What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with good friends in a beautiful park, complete with a lunch feast! My college girlfriends and I got together with our kids for a full day of eating and playing. Instead of buying your typical macaroni salad or potato salad in the grocery store, I wanted to make a few items and figured my friends could be the guinea pigs. My contribution to our feast was a rice salad, a pasta salad and goat cheese rounds with honey.
The salads had an added benefit in that I could make them the night before. I love that most salads get better as they sit, so making them ahead is sometimes the best way to go I started with the Rice Salad. The title is deceiving since there are many other components that go into this dish. Peas, celery, onion, pimentos, and protein from hard boiled eggs and a can of tuna. The dressing is made with mayo, mustard, sweet pickle relish, lemon juice, and dill. It's moist, filling, and hearty. The slightly sweet pickle relish is balanced by the pimentos, onion, and dill.
The second salad is called Spiral Pasta Salad. If you are like me, you're probably bored of the basic pasta salad with Italian dressing. Not that I would turn it down, but I was ready for something with a twist. This dressing is made with oil and vinegar (I know, the starting point for Italian dressing) but then taken to a new level with the addition of ketchup, onion, sugar, salt, ground mustard, paprika, garlic powder, and oregano. As with the rice salad, this pasta salad was sweet, but with a tang from the onion, vinegar, and mustard. The base is pasta, celery, tomato, green pepper, and shredded carrots (another slightly sweet item). The kids loved this one. Both of these salads have a slightly sweet element, but when feeding children, that is never a bad thing.
The simplicity and distinct flavors of the Creamy Goat Cheese with Honey won over my heart and stomach. I actually did make a portion of this the night before, but waited to drizzle the honey on the day of. I chopped up some left-over pecans I had in the freezer (freezing nuts extends their freshness), and combined them with cinnamon in a small bowl. Then cut a goat cheese round 12 portions, roll them into a ball, and coat them with the pecan and cinnamon mixture. After pressing down gently to form a disc shape, this is where I left these goat cheese morsels to rest overnight in the refrigerator.
The day of the picnic, I chopped up fresh rosemary, sprinkled it over the rounds, and brought the honey with me in the jar that contained the pimentos from the rice salad. Those little glass jars are quite handy! When we were ready to feast, I drizzled the goat cheese with honey and severed them with a fresh baguette. These cheese gems were both crunchy and creamy and when smeared on a torn piece of baguette, were divine. The food was fun, but the company was the best. My college friends and I had a blast laughing about old times while our kids made new memories together.
You may have noticed that all the recipes on this post came from a website called Allrecipes.com (ha ha). But seriously, a feature of theirs that I love, is the ability to put in ingredients you have on hand and search for recipes containing those ingredients. You can even exclude ingredients you don't want. I know there are several other websites that have this ability, but I tend to find a lot of interesting recipes on this website. It's a great way to use up what you have in your fridge and pantry!