I am not a fan of picnics.
Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish—when your people spend years wandering the desert, you are more inclined to want to eat inside with air conditioning. And without bugs.
But part of it is because I also dread picnic food. Though there are ways to make gourmet picnics, too many people still go with the same old worn out picnic fare. Leaden fried chicken, greasy potato chips, and cookies from a cardboard box really don’t do it for me.
What does do it for me is this light pasta salad. The extra olive oil in the dressing keeps the salad from drying out when you are playing Frisbee, and the shape of the pasta holds the herbs and crunchy pine nuts.
Mix up the herbs—I especially love basil, but dill, mint, and cilantro are all bright flavors that complement the sharp lemon taste. This is light enough to let you enjoy your afternoon, but filling enough to sustain you through the day. Even better, this dish feeds about 10 people for just a little bit of money. That way, you can spend your money on that sunscreen that you will need if you eat this outside.
How about an indoor picnic?
Lemon Herb Picnic Pasta
Makes 10 to 12 servings
- 2 pounds corkscrew or other pasta shape, cooked and drained
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- 4 tablespoons lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups pine nuts
- 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, dill, cilantro, mint, etc.), cleaned and chopped
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
- Salt, to taste
- Combine cooked pasta, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl; mix well.
- Chill at least an hour, or up to overnight.
- When ready to serve, add pine nuts, herbs, and cheese.