Summer is such a lovely time of year for picnics. The sun filtering through the trees, cool breezes blowing in off a lake or pond, or the simple bliss of your own backyard with ample shade and a patch of grass to spread a blanket. A backyard picnic can be just as fun as one in a park, especially when you have picnic recipes with a twist.
Serve It Cold
While fall picnics are lovely with hot soups, toasted sandwiches, and thermoses filled with steaming cocoa, summer picnics are so much nicer when everything is cold and refreshing. That doesn’t mean a sparse picnic with food so light you’re ravenous an hour later. Instead, focus on filling and savory ingredients that taste good cold and will keep well sitting outside for the duration of your picnic.
I love a platter of nibbles, especially interesting bites like spiced pickled cherries, pickled garlic, and home-cured olives fragrant with lemon zest and fresh dill. Choose an assortment of things you like best, and serve them in a pretty platter that’s easy to pass around and won’t tip easily. Try sun-dried tomatoes, spiced roasted nuts, or fire roasted bell peppers.
While it’s easy enough to serve a loaf of crusty bread or rounds of rustic flat bread, I like to make things a bit more interesting with a savory muffin that is moist and tender and packed with flavor. These beauties are sweetened with honey and filled with sliced sun-dried tomatoes and chunks of tangy Feta cheese. Add some freshly ground pepper and a few shakes of Hungarian paprika, and you’ve got savory muffins that will pair beautifully with your platter of pickled nibbles.
Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Muffins
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced (reserve oil)
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese, drained and diced
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1/3 cup reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in large bowl. Add dry ingredients and stir gently until flour isn’t visible. Do not over stir.
Grease muffin tins (or use muffin cups) and fill nearly to top with batter. Bake 20-25 minutes until risen and starting to brown on top.
Cool on counter and serve warm or at room temperature.
Quiche is my favorite picnic food. It’s so easy to make, especially when you’ve got leftovers to throw in, and it tastes scrumptious straight out of the cooler. Honey Thyme Quiche with Chicken and Cheddar is light and savory. For a heartier version, try Roasted Pork and Caramelized Onion Quiche. This one is especially nice served with a drizzle of Sweet Chili Sauce.
Roast Pork and Caramelized Onion Quiche
- cooking oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups shredded roast pork
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (plus more to serve)
Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook slowly for 30-40 minutes until onion is soft, brown, and sweet.
Preheat oven to 350F.
In medium bowl mix onion with remaining ingredients.
Pour mixture into greased pie pan and bake 30-40 minutes until middle is set and top starts to brown.
Cool on counter then chill until ready to serve.
Serve with sweet chili sauce.
I’m not a big fan of sugary drinks, even on a picnic, so I always make a big jug of iced tea sweetened with honey. While sweet black tea is always a welcome guest, I love iced herbal teas such as mint, pineapple sage, or, today’s concoction, Hibiscus Lime Iced Tea. Fruity and rich with a gorgeous color, it’s the perfect thing to sip on when that summer heat gets too intense.
For dessert, I like to keep things simple. Since I’m picnicking in the backyard, it’s easy to run to the freezer and pull out ice cream to serve with fat, ripe strawberries. If the day isn’t too hot, I might make a jam tart with blackberry jam. If it is, a dollop of Greek yogurt sweetened with raw honey and a teaspoon of pure vanilla is perfectly splendid when drizzled with caramelized balsamic vinegar.