Pack a perfect picnic!

July 8, 2009

Here in the Northeast, the season for picnics is pretty short, and after all the rain we’ve had this year it is shorter than ever!

So I find myself longing to squeeze in as many as I can in our busy summer schedule. Following a few rules makes the job less labor-intensive and more fun to contemplate. Then I can focus on the fun task of inviting friends and family to join my husband and me for a day sprawled on the grass.

menu tips
- Pick recipes that can be prepared ahead of time and served at room temperature.
- Keep things simple! There’s no need to go overboard and make more food than anyone can eat.
- Use the freshest produce you can find – it’s more nutritious and packed with flavor. Our local farmers’ markets are a great source of beautiful, seasonal produce!
- Make foods that can be eaten with a fork or with your fingers. It’s less fussy and easier on you and your guests.

my favorite drinks
Pome-Ade — this refreshing pomegranate lemonade is packed with antioxidants and refreshing to boot!
Rosé from Italy (preferably made with Sangiovese grapes) – it goes with everything!

my favorite picnic menu
Hummus with garlic and scallions
served with whole grain baked pita chips and vegetable sticks
Roasted vegetable wraps
Cold pasta with tomato, fresh basil and ricotta salata
Baby greens with mustard-balsamic vinaigrette
Orange madeleines with cointreau
Chocolate madeleines
Summer berries, cherries & summer fruits (all bite-size)

Pomegranate Lemonade or “Pome–Ade”

makes 4 drinks (non-alcoholic)
active time: 10 min

  1. 1 1/2 cups pure pomegranate juice
  2. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  3. 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  4. 2 cups sparkling water or club soda
  5. lemon slices as garnish

  1. Place all ingredients in a pitcher and stir. Divide into tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a lemon slice.
  2. Cook’s note: Store Pome-Ade in glass bottles with strong caps. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

drink, lemonade, pomegranate

Hummus with Garlic and Scallions

serves 4 to 6
active time: 10 min

  1. 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1–15 oz (425gr) canned chickpeas, drained
  2. 2 tablespoons Tahini
  3. 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1 large garlic clove – skinned and left whole
  6. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  7. 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  8. 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid from the chickpeas or spring water
  9. 2 scallions – root ends trimmed, tops trimmed 3″ from edge and cut in 1/4″ slices
  1. olive oil as garnish
  2. sweet Hungarian paprika as garnish

  1. Step 1: Place all ingredients, except the scallions, in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Open processor, scrape the sides and add the scallions. Pulse only a few times until scallion is finely chopped.
  2. Step 2: Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and paprika. Serve with whole grain baked pita chips and vegetable sticks.
  3. Cook’s note: The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

hors d’oeuvres, hummus, scallions

Roasted Vegetable Wrap with Heirloom Tomatoes, Black Olive Tapenade, Baby Spinach and Fresh Goat Cheese

serves 4
active time: 30 min

For the roasted vegetables

  1. 2 baby zucchinis (about 8″ long) – ends trimmed and cut lengthwise in 1/4″ slices
  2. 2 baby Japanese eggplants (about 8″ long and as straight as possible) – ends trimmed and cut lengthwise in 1/4″ slices
  3. olive oil for brushing the vegetables
  4. sea salt to taste

For the wraps

  1. 4 large flour or whole wheat tortillas
  2. 1/3 cup Black Olive Tapenade (see recipe below)
  3. 2 medium, ripe but firm, heirloom tomatoes – cut crosswise in 1/16″ slices
  4. 6 oz (170gr) fresh goat cheese
  5. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  6. 1 handful baby spinach

  1. Pre-heat oven to 500°F.
  2. Step 1: Move rack to the top of the oven. Spread vegetables on a jellyroll pan in a single layer. Brush both sides with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake for 8 minutes until nicely browned. Remove pan from oven, flip the slices and return to oven. Bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until roasted. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate to cool.
  3. Step 2: Lay 1 tortilla on a flat surface. Lay 2 slices of eggplant and then 2 slices of zucchini across the bottom half of the tortilla, 1″ from the edge. Spread a little Tapenade on top of the vegetables. Top with 3 tomato slices. Top with a little crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Top with a few baby spinach leaves. Roll tightly and cut in half. Repeat with the other tortillas and serve immediately.
  4. Cook’s note: For eating on the go, wrap first in wax paper and then in foil. Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and keep refrigerated.

sandwich, wrap, roasted vegetables

Black Olive Tapenade with Fresh Parsley

makes 1 cup
active time: 15 min

  1. 12 oz (340gr) pitted kalamata olives
  2. 1 tablespoon capers – drained
  3. 1 garlic clove – skinned and left whole
  4. 8 fresh Italian parsley sprigs – though stems removed
  5. pinch sea salt
  6. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  7. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until it forms a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Transfer to a bowl and serve.
  2. Cook’s note: Store in a sealed container and refrigerate up to 1 week.

condiment, tapenade, olives

Cold Pasta with Tomato, Fresh Basil and Ricotta Salata

serves 4 to 6
active time: 30 min

  1. 4 large ripe tomatoes – seeded and cut in 1/2″ dices
  2. 2 large garlic cloves – skinned and crushed (use microplane grater)
  3. 16 large basil leaves – torn in 1″ pieces
  4. 1 bunch fresh chives – cut in 1/2″ pieces (use kitchen scissors)
  5. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 lb (455gr) penne rigate
  7. 1 tablespoon sea salt for the pasta water
  8. 4 oz (114gr) ricotta salata – coarsely grated
  9. 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
  10. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. small basil leaves as garnish

  1. Step 1: In a large bowl, place the tomatoes, garlic, basil, chives and olive oil. Mix well and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes so that the flavors meld.
  2. Step 2: Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions, until very al dente – about 1 minute less than what package calls for. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Shake off the excess water and add to the tomato mixture along with the ricotta salata, salt and pepper. Toss well and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
  3. Step 3: Spoon pasta into bowl, garnish with the basil leaf and serve.
  4. Cook’s note: The pasta can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

pasta, tomato, ricotta salata

Baby Greens with Mustard–Balsamic Vinaigrette

serves 4 to 6
active time: 10 min

For the salad

  1. 6 oz (170gr) baby greens

For the vinaigrette

  1. 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  3. 3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  5. freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Step 1: In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, oil, salt and pepper to taste until well blended and set aside.
  2. Cook’s note: The vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.
  3. Step 2: Place the greens in a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and toss until all the leaves are well coated with the dressing, being careful not to break them. Divide into salad bowls and serve with extra ground pepper to taste if desired.

salad, baby greens, mustard vinaigrette

Orange Madeleines with Cointreau

makes 1 dozen
active time: 20 min

  1. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter – melted and slightly cooled
  2. 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. pinch sea salt
  5. 2 large organic eggs – at room temperature
  6. 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use microplane grater)
  7. 1 tablespoon Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  8. 1/4 cup organic sugar
  1. powdered sugar as garnish
  2. 1 non-stick Madeleine cookie tray – brushed with a little of the melted butter and dusted with flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Step 1: In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Step 2: In a large bowl place the eggs. Whisk with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and ribbon-y (about 2 minutes). Add the zest, Cointreau and sugar, and continue whisking at high speed until soft peaks form.
  4. Step 3: Add half the flour to the egg mixture. Fold it in carefully. Then add half the melted butter, again folding carefully. Repeat and fold again until flour and butter have been just incorporated. Do not overmix.
  5. Step 4: Spoon the batter into the prepared mold. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and carefully invert onto a cooling rack. The Madeleines should pop right out.
  6. Step 5: To serve, place the Madeleines on a serving tray and dust with powdered sugar.
  7. Cook’s note: The Madeleines are best eaten the day they’re made but will store up to 2 days in a sealed container at room temperature.
  8. Cook’s note 2: For the Chocolate Madeleines recipe, click here.

For more recipes (and videos!), come on over to Food & Style Club!

Food & Style Club is Viviane’s new interactive, multimedia cookbook that you can make your own. Get new recipes every week, add your own favorites, peruse wine notes — even chat directly with Viviane. Learn more, and try it for free!

dessert, madeleines, orange

Here’s another favorite sandwich to pack on a picnic: Pan bagnat with grilled peppers and basil vinaigrette.

© 2011 Viviane Bauquet Farre Food & Style NY LLC

Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen July 9, 2009 at 9:51 am

You pack a beautiful picnic. I’ve been looking for a basic viniagrette recipe – this looks perfect! Also the veggie wraps – love that you’ve included goat cheese, my favorite, and veggies I can get at the Farmer’s Market (oops, it’s today!! gotta get over there!)

I also enjoyed watching your grilling video – almost like “meeting” you in person! Thanks for visiting me at Nyack Backyard.


Viviane Bauquet Farre July 9, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I was at the Nyack Farmers’ Market this morning as you were writing this! Thank you for your comment – I hope you get to make some of the recipes and best of all enjoy going on a picnic!
You new piece “A few new (to me) herbs” is fabulous. Here’s the link for anyone else who reads these comments:
You made me want to double the size of my herb garden!


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