National Fruits & Veggies Month is here!
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Veggie picnic

With restaurants at limited capacity and social gatherings still confined to small groups, I predict picnics will be trending this summer. Picnics or al fresco dining at home can be a great way to get together with friends while social distancing.

I’m sure you’ve been asked to “bring a dish” to a barbeque or backyard part. Pasta salad is often in the line-up because it’s economical, is fairly easy to prepare and it travels well. How about boosting your pasta salad with some extra veggies? And I mean, extra. Think about how you can add extra fruits and veggies to just about all of your classic picnic recipes.

Grilling hot dogs and hamburgers? Add a spread of fresh veggie toppings: sliced tomatoes, baby spinach leaves, sautéed onions, finely chopped bell peppers.

You can also grill fruit! Place fresh, frozen or canned peaches cut side down onto grill. Grill over medium heat until warm and slightly charred. You can also grill fresh, frozen or canned pineapple slices.

Add extra veggies to your grain dishes – add frozen green beans, canned peas, fresh peppers, or chopped broccoli and cauliflower, to rice pilafs or pasta salads.

Add frozen peas to chicken or tuna salad.

Make salad on a stick! Cut romaine or iceberg lettuce into 1-inch chunks. Slice cucumbers into ½-inch chunks. Cut bell peppers into 1-inch square pieces. Skewer them onto a long wooden skewer, alternating with grape tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Serve with a side of your favorite dressings.

Grill veggies along with your meats. Slice eggplant or zucchini into ¼-inch slices or cut bell peppers into quarters and seed. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat until tender. Be sure to turn to grill evenly.

Make a mixed veggie salad by tossing grilled vegetables along with steamed cut green beans. Add your favorite salad dressing and 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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