Summer has come to Belgium. FI-NA-LY. After weeks of horrible rainy weather we enjoyed the first sun last weekend. Not only the summer came to Belgium last weekend. I was also pleased with the visit of an Austrian friend. Mr. AB visited his brother-in-law in Brussels and thanks to the small distances between Belgian cities, he could visit Ghent. The weather was perfect for a city walk. After that walk we decided not to go to some – probably too crowded – restaurant, but to have a picnic. It was what we called “perfect picnic weather”. So we went to the park, called Citadelpark. This park is famous for a lot of things, from a museum with contemporary  art to a mythical indoor velodrome and the nocturnal transformation of a quiet park into a park loved by male fortune-hunters.

For the next 4 months it’s also known for the graveyard. There is a temporary city art festival in Ghent from may till september, called Track. One of the outdoor art works is a graveyard with graves with the name of museums. The artist, Leo Copers is a Belgian artist that wants to destroy all cultural symbols and embrace danger and tension.

The ‘Museum Graveyard’ project, which is on display in Citadel Park for TRACK, forms part of this museum research. The monumental work, with granite tombstones for different museums, criticizes both the ‘museumalisation’ of famous graveyards – e.g. the touristic attraction Père Lachaise in Paris – as well as the contemporary popularisation of museums. According to Copers, the previous decades the museum has evolved from a silent mausoleum towards a leisure park of mass participation and so-called ‘art tourism’. (more: info)

Close to my apartment, it was the perfect spot for a picnic. It was a great evening with the friends of Austria and Germany. They beat me twice in playing Kubb. Fortunately, I scored with my food and dishes. I made a pasta salad with truffle oil and mozzarella, pesto with Goat cheese and hazelnut and a yoghurt garlic dip for tortilla chips.

Goat cheese and hazelnut pesto

I can’t give you the perfect quantities, because I made it “add, taste, try and add more if necessary”. So the quantities are just an approximation. Feel free to try and share your opinion.

What do you need? 50 gr Goat cheese, 10 gr pine nuts, 40 gr hazelnuts, handful fresh basil, 10 sun dried tomatoes, 3dl olive oil, half a tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp paprika, pepper, salt, a clove of garlic

What do you do? Just like all the other pesto I made, it’s really easy to make. Start with roasting the nuts. Add the nuts, olive oil, basil, tomatoes, a bit of the oil of the tomatoes, garlic and spices and blend it. Add the cheese and mix again. Taste it. If you want to make it more liquid, add oil. If not, add cheese and nuts. If not spicy enough, add pepper or cayenne pepper. Feel free to experiment with this “easy peasy recipeasy”.

Pasta salad with truffle oil, mozzarella, basil and sun dried tomatoes

This dish is a quick and easy pasta salad. I know I just shared another pasta recipe. Sorry for that. I just really like pasta and this dish is even easier than the older one. If you ask me, this is a perfect picnic dish. Make it, take your picnic basket, go to the nearest park and enjoy it. I also made it for the homecooking and for the Foodrevolution picnic two weeks ago. So I hope you share my enthusiasm.

What do you need? (for 6 serves) 500 gr pasta, 120 gr sun dried tomatoes, 100 gr rocket salad, 60 gr pine nuts, 300-400 gr real buffalo mozzarella, freshly grounded black pepper, salt, 30 gr fresh basil, truffle oil, olive oil, 100 gr prosciutto

Bring salted water to the boil. Add the pasta. In the meanwhile roast the pine nuts. Cut the prosciutto into smaller slices. Chop the real buffalo mozzarella. Why do you need real buffalo mozzarella? I know that this kind of mozzarella is twice as expensive. It’s also twice as good as the cheap one. You don’t use a lot of ingredients, so it’s important you use good ones. Otherwise you will just have an ordinary pasta salad. We all want an extraordinary salad, isn’t?
When the pasta is cooked, give it a short but cold shower. Add all the ingredients: pine nuts, basil, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, rocket salad and prosciutto. Mix it. Add truffle oil and olive oil. Just start with for example 3 tablespoons truffle oil and 5 tablespoons olive oil. Taste it and if not enough oil, add more. Finish with salt (or better sea salt) and some freshly ground black pepper. Don’t be afraid to add pepper. You just don’t use a lot of spices. Just taste before you serve it and be sure that you add enough pepper, salt or truffle oil. When ready, take your picnic blanket and run to the park. Enjoy!