Who doesn’t love picnic food!? Picnic Pasta Salad is the perfect pack-up-and-go dish; tasty, filling, and delicious. No worries about the summer heat; this pasta is sour cream and mayo free!
Living in a large city, more particularly, an apartment building on a busy street, getting out of the thick of things and into a little bit of nature is important. We really don’t do it as often as we should, but it’s something I hope to incorporate a little more into our weekends this summer. I’ve been toying with the idea of picnic related food for some time now. I’m looking for foods that are wholesome and hearty, yet light and refreshing. I also need picnic foods that are sun-safe and vegetarian. This Picnic Pasta Salad fits the bill!
The last time we were on a picnic, I packed up an olive-oil based pasta salad in mason jars as well as grilled vegetable pressed sandwiches. Along with some veggies, cold drinks, and fresh-baked cookies for dessert. It turned out to be quite the meal! There’s just something really neat about eating outside near the water; fighting with the pigeons and seagulls to stay away from your picnic table, and of course, good company.
Scarborough Bluffs, which is just east of Toronto, is a great place to picnic. There’s walking trails that wind around the water’s edge with picnic tables and outdoor barbecues randomly placed about. There’s lots of shaded areas if that’s your thing. And, when you’re done with your picnic, you can take your things back to your car and take a long walk on the beach to soak up some of the sun. The last time we were there, we brought a kite which made for a very fun afternoon.
I often see picnickers close to where we live. Just south of us, there’s a beautiful open area with fantastic views of the city. Riverdale Park is highly visited and can be quite crowded and touristy, so if you’re going to visit, please don’t do so on a long weekend if you plan on quiet time. Weekday evenings throughout the summer are a great time to visit. Grab a cold drink from a nearby coffee shop and sit at the top of the hill and watch the world go by, or take a walk along a path that leads over the highway into a very wooded area which hosts a small farm. By the way, there’s some great ice cream to be had just north of the petting farm!
For this particular recipe, I decided to use simple ingredients. Broccoli was a must for a few reasons. First, I knew it was hold up well in the salad; it added fresh taste and a slight crunch factor; it added colour, and more importantly, it added broccoli! (John.e loves broccoli and cannot get enough of it. Anytime I can use it in a recipe, I know the recipe will be well received!) Next, I needed to add depth. Sun dried tomatoes have such a unique flavour – they’re chewy, tomato-y , and salty. The simple addition of olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and parmesan cheese rounded out the entire salad.
Picnic Pasta Salad is not only delicious, affordable, and portable, but also most certainly will be the highlight of any intimate family picnic, or your annual summer family reunion. Your family and friends will be lining up for more (and the recipe!)
Picnic Pasta Salad
- 450 grams macaroni, cooked and cooked
- 2 cups broccoli florets, boiled in salted water for 4 minutes, drained and cooled
- 1 jar jarred sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, roughly chopped, oil reserved (270mL jar)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons onion, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside to cool.
- Par-boil broccoli florets; drain and set aside to cool (do not overcook the broccoli - you want the florets to still be firm)
- Pour the oil from the jarred sun dried tomatoes into a skillet and turn up the heat to medium. Add the minced onion immediately and cook, stirring well, for 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring well.
- Turn off the heat and add the chopped sun dried tomatoes. Stir into the oil mixture and allow to sit to slightly cool - about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl. Pour the oil mixture over the pasta and toss to coat.
- Add the broccoli to the pasta and toss to incorporate.
- Add the parmesan cheese and toss into the pasta salad.
- Serve immediately or store in a food safe container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- When ready to serve, toss, and top with parmesan cheese for garnish.