PACK a Perfect Picnic

Food always seems to taste better when enjoyed outdoors. No matter the occasion or location, these packable, snackable recipes are foods fit for a fabulous picnic.

Bean Salad Stuffed Shells are a simple, flavorful, portable appetizer. Jumbo shells filled with a can of 3 or 4 bean salad, herbs and cheese make great finger food.

Baby Beet and Farro Salad is an easy pack-and-go side. Whole pickled baby beets – just right for one bite – are the star of this whole grain salad, tossed with Dijon mustard dressing.

Picnic sandwiches with Pickled Beet-Mango Slaw, piled high with deli meats, goat cheese and a tangy-sweet slaw can be made ahead. Wrapped tightly and refrigerated for several hours, the flavors meld deliciously.

Warm weather classic lemonade gets a ruby-red makeover. Simply add antioxidant rich beets to frozen lemonade concentrate, and Pink Lemonade is ready to enjoy.

A Tex-Mex inspired picnic of Southwestern Marinated Chicken with Bean Salad is a meal all its own. The grilled chicken – marinated in liquid from a can of southwestern bean salad – pairs perfectly with the bean salad for a fast fiesta that can be served warm or chilled – just add tortillas and perhaps a margarita.

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Picnic Sandwiches with Beet-Mango Slaw

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Makes 6 servings

1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Sliced Pickled Beets

1-1/2 cups cabbage slaw mix

3/4 cup cubed mango (about 1/4-inch cubes)

1/4 cup sliced green onion

2 to 3 tablespoons prepared vinaigrette

Baguette or other loaf, plain or multigrain

(about 21 inches x 3 inches)

1 package (4 ounces) creamy goat cheese or other spreadable cheese

1/2 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef or turkey

1. Drain beets well; discard liquid or save for another use. Coarsely chop beets; reserve 1/2 cup for Pink Lemonade (see recipe to follow).

2. In large bowl, toss together slaw mix, mango and onion. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat well.

3. Cut baguette lengthwise in half. Remove insides leaving 1/2-inch shell on top and bottom. Spread bottom half with goat cheese.

4. Toss beets with slaw mixture; spoon half over goat cheese. Arrange beef over slaw; spoon remaining slaw over beef. Close sandwich and press firmly. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil; refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

5. To serve, cut baguette into 6 pieces.

Pink Lemonade

Makes about 2 quarts

Place 1/2 cup reserved chopped beets in food processor or blender container; process to puree. Add one 12-ounce can of lemonade concentrate (thawed); process to combine. Pour into pitcher. Add 4 cans water; stir. Serve over ice with lemon slice garnish.

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