After staying indoors for months during quarantine, being out in nature is good for our well being. As the summer weather becomes increasingly hot here in Los Angeles, getting some fresh air by the ocean or in a park seemed a good idea. A picnic is a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
I packed a bunch of picnic foods like sandwiches, fruit, and my no-fuss vegan tortellini pesto salad. I also had a few different kinds of vegan cheeses to make a vegan cheeseboard. This was easy to assemble once I found a picnic spot.
My local Gelson’s supermarket has so many plant-based options, such as Ithaca Kalamata olive hummus, Violife cheeses, and Kite Hill tortellini, in addition to the incredible variety of fresh fruits and veggies. Maybe summer isn’t summer unless you have a picnic. We all know how getting out of the house feels lately, so a picnic sounds like a grand adventure.
I was pleased to find such a great selection of plant-based food items at Gelson’s, especially all of the ingredients for an entirely plant-based tortellini pesto salad. Kite Hill makes their plant-based tortellini with almond milk ricotta. Many amazing things are happening in the plant-based food world these days, I mean, could you have ever imagined that there would be vegan tortellini? My Italian great-grandma would be amazed.
Gelson’s has so many of my plant-based favorites on their shelves and refrigerated cases. I’m a big fan of making my own homemade almond milk and nut milk, but when I run out of almonds and need to grab something I know is made without any additives, I love Elmhurst Dairy. They are one of the best plant-based nut milk brands available. Did you know that Elmhurst used to be a traditional dairy? After 90 years of operating as a regular dairy, they closed the barn doors to re-open as a plant-based milk company.
I’m also crazy about Bitchin’ Sauce! As a hummus lover and vegan, I can vouch that this almond-based dip is mind-blowing and taste bud enticing. They have many flavors to choose from, such as their Original, Cilantro Chili, Heat, Chipotle, Pesto, Buffalo, Green Onion, Green Chile, Spinach Artichoke, and Bombay. If you pick up some of the Pesto Bitchin’ Sauce, try it tossed into your tortellini salad.
I found an array of vegan items and organic produce to make my picnic feast. Of course, grapes, peaches, strawberries, and watermelon are all perfect for picnicking. You’ll need kalamata olives, hummus, and a freshly baked baguette to get into the picnic mood. I also found some Italian Tofurky slices for sandwich making. Because I am part Sicilian, an homage to an idyllic Italian picnic al fresco must have a few well stacked sandwiches on ciabatta!
As I prepped the tortellini salad and made a few sandwiches, I added the little Boska cheeseboard and cheese knife set into my basket. Look for this fantastic find in the Gelson’s gourmet section near the wines. And yes, I lingered in the rosé aisle for quite some time to choose a bottle.
I gathered several types of vegan cheeses from Gelson’s and discovered one of my favorite plant-based cheese brands: Violife. I picked up their plant-based feta, smoked provolone, and a wedge of parmesan for the cheeseboard.
May I thoughtfully add, you can use your EBT card for fresh ingredients from Gelson’s. I know many of us are financially affected by the current coronavirus pandemic, which is all the more reason to indulge in a healthy plant-based picnic.
A picnic is actually good for your health! Being in nature, surrounded by trees, enjoying the fresh air, you can pamper yourself (and your family) with a basket of whole foods and freshly made things to eat.
After preparing my little feast for my picnic basket, I drove to a favorite park to get relief from the intense heat, spread out my blanket, and enjoyed the beautiful day.
Vegan Tortellini Pesto Salad
You’ll find all of these ingredients at Gelson’s to make one delicious pasta salad. Kite Hill almond milk ricotta tortellini, basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, and radicchio go into this flavorful dish. Make a big bowl of this salad and keep it in your fridge for your picnic outing.
This vegan tortellini is best tossed together and chilled, made with juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh leaves of basil, and homemade vegan pesto (or store-bought, Gelson’s carries vegan pesto). To make it more Italian, I added in some chopped radicchio.
2 (9-ounce) packages Kite Hill tortellini
1/2 cup basil pesto or Bitchin’ Sauce Pesto
2 pints cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups), halved
1/2 radicchio, chopped fine
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and dash under cold water to cool tortellini down. Drain well.
Put the cooked tortellini and pesto of choice in a large bowl and carefully fold with a large spoon to combine. Add the cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and radicchio, then gently toss.
Store the tortellini salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.