Summertime is picnic time! Get three simple and delicious recipes to enjoy on a warm day with friends.

Written & Photographed By: Laura Miner

All of the dishes are jam-packed with flavor while still being a bit better for you than traditional picnic foods. So go ahead, indulge in these recipes at your next backyard cookout or picnic. Your taste buds will thank you!

BLT Salad (Photo Above)
Serves: 4
Imagine everything you love about the classic BLT sandwich, but with a refreshing, healthier twist! Every single element that makes a BLT so beloved is represented in this recipe, but this BLT is served in a veggie-packed salad form. Crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy croutons are paired together, then tossed in a creamy, rich, and herby dressing, made with a base of Greek yogurt! Every bite just gets better and better.

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2  cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs. Use any combination of parsley, dill, tarragon, and chives.
1/4 tsp salt & pepper

Salad Ingredients:
6 cups chopped lettuce
8 pieces bacon, cooked and cooled
1.5 cups croutons
1 cup diced tomatoes

Directions:
1. Prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. Store covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the salad.
2. Assemble the salad. Cut the bacon and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl. Toss with the salad dressing and serve right away.

Notes:
• If you’re making this in advance, keep the dressing, bacon, and croutons separate until just before serving to keep it crunchy!
• For a lower fat option, use turkey bacon.
• Make it a complete meal by adding your favorite protein to the salad, like grilled chicken or hard boiled eggs.

Southwest Turkey Burgers
Serves:
Inspired by bold southwest flavors, this turkey burger puts a healthier twist on a cookout classic. The burger is flavored with chipotle peppers and tons of herbs and spices for just the right amount of spicy kick. It’s all mellowed out with a cooling cilantro-lime avocado spread, your favorite toppings, and served on a toasty bun.

Burger Ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/2 tsp each cumin, salt
1/4 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, chipotle powder
3 tbsp canned chipotles, minced
Optional toppings: lettuce, sliced tomato, monterey jack cheese
4 burger buns

Smashed Avocado Spread:
2 avocados
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1/4 tsp salt

Chipotle Ketchup:
1/2  cup prepared ketchup, any kind
1/2  tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2  – 1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder

Directions:
1. To prepare the burger mixture, use your hands to mix together the ground turkey, cilantro, chipotles, and seasonings. Form into four patties. Place the burgers in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes to help them firm up and stay together when transferring to the grill. 
2. Make the avocado mash. Cut open and remove the pits from the avocados.
Scoop out the flesh and place it in a bowl. Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt.
Use a fork to roughly smash the avocado and mix it together. Mix the chipotle ketchup ingredients together.
3. Mix the ketchup with apple cider vinegar and chipotle powder, starting with less and tasting until it’s the level of spicy that you enjoy.
4. Preheat a clean, well-oiled grill to 400°F. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for about 13-16 minutes total, carefully flipping halfway through. When the middle of the burger reaches 165°F, remove the burgers and set them aside.
5. Assemble and serve. Toast the buns. Spoon a few tablespoons of the avocado spread onto the bun, then layer the burger along with any other toppings you enjoy. Serve right away. 

Mediterranean-Inspired Chicken Skewers with Orzo & Feta Salad
Serves: 4-6 (About 8 Skewers)
This recipe is a celebration of all things Mediterranean, and it’s absolutely perfect on a hot summer day! Tender pieces of marinated chicken and thinly sliced summer squash, zucchini, and onions are grilled to perfection and served up on skewers. Plate it alongside a crowd-pleasing orzo salad tossed with crunchy vegetables and delicious feta cheese.

Best of all, the marinade pulls double duty—half will be used to marinate the chicken and half will be used as a vibrant dressing for the orzo salad!

Chicken Skewers Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken breasts
2 medium zucchini
2 medium summer squash, medium size
1/2 red onion

Marinade/Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp each of dried thyme, dill, and onion powder
1/4 tsp salt & pepper

Orzo Salad Ingredients:
3 cups cooked & cooled orzo
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2  cup diced tomato
1 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
1. Make the marinade by whisking all the ingredients together.
2. Next, marinate the chicken. Cut the chicken in 1 inch cubes. Place them in a large bowl and pour half of the marinade on top, setting the other half of the marinade aside to use as a dressing later. Turn the chicken until all the pieces are coated.
Cover the bowl and set it aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the orzo salad. Toss the orzo with the diced bell peppers, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, and the reserved marinade/dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the salad covered and refrigerated until you’re ready to serve it.
4. Prepare the skewers. Cut the onion into ½ inch pieces. Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini and summer squash lengthwise to make long ribbons. Thread a piece of chicken, folded zucchini, squash, and onion onto the skewer. Repeat this process until the skewers are filled. 
5. Preheat a well-oiled grill to 400°F. Cook the skewers for 5-7 minutes per side, turning occasionally, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, per USDA.
6. Serve the skewers right away with the orzo salad.

Notes:
• Smaller zucchini and squash tend to work better in this recipe. Avoid large zucchini and squash since they are seedy.
• If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes before using them to keep them from burning.
• Don’t pack the skewers too tightly. Leave a little bit of space between each element to ensure even cooking.  

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