Monday, November 4, 2013

Picnic on the Parkway

We declared last Sunday our fall day to drive up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway, stop at our favorite overlooks, and pack a picnic. Back in July, as a bridesmaid gift, my friend Taryn surprised us with picnic backpacks which include wine glasses, a wine bottle holder, a cheese board, and cutlery. I have been so excited to break out my picnic pack, and this Sunday was the perfect day to do just that. 

We declared a "St Lucia" day, meaning no iPhones or electronic devices except for my camera. It was fabulous and just what we needed. While I was initially (I'm being completely honest here) tempted to swing by the Fresh Market and purchase my favorite Rotisserie Chicken Salad, a container of olives, cheese, and a fresh baguette, I decided to make our picnic sides at home. I absolutely love tarragon and chicken together, and this chicken salad was superb. The tomato mozzerella salad is easy to assemble, and the potato salad takes a little more effort but is totally worth it. The potato salad was Josh's favorite of the three. At the end of the day, I was happy I put in the extra effort. I've included a few of my best photos from the day. 
This Cabot reserve cheese was a gift from my friend's parents brought down from Vermont, and the best cabot we've tasted! I loved putting a slice of cheese on an apple slice topped with chicken salad. 

Tarragon Chicken Salad 
from Real Simple magazine

3 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1/4 cup chopped tarragon 
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
2 sliced scallions 
2 sliced celery stalks 
1/2 cup pecans (optional) 
1/4 cup craisins (optional)
kosher salt 
black pepper 

Heat oven to 400° F. Rub the chicken breasts with oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until cooked through, 14 to 16 minutes; let cool, then shred. In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, tarragon, and lemon zest and juice. Fold in the chicken, scallions, and celery; season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Serve on a croissant or with crackers 

 Picnic-Friendy Tomato Mozzarella Basil Salad 
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved 
8 ounces fresh “mini” mozzerella pearls 
4 tablespoons olive oil 
18 basil leaves, chopped 
½ teaspoon Kosher salt 
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper 

Add the cherry tomatoes and mozzerella cheese to a medium bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and mozzerella. Add the basil, salt, and pepper, and gently toss all the ingredients. 

Provencal Potato Salad 
from one of my FAVORITE bloggers - simplyrecipes
2 lbs fingerling potatoes (ideally those tiny potatoes that are no more than an inch or so long) 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1/4 cup chopped parsley 
1 Tbsp capers 
1/4 cup green olives, sliced 

Dressing ingredients: 
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
1 teaspoon herbes de provence 
1 teaspoon anchovy paste 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
1/2 cup olive oil 

Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are just tender when speared with a fork or sharp knife, about minutes. 

While the potatoes are cooking, prep the other ingredients and make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, herbes de provence, anchovy paste, and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whisking the whole time to create an emulsion. 

When the potatoes are ready, strain them from the pot. Let them cool just enough so you can handle them without burning your hands. Cut them in half. In a large bowl toss the still warm potatoes with the vinaigrette, garlic, parsley, capers and green olives. Chill for a couple of hours. Let come to room temperature to serve.

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