods for brown-bagging ... this is not the time to favor sushi!

In the spirit of spring and all it has to offer, here are some recipes to enjoy in the great outdoors!

Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella & Turkey Wrap

The ingredients for this tasty wrap come straight from a favored deli on the East Coast. One word describes it: YUM!
  • 1 10-inch flour tortilla
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced smoked turkey
  • 3 generous slices fresh mozzarella
  • 4-6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes -- patted dry

Lay the tortilla on a flat surface. If it's at all stiff, microwave it for 15-30 seconds to soften it enough for wrapping. Arrange the remaining ingredients on the tortilla and tightly wrap it into a burrito with two closed ends. Using a sharp knife, cut it into two pieces and wrap tightly in waxed paper to make it picnic-ready!

  • Yields: 1 wrap
  • Preparation Time: 8 minutes

Cucumber Salad

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion -- thinly sliced
  • Salad greens

Run the tines of a fork lengthwise down the side of an unpared cucumber; cut it into thin slices. Mix the vinegar, water, sugar and salt; pour the mixture on the cucumber and onion. Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, drain the salad and serve on fresh salad greens.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus chilling time

Pear and Watercress Salad

  • 2 bunches watercress -- washed, stemmed and into pieces
  • 2 ripe, firm pears -- peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 6 scallions -- trimmed and sliced
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) soft tofu
  • 1/4 cup plain soy milk or nonfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons cider or rasberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Place the watercress, pears, and green onions in a serving dish. In a blender or food processor, process the remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Fresh Tomato Salad

  • 3 large, ripe tomatoes -- cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic -- minced
  • 1 tablespoon tiny capers -- drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Arrange the tomato slices on a platter, overlapping them slightly. Dizzle with the olive oil. Scatter the garlic, capers, and oregano evenly over the tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Serve immediately or chilled.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
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