I love the sun, but when Chicago gets super hot, sweating all day doesn’t sound all that appealing. Obviously, we’re cooped up for all of winter, so I’m also not about to sit in AC all summer just because of a little heat… so, what’s my favorite solution? A picnic in the shade! Swooooon.
There is a park right behind the Chicago History Museum that I’ve grown to love during my time in this city. There’s always people (and dogs!) walking through, but it’s rarely over crowded. There are big trees that provide a ton of shade, and it generally feels like the more relaxed version of the lakefront. All in all, it’s pretty much perfect for a picnic.
On my most recent picnic, I rolled out a blanket and cut up watermelon, washed some cherries, and made a batch of pesto (recipe below). And because it’s the sweet summertime, a cocktail is also necessary right?!
Enter: White Claw Hard Seltzer.
Yes, you heard me. It’s a refreshing seltzer, but with alcohol in it. In a cute little can. AKA what summer dreams are made of.
At only 110 calories, you can wipe guilt right out of the equation. White Claw is only sparkling water, a hint of natural juice, a touch of pure cane sugar and a spike of alcohol. No artificial ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup and no crystalline fructose. It also comes in yummy flavors like Lime, Black Cherry and Ruby Grapefruit. Hint: Lime is the best one ?
The main dish at this little picnic was my favorite Pesto Pasta Salad. I love that not only can you make the pesto ahead of time, but you can also mix the pasta and tomatoes ahead of time, too! I love this dish warm, but it’s just as good cold or room temperature, too. So easy and so delicious.
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1.5 cups basil
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 large close garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (walnuts also work for this!)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup romano cheese
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb pasta (I found short and curly bucatini this time - so good!)
- 1 container grape tomatoes
- First make the pesto. Combine basil, parsley, olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan and romano in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if the mixture is too thick. I also like to taste it to see if it needs anything else, like a little lemon juice or more cheese! Store in the refrigerator.
- Cut tomatoes in half and add to a big mixing bowl.
- Cook your pasta al dente, according to instructions on the box. Add to the mixing bowl.
- Stir pesto into the pasta! If you're only cooking for a few people, you can only cook half a pound of pasta and then use half of your pesto. Store the rest in the fridge, or freeze it if you know you won't use it again for a while.
- Sprinkle the pasta with a little more cheese and store in the fridge until you're ready to go on your picnic!
Seriously, this made for the loveliest Saturday afternoon – there was even a wedding on the patio behind the Chicago History Museum that had an awesome set of strings playing pop songs for the guests during cocktail hour. I don’t know who got married that day, but they have excellent taste!
Long live summer.
*This post was sponsored by White Claw, but, as always, all opinions are my own!