As a city known for its hard winters, Chicago really throws itself into summer fun. There are festivals, parades, art fairs, and many great events all throughout the city including a wonderful series of free concerts presented at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, one of the city’s architectural gems designed by Frank Gehry. Diverse programming includes classical music, rock, jazz, blues, pop, world music, Broadway show tunes, and more, delighting the locals and tourists alike all summer long.
We always have good intentions to attend several concerts each year but often find – around mid-August or so – that we failed to get our butts in gear soon enough and end up missing everything. So this year’s strategy is to pick a few dates, put out the word to friends, spread the picnic blanket, open the wine, and see who shows up to join us for an evening of music, food and fun.
The first one occurred a couple weeks ago featuring Ryley Walker and Blonde Redhead – both playing rock music but with very different styles. Please enjoy this playlist with a few of their tunes.
Some folks picnic with minimal fuss and bother – a sandwich, a bottle of water, pull up a patch of lawn and call it a day.
Not me. I pack a cooler full of food, beverages and supplies (corkscrew, garbage bags, bug spray, sunscreen, paper towels, first aid kit, etc.)
Why yes, I was a Girl Scout, why do you ask? What can I say, I like to be prepared.
The Verdict: One of my new favorite salads. Make it yours too!
Click the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Recipe source: Ina Garten via Food Network
- Good olive oil
- 1 small French bread or other crusty bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, large diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
- 1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
For the vinaigrette:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan.
- Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
- Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly.
- Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.