Summer is the time of year for picnics and barbecues. There’s truly nothing better than sitting around outside with a collection of friends, sharing food and drink while a lazy evening passes by.
When it comes to the menu, dependable classics are a good starting point. Consider this twist on the basic burger: Shredded cheddar cheese and sautéed onions are included in the meat of the patty, making for a hugely moist and flavorful bite (it also reduces the number of toppings you need to pack).
As for side dishes, this mayo-less potato salad is a winner. You can serve it warm or chilled, and because it isn’t slicked with a highly perishable dressing, it can sit on the picnic table for hours longer than the traditional version.
To wash it all down, whip up a batch of watermelon agua fresca. It’s a simple, barely-sweetened, freshly-made juice that is great over ice. Kids will slurp it down and adults will love it with a squirt of lime juice.
Cheddar and Onion Burgers
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
- 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 5-6 twists of a pepper grinder
- 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
- 4 slices tomato
- 4 lettuce leaves
- In a small skillet, sauté the red onions in olive oil until they are well-browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Place ground beef in a medium-sized bowl. Add the grated cheese, cooled onions, salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix all the ingredients to combine. When the burger mixture is well-integrated, form four patties.
- These burgers are best cooked on a grill surface (outdoor grill, grill pan or electric countertop grill). Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, until the outside is well-browned and there is only a hint of pink on the inside. Serve on a bun and garnish with tomato and lettuce. Eat immediately.
Oil and Vinegar Potato Salad
- 2 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 3 large celery ribs, finely minced
- 1 large or 2 small dill pickles, minced
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 5-6 twists of a pepper grinder
- Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into a large dice. When the water has reached a boil, add the potatoes and cook until fork tender (about 15 minutes, depending on the size of your dice).
- While potatoes cook, chop the rest of the ingredients. Heap them in the bottom of your serving bowl. Set aside.
- When the potatoes have finished cooking, drain and return them to the pot. Place the pot back on the stove, setting the burner to medium-low. Allow the potatoes to sit on the warm burner for a minute or two, stirring occasionally, to dry them out.
- When they seem fairly dry, add the apple cider vinegar and swirl the pot to coat the potatoes. Allow the vinegar to steam in and around the potatoes until the pot is dry. Pour half the olive oil into the pot and gently swirl around. Add salt and pepper.
- Remove pot from heat and pour the contents into the bowl containing the rest of the ingredients. Add remaining olive oil, as well as lemon zest and juice. Using a wooden spoon, gently turn to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
- Serve warm or chilled.
Watermelon Agua Fresca
- 3 cups chopped watermelon
- 3 cups water
- 3 tbsp. cane sugar
- wedges of lime for serving
- Combine the watermelon, water and sugar in a blender or food processor and blitz until pureed.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher and pour the mixture in. Using the back of a spoon, work the juice through until all that’s left is the spent pulp.
- Serve over ice and garnish with limes.