Springtime Picnic Menu

By Krista Vieira

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. rotini pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you like)
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into ½ -inch thick slices
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut diagonally into ½ -inch thick slices
  • 1 each yellow and red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 medium red onion, cut crosswise into 4 slices
  • ¾ cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

Dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar also works)
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook the pasta according to the direction on the package. Prepare the dressing by whisking together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Spray the grill rack with non-stick spray (you can also use an indoor grill); prepare the grill. Spray (or lightly coat with olive oil) the tomatoes halves and eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Place the tomato halves, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and red onion on the grill rack and grill the vegetables in batches, until tender and even charred, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Once grilled, allow the vegetables to cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Mix grilled vegetables with your cooked pasta and then pour over the pasta. Toss to coat. Put pasta salad in the fridge until you’re ready to eat to let the flavours come together.

Sticky-Fingers Drumsticks
Makes 8 drumsticks

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken drumsticks, skinned
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

Directions:
Combine everything except the drumsticks in a medium bowl. Add the drumsticks and stir to coat. Grill or broil the drumsticks, brushing with marinade, for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. These drumsticks taste great at room temperature or cold. Just make sure to have plenty of napkins ready!

Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9×9-inch pan with butter, margarine, or non-stick spray. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in the greased cake pan until well combined. Make three small holes in the mixture. Add oil to one hole, vinegar to another hole, and vanilla to the third hole. Pour cold water over the entire mixture. Beat with a fork until all the ingredients are blended. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. This cake tastes fine as is, but if you want, you can ice the cake with a butter frosting.

Chocolate Butter Frosting
Makes 2 ¼ cups frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup softened margarine or butter (or dairy-free margarine)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup milk (or dairy-free milk)

Directions:
Whisk together the un-sifted confectioners’ sugar, un-sifted cocoa, and salt. Set aside. Cream the margarine and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add ½ cup of the sugar mixture simultaneously with 1 tablespoon of milk. Continue beating on medium speed until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and the frosting is smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula, and then add the sugar mixture ½ cup at a time, and simultaneously with 1 tablespoon of milk until all the ingredients are well incorporated. If your frosting is too thin, add a tablespoon or two more of icing sugar to thicken it; if it’s too thick, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time to thin it out.