With summer weather so good we can’t bear to miss a moment or so hot we can’t stand staying indoors, we turn to picnicking for every possible meal. That frequency means we need to get creative with our picnic meals. Sandwiches are wonderful, but they’re just the beginning! Here are delicious ideas for meals that are filling, simple, and easy to transport to the nearest green space.
The rice paper holder is consistent, but what goes inside your picnic’s summer roll is totally up to you. For vegetarians, spinach and baked tofu are a winning pair; for meat eaters, try chicken and avocado or pork with shrimp and pickled radish. Tote big bowls of nuoc cham and homemade peanut sauce for dipping. Though making summer rolls can seem like a big time commitment, if you enlist a few extra hands, the task will be fun, not burdensome. (Image: Cook’n)
A collection of savory cheeses, meats, and vegetables arrives at your table when you sit down to eat in Rome. If you’re not disciplined, you won’t have any room for the main course, which is just the point here: feast on all the good stuff, like prosciutto, chunks of parmesan, marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, and crostini. (Image: Craftsy)
In the same vein, mimic the dining habits of another hot weather culture, and assemble a meal of all the best Mediterranean noshes. Arrange bowls of olives, drizzle olive oil on top of good sheep’s milk feta, mix cucumbers and garlic into yogurt for raita, toss together a salad, and maybe add some Greek-style meatballs or sliced grilled steak of extra sustenance. Scoop everything up with fresh pitas or crispy pita chips. (Image: Oil & Vinegar)
Look to your favorite simple pastas for inspiration that takes you far away from the typical mayo-laced pastas you ate at childhood barbecues. Toss tons of sautéed kale with garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, and penne for a healthy dish that’s delicious at room temperature. Creative pestos will carry the day, hot or cold, and a mix of lemon juice, parmesan, and olive oil melts into a tangy-creamy sauce for pasta that tastes far more complicated than it is (add some arugula for your green quotient!). (Image: 101Cookbooks)
Breakfast for Dinner
Make a simple frittata, slice up some good Southern-style ham, grab a loaf of whole wheat or brioche, and bring softened butter and a spreader: this easy, egg-forward breakfast is great at room temperature and no big deal to make at the last minute. Round out the heavier fare with a fruit salad and good orange juice. (Image: MyKitchenInTheRockies)
A roasted pork butt is a surprisingly easy way to feed a crowd. Roast the meat slowly in the oven (you can do this a day or two in advance), or let it simmer in the slow cooker all day while you’re at work. Douse the meat with barbecue sauce when you shred it, then warm everything up before you head to the picnic. Pack biscuits or rolls to accompany or sandwich the meat, and whip up a slaw for crunch and balance. (Image: RealFoods)