This is going to be the smash hit of the summer 2012 picnic/potluck season

I won’t say there’s an upside to the hellish hot heat that recently made its presence felt here in Toronto, but there is some recompense: summer is also picnic and potluck season. ‘Tis the season for bocci ball, barbeques, and eating too much; for laying about on blankets, again eating too much, and shooting the breeze with friends; for playing Frisbee, or bicycle-riding, or swimming, or whatever you like best, all followed by eating too much.

We all think of winter as the time during which we become completely unable to resist the heavy comfort foods, when we become cake addicts…but I submit to you that we all actually eat more, much more, during the summer; the difference is, we sweat most of it out in the hellish hot heat instead of turning it into insulation. For gawd’s sake, we all live in a 24/7 sauna of doom for at least three consecutive months–how could we not sweat out all the summer barbeques we attend? How can we not console ourselves with barbeques and ice cream?

Last weekend, some friends threw a long weekend bbq bonanza. There was bocci. There were pretty dresses. Sunburns. Complicated scoring systems, both for the games and the sunburns. Fierce competition, both amongst the competitors, and between the humans and the buglets interested in devouring the spread laid out to fuel us through our sweating, burning, bocci-ing, and toe-breaking. (I broke a toe, but this was unrelated to the bocci; I’m just dangerously clumsy and require almost no external help in order to hurt myself.)

I brought my favourite summer potluck/picnic dish, which turned out to be many others’ favourite too, some of whom reminded me that I bring this dish to every summer event. Clearly, a new standard is in order, to be served until it becomes too standard, if you know what I mean. But you likely weren’t there, so I’ll share the recipe with you, so that you too can blow summer party-goers’ bellies’ minds:

Delightful Rice Salad with Olives & Sun-Dried Tomatoes (modified slightly from The Garden of Vegan, Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 6 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, re-hydrated (not the oil-packed kind)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups cooked rice, cooled (1 1/3 cups uncooked brown basmati yields the perfect amount)
  • 1 cup olives, chopped (I like a mix of black and green)
  • 4 stalks green onion, chopped

Instructions

In a food processor, blend the vinegars, oil, water, parsley, tomatoes, salt and pepper to make the dressing. In a large bowl, combine the cooled rice, olives, green onions, and dressing. Eat, eat!

This is good stuff. But it’s not going to be the smash hit of my summer 2012 eating season; it doesn’t surprise anyone anymore.

No, what I predict is going to blow the top off everyone’s notion of what constitutes a show-stopping number in the dip department–and every good summer event needs dips–is this tasty blend of awesomeness that I made tonight just to try, in advance of the next picnic/potluck I attend. It was a dress rehearsal, but it blew the top off the theatre, by which I mean my husband and I ate so much of it we ruined our dinner and are currently waiting for our stomachs to make space so we can pack in some more. Here it is. You’re welcome.

Chunky Black Bean Lime Dip (modified ever so slightly from ExtraVeganZa, Laura Matthias. Don’t hold the ridiculous title against her–Matthias’s cookbook is one of the best!)

Ingredients

  • 1 19 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, roasted (do it yourself–fun and easy!)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Juice of two limes (don’t use that bottled shite)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (I use Braggs)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, skinned, pitted, and chopped small–ripe but not too ripe
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives

Instructions

Place beans, pepper, tahini, tamari, lime juice, and cilantro in food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to pretty bowl. Stir in avocado and olives. Serve with fresh bread (DEAR GOD, SO GOOD) or tortilla chips.

Don’t be deceived by the simple ingredients. My friends (who are seasoned (har, har, groan) potluckers/picnickers/eaters) don’t know that they’re all about to be punched in the neck with some extreme deliciousness. But I know. And if you make this dip, you’ll know. And soon, no one will be bringing hummus to summer eat-fests ever again. Poor, poor hummus.

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