This summer in Dearborn is packed with free outdoor concerts around town. At least two of the concert series allow attendees to bring their own picnics along–quite a treat as this is not always the case with outdoor musical events.
First is the East Dearborn DDA’s Jazz on the Ave on Wednesday nights in City Hall Park and second is the West Dearborn DDA’s musical variety on Friday nights in Muirhead Plaza next to the Bryant Library.
Besides enjoying the music and great crowd watching, it is a perfect place to spread out a picnic with friends.
There are several ideas for approaching the picnic side of things–a to-go version or homemade joy version. Both styles are enhanced with a blanket, folding chairs, cooler and good friends.
If you indulge in the first one, try stopping by a local eatery for carry-out and nosh away knowing you are supporting a local business. If you are like the Edgy Veggies and enjoy creating some homemade edibles to share, then here are three crowd-pleasing suggestions to rock out your picnic.
Many of the ingredients that are in each of the recipes are summer fresh right now and available at the , or any host of the local produce markets in Dearborn. Use these recipes to inspire your imagination, add what moves you from your own garden or what looks good the day you go shopping.
Remember that picnics are a license to enjoy food in small containers while sitting on a blanket, so give your creative juices a try and remember to bring the utensils, napkins and plates.
My Big Fat Greek Dip (our twist on the old fashioned 7-layer dip, with the title "borrowed" from a favorite movie)
12 ounces hummus
3/4 red pepper diced
3/4 cucumber, diced (try and use seedless or remove the seeds)
1/2 cups chopped Kalamata Olives
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
*Ingredients notes: This is a very casual layered dip. If you want more olives … use them. If you want fewer tomatoes … do that.
Make It Happen
- Spread hummus on a serving tray or platter
- Layer ingredients evenly on top of the hummus
- Serve with pita chips and your fave crackers or crusty bread.
Chilled Gazpacho Soup (This is a classic we bring to summer parties and it is always gone first).
1 0.7 ounce packet of dry powdered Italian (or Zesty Italian) salad dressing mix
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
3 cups (or more as needed) of tomato juice
1/4 cup of fresh chopped cilantro (add more or less to taste)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (we like them in pretty small, 1/2 inch sized cubes or smaller)
1 large pepper (red, yellow or orange), cored, seeded and chopped
1 15 ounce can of black beans, drained
1 15 ounce can of pinto beans, drained
1/2 chopped avocado (optional)
Make it happen:
- Whisk dry salad dressing mix with vinegar in large bowl until fully blended.
- Toss in cilantro, cucumber and pepper and add tomato juice, stir again.
- Add the beans and stir just to mix everyone together.
- If needed, add more tomato juice to cover the ingredients. We sometimes put in a dash more red wine vinegar or cilantro as well, allow your taste buds to guide you.
- Cover and chill for at least two hours before serving. Garnish with chopped avocado. Gazpacho improves as it sits overnight.
Coconut Lemon Pie (a beautiful, easy pie that holds up great for cooler travel)
Shortbread Crust Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut flour (we used Edward & Sons)
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup melted margarine
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 14-ounce can coconut milk plus 1/2 can water
3/4 cup raw granulated sugar
Zest of three lemons
Juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 cups unsweetened flake coconut for garnish
Make It Happen
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Mix together the flour, powdered sugar, and melted margarine with a fork. Press this mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, using your fingers to push it out to the edges and up the sides. Poke the crust with a fork several times to prevent bubbles while baking.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is slightly browned on the edges. Let cool on a rack.
- For filling, put the cornstarch into a sauce pan and wisk out any lumps or large pieces. Add 1/2 the coconut milk and whisk until smooth, then add the remaining coconut milk, water, sugar, lemon zest, juice and extract.
- Bring the mixture to a boil slowly over medium-high heat, whisking frequently until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
- Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust and let cool for 5-10 minutes then refrigerate for several hours. The filling will set up almost like jell-o.
- For garnish, put unsweetened coconut flakes on a pan in a single layer. Spritz with lemon extract then bake in a 325 degrees oven until lightly browned. Check and mix coconut frequently so it browns nicely.