Quick Bite: Host a Perfect Picnic
The perfect picnic is one that’s seasonally inspired but not time-consuming, inventive but not tough to transport. Here, find four delicious recipes that fit the bill for all your outdoor adventures
Whether it’s a garden picnic or a tailgate gathering, outdoor dining is a must in our temperate climate. To keep things simple, we came up with four delicious dishes that can be assembled in advance and served at room temperature. Dining in the Great Outdoors Keep these food safety tips in mind, particularly if you’re going further than your own backyard • Perishable foods (like our chicken sandwich) need to be kept cold, as bacteria grows best at temperatures above 40ºF. Pack food in shallow containers, then place in a cooler so that ice surrounds all sides. • Don’t keep leftovers if the food has rested at temperatures above 40ºF for more than two hours. Packing a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler makes it easy to monitor temperatures. • Cover your outdoor spread with cheesecloth or food domes to ward off bacteria-bearing insects. • If you’re eating at a picnic table, pack disposable wipes to clean it of bird droppings and other contaminants. Hand sanitizer is a must if you won’t have access to soap and water.
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread
- 1 recipe fig jam
- 1 lb. cooked chicken, pulled or thinly sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 thin slices pancetta
For the fig jam:
- 4 cups fresh figs, roughly chopped
- 2 cups port
- 2 Tbs. honey
Slice ciabatta in half lengthwise. Spread an even layer of fig jam on each side. Spread chicken over the bottom half of the loaf. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Shingle pancetta slices over chicken and turn the top side of the loaf over to close, pressing down firmly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for four to 12 hours. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and cut bread into desired-size wedges. Wrap each wedge in parchment to transport. For the fig jam: Cook all three ingredients over medium heat until the figs are softened and liquid is reduced by half. Transfer to food processor and blend to jam consistency.
- 1 head (approx. 2 pounds) cauliflower
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 4 ozs. smoked cheddar cheese, cut into bite-size pieces
- Flat-leaf parsley, torn
- 1 recipe vinaigrette dressing
For the vinaigrette dressing:
- 1 shallot
- 2 Tbs. whole grain mustard
- 3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Remove leaves, core, and tough stalks from cauliflower and cut florets into thin slices. Toss in serving bowl with carrots, cheese, and desired amount of parsley.
Pour dressing over cauliflower mixture, tossing to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight for flavors to develop. Serve room temperature.
For the vinaigrette dressing:
Mince shallot in food processor. Add mustard, vinegar, salt, and white pepper and pulse until combined. Slowly stream oil in with machine running, stopping just when mixture emulsifies.
- 3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato
- 1 recipe vinegar maple dressing
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
For the dressing:
- 1 Tbs. sherry wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. maple syrup
- Zest and juice of 1 small orange
- 1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper
- Dash of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Place sweet potatoes in a large pot with enough lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook until cubes are fork tender. Drain and cool slightly.
While potatoes are cooking, make the salad dressing.
Combine the cooked sweet potato with the celery, shallot, raisins, cherries, and pecans. Pour dressing over and toss to combine. Chill four to 12 hours. Serve chilled or room temperature.
For the streusel topping:
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
For the crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
For the filling:
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- Dash of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare the streusel topping by combining the brown sugar, flour, and almonds in a medium bowl. Using two knives, cut in butter until coarsely mixed. Set the streusel topping aside.
To make the crust, blend the flour and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Grease an eight-inch square baking dish, then line with foil and grease the foil. Press mixture into dish. Bake until crust is golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes.
To make the filling, melt the two tablespoons of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pear slices, lemon juice, brown sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are coated and softened. Spoon pear mixture over slightly cooled crust and spread evenly to the edges. Crumble streusel topping over pears. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 18 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing into bars. These can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.