Columbus Day, Native Americans’ Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or Discover Day – whatever name you consider proper to call this day – is coming to remind us about the deed of Christopher Columbus and his crew, which changed the course of history.

On October 12, 1492, the Italian-Spanish navigator and 90 sailors landed on a Bahamian island after a four-month journey. And if someone had told him then how much his discovery would be influencing lives of hundreds of millions of people for many centuries ahead, he would have only laughed at that weirdo and told him to go take some rest in the cabin.

Columbus was an avid adventurer. Despite the fact that he mistook Caribbean coasts for India, he was a knowledgeable explorer. However, he was rumored to be a cruel colonist. And that is what his descendants are unlikely to ever forgive him. Still, Christopher Columbus became the very first European who officially introduced the New World to the Old World. Although he himself believed that he found a new western route to Asia.

No doubt, in the late 15th and early 16th century the significance of Columbus’ voyage was difficult to overestimate. At that time his discovery was as stunning as the discovery of a parallel universe would be nowadays.

The New World was indeed such new universe. It was inhabited by people who were very different from Europeans. Those people spoke strange languages, ate strange foods, and observed strange customs. Their histories and cultures were developing in parallel with yet isolated from those of Europeans. And this fact highlights the diversity of our world that we must cherish.

The second Monday of October is going to be the right time to remember this simple truth once again. Just choose the best place to do it: a local park, your family’s favorite spot in the countryside, or your cozy backyard.

And one more thing we should be ready with on October 8 is a picnic menu.

Whether on this day you will toast Columbus’ expedition, prosperity and well-being of Indigenous Americans, or a warm fall day-off that you can spend with your dearest, let’s see how to make your dinner delectable and memorable.

Check a few original cookout ideas and gourmet recipes below.

Two-In-One Morsels: Quick to Whip Up and Quick to Eat

Although Christopher Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa, the self-governing part of the imperial Kingdom of Italy, his career is directly connected with Spain. Ferdinand II and Isabella I, the Spanish rulers of that time, agreed to sponsor the explorer’s journey.

Naturally, it was vitally essential for Columbus and his crew to stock up on foods that would remain edible, healthful, and nutritious for a long time. In addition, those foods must have been easy to cook and quick to eat. Sailors were quite busy guys and they did not have time to enjoy all the savors and flavors of Spanish specialties.

Fortunately, at your fall picnic you will have enough time to get real pleasure from the appetizers we selected for you. But they are still quick and easy to cook – the ideal option for eating alfresco.

Spanish-style antipasto

Salted meats were irreplaceable in the diet of sailors and travelers of Columbus’ times. Served with fresh or grilled vegetables and olives, these traditional Spanish beef and pork delights will be wonderful nibbles to heat up the appetites of your dearest and nearest:

Spanish-Italian cheese platter

The legend has it that before setting sail, Christopher Columbus and his crew stopped on the Canary Islands, not far from the Spanish coast, to get some cheeses on board. A smart decision, wasn’t it?

Even if you do not plan on going to the sea trip on October 8, including a cheese platter into your picnic menu is still a great idea. While Columbus probably stocked up on Spanish cheeses only, we offer you to mix both Spanish and Italian delights this time.

Chefs and aficionados believe that an ideal cheese platter should have cheeses of four types: aged, firm, blue, and soft. So, let’s check out the following combinations:

And don’t forget to bring your favorite olives or nuts.

What about some jarred pesto pasta salad?

columbus2018 1This salad combines the best Mediterranean flavors: Spanish, Italian, and Greek. We refrain from describing how sumptuous this dish is. It is just worth noting that it will take you about 20 minutes to prepare and that it is absolutely transportable.  

Here is the recipe for six yields:

  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1 pt. cherry tomatoes (you can halve them if they are large)
  • 1 c. feta, crumbled
  • 1/3 c. Parmesan, grated
  • 1/3 raw walnuts, toasted (or you can try this walnut pesto)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chop them roughly)
  • Italian pesto, to taste
  • fresh basil leaves, to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste   

Cook pasta in salted water according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, add 1-2 tbsp. of pesto to mason jars. After pasta is ready, let it cool for 5 min. and then divide it among jars. Add Parmesan, tomatoes, and feta. Top the salad with basil. That’s it. Enjoy!

Seasonal Solutions to Your Best BBQ

But first let’s pay tribute to the indigenous tribes Christopher Columbus met on the island where he landed. He and his crew learnt a new cooking technique from the locals: meat should be roasted over an indirect flame, created with the help of green wood to keep food and wood itself from burning. The Spanish called that technique “barbacoa.”

Columbus reported about it when he came back to Europe. And his followers, exploring the lands of North America, were gradually spreading the technique across the continent and emerging colonies.

So, the origins of seemingly the most American food actually trace back to the cultures of American Indians. Thanks to their witty invention, nowadays we all can enjoy nourishing and delicious meat treat!

Here are some gourmet ideas for your October picnic.

Ingeniously simple grilled pork chops

columbus2018 2

All you need to do is to pack as many pork chops as you wish in a flavorful mixture of soy sauce and honey, spiced up with minced garlic and paprika. Let the meat refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Grill the chops over medium high heat until cooked through and seared – about 8-10 min. per side. Let the chops cool before serving.

Yep, the recipe is that simple! And mouthwatering, definitely.

Sweet and savory pork chops with greens

columbus2018 3This is a good idea for a family cookout in the backyard.

First, marinate pork chops in 1/2 cup red wine vinegar. In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in the large skillet and sliced plums or 3-4 tbsp. plum puree and sliced red onion. Stir for 5 min., until the onion gets soften, add 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp. brown sugar, and continue cooking until golden (5 min. more).

After the mixture is ready, remove the meat from the vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste. Then grill the pork chops for 4-5 min. per side.

Meanwhile prepare the arugula salad: in the bowl whisk 1 tbsp. wine vinegar, 3 tbsp. olive oil, and 1 tsp. Dijon mustard. Add arugula and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the pork chops along with the arugula salad, spooned with the plum mixture. Don’t forget to open your favorite beverage. Red wine or beer will be a great option.

And Let’s Finish It Sweetly

What can be a better finishing touch for a picnic than good old s’mores? Grab some caramel topping and chocolate syrup to turn them into a true delight!

Also, bring your favorite seasonal fruits. October is the right time for flavorful apples, pears, plums, grapes, figs… Well, you name it.

And Marky’s is happy to offer you traditional Spanish cakes with almonds, dates or figs.   

Throw a gourmet picnic and enjoy your time on Native Americans’/Columbus Day. Marky’s wishes you more new inspiring discoveries!