Monday, January 19, 2009

picnic in the park

Rachel and I are both really busy. We each have demanding work schedules, crowded social calendars, and a few respective hobbies as well. So you can understand that when we hang out, it needs to be well-planned and executed. And usually there needs to be wine.

Since we both had today off, we decided to capitalize on both the gorgeous sunshine today in San Francisco and the fact that I live 2 blocks from Dolores Park, possibly the sunniest, most happening daytime spot in SF. It was decided that she would bring wine, cheese and bread and I would put together a picnic lunch to go along with it.

We lunched on spicy rice noodle salad, flatbread sandwiches, carrots with hummus, bread with Cambozola and a pungent sheep's milk semi-soft cheese and of course, a gorgeous zinfandel. We got in a good three-and-a-half hours of serious gossip, laughing, and catching up. Plus, the people-watching in Dolores Park is unbeatable (hello gold sequin Speedos!), and there's something inherently decadent about drinking wine in the middle of the day.

Picnicking is an inexpensive, fun way to spend an afternoon. Here's what I made:

Spicy Rice Noodle Salad
6 oz. thin Vietnamese rice noodles, cooked and rinsed until cold
1/2 bell pepper, sliced thin
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small bunch mint, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil

Whisk hoisin, sriracha, rice vinegar and sesame oil together. Toss with all other ingredients until well incorporated. Store in an airtight container and serve with chopsticks.

Flatbread Sandwiches
1/2 recipe pizza dough (Keep the other half in a plastic ziplock bag in your fridge. I promise you'll find a use for it by the end of the week)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped pears and/or apples
2 sliced, cooked sausages (I used vegan apple-sage sausages)
2 cups arugula or baby spinach
spicy mustard

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Divide the dough into 6 equal-sized balls. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll them out into 6" circles. Gently transfer the circles, one at a time, to the frying pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until bubbly and brown, somewhat resembling Indian naan. Add a little more oil between dough circles if needed. Drain on paper towels and wrap in foil until ready to use.

Arrange the pears/apples, sausages, greens and mustard in little containers. On your picnic, spread a little mustard on a piece of flatbread and top with the fruit, greens, and sausage. Roll up like a burrito or in half like a quesadilla or pita and enjoy.

Love,
Gabi

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