Yesterday was Earth Day. In our house, Earth Day signals it’s time to plant our annual garden. Today we’ll be busy planting our garden most of the day. That’s just perfect since today is also Picnic Day. What’s better after a day of toiling in the garden than to have a picnic in our own backyard?
Did you know that a picnic ham isn’t even a true ham? A picnic ham is cut from the upper part of the pig’s foreleg. A true ham is cut from the hind leg. Too much information? Maybe.
In Italy, families gather to picnic on Pasquetta, the day following Easter Sunday. It is Angel Monday, recalling the day when the women arrived at the tomb of Jesus and were met by angels announcing the resurrection of Christ. The feast does not have purely religious character. Pasquetta is considered a civil holiday, introduced in the postwar period to lengthen the period of rest linked to Holy Easter. All of Italy savors a picnic. How awesome is that?
Now in France, they know how to have a picnic. In 2000, France celebrated the first Bastille Day of the New Millennium with a 600-mile-long picnic. Wow! Leave it to the French to make a big deal out of a picnic. Picnics in the park are a French invention. After the French revolution of 1789, France opened their royal parks to the public and gave birth to picnics as we know them today.
While I realize that in the past I’ve shared some amazing Chicken Recipes for Earth Day and Picnic Day, today we’re keeping things simple. To be honest, I’m getting too darn old to spend the day toiling in the garden and manage to put an amazing Picnic together. That said, an awesome sandwich and macaroni salad is the perfect way to end a productive day.
Mile-High Picnic Sub Sandwiches
2 large Tomatoes
1/2 head Green Leaf Lettuce
1/2 Red Onion
6 (6-inch) Hoagie Rolls
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
12 slices Provolone Cheese
12 slices Deli Ham
12 slices Soft Salami
12 slices Deli Turkey
12 slices Deli Roast Beef
Slice tomatoes for sandwiches, wrap sliced tomatoes in plastic wrap. Set aside. Break off lettuce leaves from the head of lettuce. Stack leaves, roll tightly and slice into ribbons. Place in a sandwich bag until ready to use. Cut onion in half through the thickest part. Reserve half the onion for another purpose (like Macaroni Salad). Peel remaining half, slice into rings. Break rings apart, place in a sandwich bag until ready to use.
Split rolls. Sprinkle cut side liberally with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle vinegar and season with Italian seasoning.
Place sliced tomatoes and onions on bottom of roll. Layer cheese and meats on top of onions. Top sandwich with shredded lettuce.
Note: If packing the sandwiches for later, pack the sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and onions into separate bags. Wrap sandwiches in plastic wrap, then place into bags. Finish assembling sandwiches when ready to serve. This will keep the vegetables fresh and crisp and the sandwich won’t get soggy.
Macaroni Picnic Salad
1 lb Salad Macaroni
4 Green Onions
1/4 Red Onion
2 Celery Ribs
1 tablespoon Dill Pickle Relish (more to taste)
1-1/4 cups Mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Additional Green Onions for garnish (Optional)
Place eggs in a pot, cover with cold water. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, cover with a tight fitting lid. Let eggs steep in hot water for 15 minutes. While the eggs steep, prepare an bath of ice and water. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon, crack on the counter, then plunge in the bath water for 20 minutes to cool. Peel the hard-boiled eggs and set in refrigerator to cool completely.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain and rinse well under cold running water. Set aside to continue draining.
Trim roots from the green onions. Clean onions, finely chop and set aside. Finely chop a quarter of a red onion, set aside. Trim, clean and finely chop celery, set aside.
In bowl, combine onions, celery, pickle relish, mayonnaise and red wine vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste dressing and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning according to personal tastes.
Chop 4 eggs. Add to dressing. Cut V marks in remaining 2 eggs to create tulip flowers. Reserve 3 of the flowers, chop remaining flower and add to dressing. Taste dressing a second time, adjust seasonings as necessary.
Place macaroni in a large mixing bowl. Pour egg dressing over macaroni. Stir to blend and coat everything together. Transfer salad to a large serving bowl. Smooth top.
Using the back of a spoon, create 3 indentations in the top of the salad. Place Egg flowers into indentations. If desired, sprinkle lightly with paprika and garnish with green onion “blossoms”.