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Photos and recipe by Chef Jessica Bright
WATERMELON AND WATERCRESS SALAD WITH FETA
This refreshing salad is the perfect side for a picnic on a hot summer day. The flavor contrasts of the cool, sweet watermelon, peppery watercress, and tangy cheese come together to create a delicious salad.
- 1 MEDIUM SHALLOT
- 3 TBSP WHITE BALSAMIC VINEGAR
- 1 TSP DIJON MUSTARD
- ¼ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE 8 CUPS WATERCRESS
- 4 CUPS CUBED WATERMELON, IN 1” CUBES
- 1 CUP CRUMBLED FETA CHEESE
- ¼ CUP TOASTED WALNUTS
Dice the shallot and place in a pint jar with a lid. Cover shallots with the balsamic vinegar. Allow to soak for about 30 minutes so the shallots can mellow and the vinegar can infuse with the flavor. While the shallot marinates prepare the rest of the salad. Place the tender stems and leaves of the watercress in a large bowl and discard any large stems. Top the watercress with watermelon, then the cheese and nuts. Add mustard to the shallots and vinegar and whisk well, continuing to whisk while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Season as desired with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the watermelon when ready to serve. If you’ve packed it in a jar for your picnic, give the dressing a good shake before you pour it on. Serves 8.
FIRECRACKER BLT’S WITH BLUE CHEESE
Everyone loves a BLT; and Sriracha gives this version a fiery kick that is balanced with the creamy blue cheese spread. If you are making this for a group with milder palates, you can omit the Sriracha or substitute maple syrup, Dijon mustard, or BBQ sauce.
- 1 PACKAGE (12OZ) BACON
- 3 TBSP SRIRACHA
- 2 MEDIUM TOMATOES, SLICED
- 1 MEDIUM HEAD ROMAINE LETTUCE
- 2 LONG, THIN BAGUETTES
- 1/4 CUP BLUE CHEESE
- 1/4 CUP MAYONNAISE
- 1 TBSP FRESH CHIVES, MINCED
- 1/2 TSP FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with foil and place an oven-safe cooling rack on top. Place the bacon slices side-by-side on the cooling rack. Use a pastry brush to paint the top of the bacon with Sriracha and then bake in the oven until the desired crispness is reached, 10-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Mash the blue cheese with a fork and stir in the mayonnaise, chives, and black pepper. Cut the baguettes lengthwise and spread generously with the blue cheese mixture. Top with bacon, tomatoes, and lettuce. Wrap whole and cut on-site before serving or wrap in parchment paper, secure with twine, and cut into individual servings. Serves 8.
RED, WHITE, AND BLUE-CAKE IN A JAR
My grandmother was always famous for her strawberry angel food cake. I’ve changed her recipe a little to suit our patriotic picnic theme and love the convenience of serving it portioned in jars. This could also be served in a large bowl or a different size jar if you prefer. The angel food cake in this recipe can be freshly baked at home or purchased from a bakery.
- 1 ANGEL FOOD CAKE
- 6 OZ PACKAGE OF STRAWBERRY FLAVORED GELATIN MIX
- 1 CUP BOILING WATER
- 1 CUP ICE
- 1 PINT FRESH STRAWBERRIES, HULLED AND SLICED
- 2 CUPS FRESH BLUEBERRIES
- WHIPPED CREAM FOR GARNISH
- 8 PINT JARS
Cut cake into 2” squares. Put enough cake cubes to form a single layer in the bottom of each jar. Top the cake layer in each jar with a few blueberries. Empty the strawberry gelatin powder into a heat-proof glass measuring cup, add 1 cup of boiling water, and whisk to dissolve completely. Add 1 cup of ice to the measuring cup to measure accurately watch the increase in volume of the liquid in the measuring cup, stir to dissolve the ice and thoroughly mix. Add 2/3 of the remaining cake squares to the gelatin mixture and gently stir to mix. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 jars. Top the gelatin layer with the sliced strawberries divided among the 8 jars then top with the remaining plain angel food cake and blueberries. Place lids on the jars and refrigerate or store in a cooler until ready to enjoy. Serve topped with whipped cream and garnished with a fresh berry. Yield 8 servings.
Red and White Bakery twine is readily available at many stores and is the perfect embellishment for food on the 4th. In addition to being used to secure the parchment around the sandwiches, we tied a little around our juice bottles. It can also be used to attach a spoon to the dessert jar.
The adorable apple juice pictured here comes in apple-shaped bottles; we added red, white, and blue paper straw for holiday panache.
Blue and White enamelware plates are not only beautiful but also practically portable. They aren’t as fragile or as heavy as regular dinnerware and they are a colorful reusable option.