Anyway, part of our 4th was spent in beautiful Sonoma watching the parade run through the heart of downtown. Later that night we drove to Petaluma to watch the fireworks on the grassy fairgrounds field. The kids ate their share of ice cream and enjoyed playing with their inflatable action figures.
This holiday was especially memorable because I met my sister for the very first time! She is thirteen years my senior and full of energy and intelligence. It was wonderful to finally connect with her face to face as we celebrated with family, good food and of course some good ol' fashioned fireworks.
Below you will find recipes that we chose to use for our picnic. I made the grilled items the day before we left and then transported everything in our cooler. I got up at 3AM on the 4th to finish the rest of the cooking before we left for Sonoma. Some items did well in the transport, and some did not. Read on to find out.
Grilled-Vegetable Panini- July issue of Martha Stewart Living page 27
2 red bell peppers
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
coarse alt and freshly ground pepper
1 baguette, sliced 1/3 inch thick on a sharp bias into 16 long slices
pesto (recipe follows)
1. Heat grill to medium. Grill peppers, turning occasionally, until charred, about 18 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 10 minutes. Rub off skins, and remove ribs and seeds. Slice peppers into 1-inch-thick strips.
2. Meanwhile, lightly brush zucchini and squashes with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill until charred and tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
3. Spread bread slices with pesto. Tip 8 slices with vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Sandwich with remaining bread.
4. Heat a panini press. Lightly brush sandwiches with oil. Press until bread is golden brown and crusts are crisp, 2-4 minutes.
The beautiful veggies before grilling.
Ben's working hard at the grill.
The roasted red peppers look especially good and are tasty when grilled. After making these paninis, I am a huge fan of grilled veggies. Who says that a vegetarian can't enjoy a good barbecue?
Pesto-panini spread recipe from Martha Stewart Living page 27
Chop 1 small garlic clove in a food processor. Add 2 cups fresh basil and 1/4 cup pine nuts. Puree until smooth. With machine running, drizzle in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Pulse in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days). Makes 3/4 cup.
Here is one of our basil plants that I used for the pesto
I brought enough basil inside to double the pesto recipe so that we'd have extra for noodles, etc. I also found a summer squash that was ready to be picked so I brought it inside too. We forgot the pesto in the fridge at home so we had it on spaghetti when we returned. The grilled veggies would have been so good with the pesto!
Five-Bean Salad recipe from Martha Stewart Living page 27
1/2 cup each of five kinds of dried beans, such as cranberry, navy,giant white, cannellini, and kidney.
5 small dried bay leaves
1 medium carrot, cut crosswise into 5 pieces
1 celery stalk, cut crosswise into 5 pieces
12 oz haricots verts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 cups very small tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
for the dressing
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Make the salad: Cover beans with water in separate saucepans, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, let stand for 1 hour.
2. Drain, and return beans to their saucepans. Add a bay leaf, a piece of carrot, and a piece of celery to each pan, and cover with water by 2 inches.
3. Bring to a boil. Skim foam. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to each saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer vigorously until beans are tender, 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on size and age of beans. Drain, and let cool.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add haricots verts and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain, and run under fold water to stop the cooking process.
5. Make the dressing: whisk together vinegar and mustard. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Mix the salad: combine beans with haricots verts, herbs and tomatoes. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
The recipe said to use dried beans and I thought you could just use canned. Why not? It would be so much faster, right? No. Don't do it. No matter how much time you are trying to save (save the rescuing to someone else). The beans were soggy and they transported poorly as a result. When we opened up the picnic basket we found more of a soup than an salad.
Hoisin-Glazed Eggplant recipe from marthastewart.com
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
babyeggplants (1 1/4 pounds) or 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1-inch-thick slices and scored
- Heat grill to medium. In small bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce and 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.
- Halve eggplants lengthwise; slice a bit off the
skinside so they lie flat, and score both sides in a crisscross pattern.
- Brush both sides of eggplant halves with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and season with salt. Grill until charred and tender, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Brush both sides generously with reserved hoisin mixture; grill each side again just to glaze, about 1 minute per side. Serve hot.
Pretzel Sparklers recipe from marthastewart.com