Brought to you by our in-house chef - Chef Kai Salimaki
If any of you have looked at the weather forecast for Canada Day, you better run and grab that SPF 1000! It’s here, summertime and the lifting of all Covid restrictions. We will be returning to a semblance of normality and we thought what better way to spend an amazing day than with friends and family in the park. Calgary has many noteworthy parks and we want to make it easy for you to do a quick shop and pack that picnic basket with no stress.
Now let’s talk about what to bring for food. I like the quick easy picnic foods that don’t take a lot of preparation and can be placed out for everyone to graze on. This usually includes charcuterie items, bread, salads and so on.
If you are using a BBQ, I would highly recommend the following local products for ease and they just happen to taste great as well.
Cultivatr Pasta Salad
Serves 2-4pplA nice crisp salad helps cool everyone off and since we are in prime season for all the new veggies, might as well use them!Ingredients:
- 1 bag x Fresh Rotini Pasta (Soffritto)
- 1 x 0.5lb Medley Tomatoes (Various Alberta Producers)
- 1 x Large Cucumber (Various Alberta Producers)
- 1 x Heirloom Basil (Rafferty Farms)
- 1pc Trata Goat Cheese (Dancing Goat Farms)
- 1pc Orange Bell Pepper (Various Alberta Producers)
- 1pc Green Bell Pepper (Mans Organic)
- ¼ pc Red Onion
- Handful of Black Olives (Nefiss Lezizz)
- Extra Virgin Oil (Nefiss Lezizz)
- Red Wine Vinegar (Alchemist Vinegars)
- Lemon Juice
- Spices - Salt, Pepper, Dried Oregano (Township 27)
You can make this salad in advance and let it sit overnight in the fridge to help develop the flavors but this can definitely be made on the fly right before heading out.
- Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package. I usually cook my pasta al dente but for a pasta salad, I prefer to cook it all the way through (don’t overcook though!) but this is a personal preference. Allow the pasta to drain and cool completely.
- In a large bowl add your vegetables. Quarter or halve the tomatoes, dice the cucumbers and bell peppers. Pit and slice your olives if you choose to use them. Slice the onion (Julienne style) into thin ribbons as well.
- Toss your pasta in the bowl once it’s cool.
- You can either crumble the Trata cheese or cube it up and throw in the salad. This cheese is very similar to a Greek Feta cheese, slightly sharp, salty and delicious.
- Tear the basil into the salad or with a sharp knife, chiffonade the basil (roll the leaves in a tight cylinder and slice horizontally to get super fine ribbons).
- Season the salad with salt and pepper and add about a teaspoon of dried oregano. Toss this all together and let sit for 5 minutes.The vegetables will start releasing some of their water/nectar once the salt hits them. This will help season all the vegetables and provide a nice base for the rest of the dressing.
- Use about a quarter cup of the Extra Virgin olive oil, splash of red wine vinegar and the juice from a half a lemon to start and drizzle all over the salad, toss it well and taste.
This is a play on a “Greek” pasta salad and is open to tinkering. Don’t have red wine vinegar? Use balsamic, don’t like olives, don’t use them! If you aren’t a fan of goat cheese, try another one of the local cheeses we carry like the Gouda from Vital Greens. Wrap the bowl tight and chill for at least an hour.
Picnics always remind me of Europe and I think that is largely due to the fact that what you typically eat on picnics lends itself to the eating habits of Europeans. Fresh bread, deli meats, sliced and pickled vegetables, wonderful cheeses and spreads.
Quick easy open faced sandwiches can be assembled on site with pre-cut charcuterie meats but you can also make these ahead of time and make them closed sandwiches. Wrap in wax or butcher paper, tie them off with some twine and you are now an artisan picnic-er!
Try any of these flavor combos out.
- Seeded Sourdough (Sidewalk Citizen) | Bebe Lune Brie (The Old School Cheesery) | Strawberry Cardamom Jam (Worthy Jams)
- Original Sourdough (Sidewalk Citizen) | Garlic Mayo (Arepa Boss) | Beefsteak Tomato (Various Alberta Producers) | Prosciutto (Valbella Gourmet Foods)
- Seeded Sourdough | Truffle Salami (VDG Salumi) | Roma Tomato (Various Alberta Producers) | Cucumber (Various Alberta Producers) | Garlic Mayo
- Ciabatta Roll (Good Bread YYC) | Smoked Bison (Valbella Gourmet Foods) | Roasted Garlic Mustard (Meta4 Foods) | Garlic Mayo | Roma Tomato | Baby Arugula (Deepwater Farms)
- Seeded Sourdough | Pepper Pate (Valbella Gourmet Foods)
Extras Everyone Will Enjoy
With online shopping you sometimes miss out on the impulse buys, so I’m throwing in some last minute additions you can throw in the basket and enjoy on the fly.
- Pepperoni Sticks (Valbella Gourmet Foods)
- Pico De Gallo (Maxi Foods)
- Guacamole (Maxi Foods)
- Tortilla Chips (Various Flavors | Maxi Foods)
- Sweet Chili Corn Salsa (Bow Valley BBQ)
Don't Forget the Essentials
After all that hard work prepping your food it's time to go on the picnic. You made it all the way out to your destination, found parking, walked everything in, set up and now you want to celebrate with a nice glass of wine or pop the top off that ice cold beer. BUT No corkscrew/bottle opener!! Here's a quick checklist for a stress free day to be enjoyed with others. (Don’t forget the ice packs in the freezer!)
- A large blanket to lay down and set up on
- Bug Spray
- More water
- Wet wipes/napkins
- Small garbage bag/compost bag for easy cleanup (Respect our parks!)
- Small cutting board and a knife (serrated for bread, small paring knife for the rest)
- Plates,serving platters, cups and cutlery
- BBQ Lighter if you are planning on using the bbqs available
Hopefully you found this post full of suggestions and ideas. The goal is always to inspire and showcase our curated selection of artisan local products. Our suppliers/farmers are amazing and thanks to all of our loyal customers, you are helping support our environment, farms and families. Have an amazing Canada Day!!