Perfect Arkansas Weekend + Crunchy Church Picnic Salad

Crunchy Church Picnic Salad

We had such a classic summer in Arkansas weekend.

I have been kind of dazed and sleepy for the last day or so, just soaking it all in.

My kids went to the lake last week for the blue moon. I love for them to camp on an island at the lake in the summertime, because it feels like they are getting a piece of my childhood. if I close my eyes, I can feel the sun waking me up in my sleeping bag on the boat. My sister and I would jump straight in the lake, first thing. We slept in our bathing suits, I know, Gross!, but my kids did it last week. In fact Cole wore his bathing suit for about 48 hours straight, mostly without shirt or shoes. Good ole Arkansas. When I talked to Mary Polly Thursday night as they were roasting marshmallows around the campfire, she told me that Cole was asleep in a camp chair.

Even though they were all dog tired from being at the lake, they all had sleepovers the next night. When Mary Polly went to bed on Saturday, she said she wished she could just do the whole weekend all over again.

Then on Sunday, we had our annual anniversary church picnic. I love these events. They are so southern to me.

Church picnic food is classic: fried chicken, cole slaw, homemade brownies.

Everyone was supposed to bring a food according to their last name, which I felt free to completely ignore. I also feel that all church picnic food should be homemade, which everyone else feels free to ignore.

Though “C” names had dessert, I brought a salad that was perfect for a church picnic. The funny (and slightly disturbing) thing about church picnic food is that it sits out for sort of a long time, and salads become soggy and wilted. Everything in this particular salad is crunchy, so it holds its flavor and beauty throughout an entire two hour buffet.

I am happy to report that it held up great. I can’t say the same for the grocery store tubs of cole slaw and potato salad.

I made everything the night before and then added the grape tomatoes just before we went, because I never refrigerate tomatoes. Depending on how long it was going to sit out, you could add some feta to this salad as well.

Just so the fun would never have to end, Taido and the kids went with friends to see the 9pm showing of the newest Pirates of the Caribbean after the picnic.

So what if everyone was a wee bit grouchy on Monday? It was a great Arkansas summer weekend.

Crunchy Church Picnic Salad

1 sliced red pepper

1 sliced orange pepper

1 sliced yellow pepper

2 peeled, thinly sliced cucumbers

1 thinly sliced red onion

2 thinly sliced yellow squash

2 thinly sliced zucchini

10 baby carrots, julienned

1 lb. green beans, dropped in boiling water for 2 minutes, then shocked with cold water

1 lb. sugar snap peas, blanched just like green beans

1 lb. grape tomatoes

1 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped


1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons raspberry red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped strawberries, mostly for color

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon coarse, kosher salt

Prep and add all the vegetables together in a large bowl.  Mix the dressing with an emulsifier or in a blender.  Toss the salad with the dressing just before serving.


*Photo from when I made this salad with P. Allen Smith, it was featured in his summer magazine along with two other Chino House Salads!