Outside is calling. It is time to dine outside and pack a picnic. Visit the Chow Town Blog, of the Kansas City Star, for our post on picnics, with lots of tips to make the packing simple. Now, what sounds good to eat? Glamorous picnics are captured in slick photos, but so many picnics are the grab-and-go variety. Yet even if you race to the picnic table, the food need not be boring. How about some new ideas?
Hummus with pita bread may be a great start. Experiment with specialty dips and spreads in the refrigerated case at the grocery store or buy a “to-go” serving at your favorite restaurant or deli. For a change, puree a drained can of white, cannellini beans with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and season with rosemary, parsley and/or garlic.
Instead of picking up a bucket of fried chicken, fix a fresh salad of your favorite greens. Slice pieces of chicken off a rotisserie chicken and add to the salad. Pack the dressing in a small container so it is ready to add at the picnic site. Another time, thread strips of grilled beef or chicken onto skewers and pack your favorite dipping sauce.
Forget the potato salad or slaw and choose tabbouleh, a marinated Greek salad, or a couscous salad. The possibilities are endless for easy, marinated pasta and vegetable salads—start with some chopped fresh vegetables, freshly cooked pasta (cooked just until firm or al dente) and your favorite vinaigrette dressing (or try Roxanne’s favorite French Vinaigrette, previously shared on the Chow Town blog.)
Drizzle balsamic vinegar over sliced tomatoes, strawberries or peaches. Make a fresh Caprese salad by drizzling the best extra-virgin olive oil over slices of the freshest, ripe, juicy tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella slices. Make a fresh fruit salad and splash with Champagne. Deviled eggs, especially those with a lively flavor twist from jalapeno peppers, crisp bacon, Sriracha hot sauce or topped with guacamole are suddenly trendy.
Now, for dessert some of our favorites are from the Babycakes Cupcake Maker. For example, pack individual Old Fashioned White Cupcakes or Red Velvet Cupcakes in small jars; they will pack easily in the cooler so the frosting will not melt. I also love Southern Style Pecan Pies. Or maybe, cookies. So many ideas—so hard to choose. What will you pack?