Once a summer, my in-laws host a picnic overlooking Lake Harriet on a warm summer’s night. They put on the best picnics—everything is laid out to perfection, with red-and-white checked tablecloths, refreshing drinks, and of course mouth-watering food. You never know what they’re going to serve, which is part of the fun. At your next picnic, you may want to think outside the usual picnic basket box and serve up something that’s creative, mobile, and outdoor-dining friendly.
Main Courses:Dishes that aren’t messy, don’t need to be heated, and are fun to eat are good choices for al fresco dining. You could make a teriyaki roast beef ahead of time and serve it chilled with a dipping sauce. You could also pre-grill a steak and serve it chilled and sliced on a sandwich or with a sauce. Sandwiches, wraps, and pitas are good, easily prepared choices. For my favorite veggie wrap, I buy a spinach wrap, spread it with roasted red pepper hummus, and load it with greens, sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, pea pods—whatever veggies I have on hand. Just be sure to leave enough space to roll up the wrap! Pita pockets can be filled with tabouleh, chicken, or tuna salad. I also like the “Summer Rolls” recipe from Cobornsdelivers.com under “Easy Eats” (look under “Seasonal”, then “All Seasonal”).
- Salads: You could stick with family favorites—potato, pasta, or tuna salads are good, just be sure to keep them adequately chilled. Under “Easy Eats,” you could check out “Chicken Cucumber Melon Salad” and “Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Dill Balsamic” (both under “All Seasonal”) for new ideas. A corn-black bean salad or other summer salad might rev up your taste buds, too.
- Appetizers: You could go Italian and serve up some antipasto options, such as olives, cured meats (like salami and prosciutto), marinated mushrooms and artichoke hearts, and hard boiled eggs. Other options include chilled shrimp cocktail, chips and homemade guacamole, deviled eggs, mini cucumber sandwiches, crackers with olive tapenade, and fruit skewers.
Desserts:I consider it a “must” to end your picnic on a sweet note. Brownies, blondies, Rice Krispies treats, Special K bars, and other bars are easily portable. If you like crepes, you could make some ahead of time and top them with my personal favorites, Nutella and sliced strawberries (these are a bit on the messy side, I admit, but are delicious). I also like the “Turtle Bars” recipe from cobornsdelivers.com (under “All Seasonal again!).
There are so many delicious choices for picnic foods. Combine your family favorites with some new, unique ideas and you’re sure to have a delicious picnic with new memories to boot.