This Memorial day, we had another one of our quick picnics by the Lake at the New York City’s Central Park. My daughter, just like her mom, loooves Central Park and we just enjoy dragging Daddy back into the city over the weekend for a summer day in the park. While he may think it is overrated, once we head out to west, I am sure he will miss Manhattan!
We settled down under a nice shady spot overlooking the lake, amongst a thousand other picnickers out there that day. As I took my sandals off and felt the cool soft grass below my feet and in between my toes, I suddenly realized that this was probably the last time we made such an impromptu trip to the park. The next time we want to do it, we’ll have to fly a few thousand miles . Nevertheless, a picnic at the Central Park, is the best summer thing to do in the city!
While most of the time, our last minute picnic plans involved brunch at one of many awesome restaurants that line Central Park, picking up lunch from a local delis or even getting a hot dog from the street carts, this time I made it extra special by bringing homemade sandwiches with refreshing lemonade. Of course, we did to stick to our traditions; which is Nia’s entire face ate an ice cream from the street vendor and the adults went for their indulgence to the Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle for their famous melt-in-the-mouth macarons!
As delicious as it sounds, a ginger-mint lemonade is indeed very, very yummy! Growing up in India, I like my nimbu-pani or the lemonade, as we say in English, to have well balanced combination of three primary flavors – sour, sweet and salty. This time I thought of adding a fun and unexpected twist to it by infusing it with some ginger and mint!
Go ahead, take a sip. It’s hard to resist a glass of my refreshing ginger-mint lemonade
Makes 4 tall glasses (about 1 cup each)
4 cups water
2 lemons, large and juice (My proportion is 2:1, since I make a sweeter lemonade. If you like yours to be on the tart side, add the juice from 1-2 more lemons to suit your taste)
¼-½ cup simple syrup (see Concoctions 101) (Add ¼ cup and then only as you need. You may not need all of the remaining ¼ cup)
1 tsp salt
1 inch ginger, peeled and muddled
¼ cup packed mint leaves, muddled
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Let it sit in the refrigerator for about 15-20 mins so that the ginger and the mint flavors infuse the lemonade.
Strain and transfer into a pitcher.
Add ice and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
To take for a picnic, pack it in a plastic container in the cooler.
* Spike it with Rum and turn it into a cocktail.
Peppered Salami & Pesto Mayo Sandwiches
In the last few years sandwiches have gone from being just portable foods to gourmet delights. But the fact remains that it still rocks for picnics! While you can use any type of bread for making your sandwich, I feel that a ciabatta really holds itself very well for over a couple of hours, even if you load it with all kinds of stuff and hence is a better option for picnics. I loaded mine with a generous amount of pesto mayo and layers of spicy black pepper salami, roasted red peppers along with mixed greens.
Take a bite into one of these and …
Makes 4 sandwiches
1:1 proportion of pesto and light mayonnaise
fresh ground black pepper
1 loaf of ciabatta
12 pre-sliced deli style peppered genoa salami (I got mine at Wholefoods)
4-6, roasted red peppers, jarred or homemade (1-2 per sandwich)
mixed greens (or your choice of lettuce)
Whisk the pesto and mayonnaise in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Cut the bread loaf horizontally in half. Spoon the spread on the bottom layer and lay the greens, peppers and salami slices over it. Spoon the spread on the top layer as well. Cover with the top half of the ciabatta and cut into individual servings.
To take for a picnic, wrap the sandwiches separately in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Pack them in a cooler, or keep at room temperature up to 2 hour.
* Substitute salami with sliced turkey, grilled chicken breast or for a veggie version use avocado or grilled vegetables like portabella mushrooms, eggplants, zucchinis or yellow squash.