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Pack a Perfect Picnic

MISSION, KS -- (Marketwire) -- 05/24/12 -- (Family Features) Food always seems to taste better when enjoyed outdoors. No matter the occasion or location, these packable, snackable recipes are foods fit for a fabulous picnic.

Bean Salad Stuffed Shells are a simple, flavorful, portable appetizer. Jumbo shells filled with a can of 3 or 4 bean salad, herbs and cheese make great finger food.

Baby Beet and Farro Salad is an easy pack-and-go side. Whole pickled baby beets -- just right for one bite -- are the star of this whole grain salad, tossed with Dijon mustard dressing.

Picnic Sandwiches with Pickled Beet-Mango Slaw, piled high with deli meats, goat cheese and a tangy-sweet slaw can be made ahead. Wrapped tightly and refrigerated for several hours, the flavors meld deliciously.

Warm weather classic lemonade gets a ruby-red makeover. Simply add antioxidant rich beets to frozen lemonade concentrate, and Pink Lemonade is ready to enjoy.

A Tex-Mex inspired picnic of Southwestern Marinated Chicken with Bean Salad is a meal all its own. The grilled chicken -- marinated in liquid from a can of southwestern bean salad -- pairs perfectly with the bean salad for a fast fiesta that can be served warm or chilled -- just add tortillas and perhaps a margarita.

For additional recipes, visit www.AuntNellies.com and www.READsalads.com.

Picnic Sandwiches with Beet-Mango Slaw
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Makes 6 servings

1         jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Sliced Pickled Beets
1-1/2     cups cabbage slaw mix
3/4       cup cubed mango (about 1/4-inch cubes)
1/4       cup sliced green onion
2 to 3    tablespoons prepared vinaigrette
          Baguette or other loaf, plain or multigrain (about 21 inches x 3
          inches)
1         package (4 ounces) creamy goat cheese or other spreadable cheese
1/2       pound thinly sliced deli roast beef or turkey

1. Drain beets well; discard liquid or save for another use. Coarsely chop beets; reserve 1/2 cup for Pink Lemonade (see recipe to follow).

2. In large bowl, toss together slaw mix, mango and onion. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat well.

3. Cut baguette lengthwise in half. Remove insides leaving 1/2-inch shell on top and bottom. Spread bottom half with goat cheese.

4. Toss beets with slaw mixture; spoon half over goat cheese. Arrange beef over slaw; spoon remaining slaw over beef. Close sandwich and press firmly. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil; refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

5. To serve, cut baguette into 6 pieces.

Pink Lemonade
Makes about 2 quarts

Place 1/2 cup reserved chopped beets in food processor or blender container; process to puree. Add one 12-ounce can of lemonade concentrate (thawed); process to combine. Pour into pitcher. Add 4 cans water; stir. Serve over ice with lemon slice garnish.

Bean Salad Stuffed Shells
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Makes 6 servings

1         can (15 ounces) READ 3 or 4 Bean Salad
12        jumbo pasta shells
1/2       cup cubed (1/4-inch) cheese (see note)
1/4       cup chopped fresh basil, parsley, chives or a combination
          Coarsely ground black pepper
          Additional herbs

1. Drain bean salad; discard liquid.

2. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain; rinse in cold water and drain well.

3. Combine bean salad, cheese and herbs. Add black pepper, as desired.

4. Spoon bean mixture into shells. Sprinkle with additional herbs, as desired. Serve immediately or chill.

Note: Use smoked Gouda, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or other favorite cheese.

Baby Beet & Farro Salad
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Makes 6 servings

1         jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Baby Whole Pickled Beets
3         tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
1         tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1/3       cup olive oil
6         cups cooked farro (see note)
1/2       cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
1/4       cup finely chopped red onion
3         tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil,
          chives or a combination
1/2       cup crumbled feta (optional)
          Salt
          Pepper

1. Drain beets well; discard liquid.

2. For dressing, in small bowl, whisk together vinegar and mustard, then whisk in oil.

3. In large bowl, toss together farro, walnuts, onion, herbs, dressing and feta, if desired. Gently toss in beets just before serving. Add salt and pepper, as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Note: Pearled couscous, barley or favorite grain blend may be substituted for farro. Prepare according to package directions.

Southwestern Marinated Chicken with Bean Salad
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour up to 6 hours
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Makes 4 servings

1         can (15 ounces) READ Southwestern Bean Salad
2         tablespoons fresh lime juice
2         large cloves garlic, minced
2         teaspoons vegetable oil
1         teaspoon lime zest
1/2       teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2       teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4       teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
4         boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
          Bean Salad (see recipe below)
          Chopped fresh cilantro

1. Drain bean salad. Place bean salad in large bowl; place liquid in medium bowl. For marinade, stir together bean liquid, lime juice, garlic, oil, zest, salt, if desired, black pepper, and red pepper, if desired.

2. Place chicken in large food-safe plastic bag or place in single layer in glass dish. Add marinade; coat chicken well. Close bag or cover dish. Marinate, refrigerated, 1 hour up to 6 hours.

3. Remove chicken from marinade. Place on grill over medium coals or medium setting on gas grill. Grill about 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, or, broil in oven 5 to 6 inches from heat about 6 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with Bean Salad. May be served immediately after cooking or chilled. Sprinkle with cilantro just before serving.

Bean Salad
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings

          Reserved Southwestern Bean Salad
1         large tomato, coarsely chopped
1/2       cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In large bowl, combine bean salad, tomato and cilantro. Toss gently. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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