Of course the beach is always a favorite spot for some, however, I am not one for sand in my sandwiches and you will always get some clever clog who decides that it is the perfect time to shake that towel just as the hamper is being opened. No, with sand getting in every nook and cranny, I prefer the countryside, and it sets the scene for a relaxed and informal get together of sharing a memorable meal.
Two very memorable picnics stand out in my mind. One was where we ate cold chicken and sun-ripe tomatoes, drank champagne and finished up with strawberries - no utensils in sight, while sitting on the bank overlooking the lake at Blenheim Place, England.The other was eating a very humble lunch of ham rolls sitting in the shadows of the best preserved Greek temples outside of Greece at Paestum, south of Naples. Although the meal was very simple, the ambiance of where we were made it very special. Which just shows that simple and easy picnic food ideas don't need to be complicated to have a successful picnic! We had the place to ourselves as Paestum is largely ignored by tourists who would far rather risk life and limb careering up and down the Amalfi Coast trying to avoid wide tourist buses and crazy Vesper drivers. It was to our advantage!
When thinking about picnic food ideas, really eating outdoors can be as complicated or as easy as you want them to be. If you don't have the time and you don't mind spending some cash, then it can be as easy as going to the shops and buying some ready-made treats. However, if will be a lot more expensive than if you had cooked the food at home.
Never bring more than 4 dishes to a picnic. Keep it simple and stick to those. If you want something extra just in case someone may still be hungry then pack a hunk of cheese or an extra loaf of crusty bread. But 4 dishes, if well-planned, will feed the hungry hordes and will be easier to keep chilled if needed.
Prawns are delicious and versatile for a number of great picnic food ideas. When they have been pre-cooked and you can serve them up very simply with a jar of garlic mayonnaise and a couple of wedges of lemon. Wash them down with a lovely Chardonnay, a bottle of champagne or a couple of cold beers. You can also bread them, or even buy them breaded. Pan fry before you leave and serve with mayonnaise. Shop roasted chickens are easy too. No mess, no fuss. Carve the bird before you leave home to avoid having to bring extra knives and cutting boards.
Bread is a staple for the picnic basket. Crusty bread, French baguettes, rolls, baps or even the Labanese flat bread can be used for either making sandwiches or an accompaniment to your meal. In fact the pita bread is ideal for this situation, where you can create pita pockets by cutting off the top of the bread circle and fill it with fillings of your choice. If you have a look at the pita pockets on the left you can see that these are filled with tomatoes, celery, lettuce, ham and cheese. If you want to add mayonnaise to these, do this just before eating, or else the mayonnaise will end up soaking through the thin walls of the pockets and you will end up with a soggy mess.
Thinking of other interesting fillings and picnic food ideas for your pita pockets for your picnic lunch? Another great filling is using roasted Mediterranean vegetables like courgettes, egg plants, tomatoes, pitted black olives and some garlic. Again, because that these vegetables will have been fried in olive oil, these pockets should be assembled just before eating. Drizzle olive oil over the lot just before serving - delicious!
Cheese is another easy picnic food idea. Easy to pack in your picnic baskets, whether it is a lovely chunk of cheddar or a soft cheese like brie to finish off the meal with some grapes, dried apricots, dried figs and biscuits. A cream cheese is also the base for many quick dips which can be made at home before hand and then used to start your picnic with either fresh vegetables such as celery sticks, carrot strips, cucumber, red and green peppers and other crudities, or with either thick-cut crisps and biscuits.
My childhood memories of eating out often included mum's homemade ginger beer. Ginger Beer is so simple to make although it will need to be made at least a week before your picnic. So, I am going to leave you this Homemade Ginger Beer recipe and wish you a happy picnic! If you are looking for some more quick and easy recipes for your picnic, including a Beer Bread recipe that does just the trick, then visit our Country Cooking Recipes page.
1 teaspoon dried yeast (do not use a brand that has bread improvers added to it)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
Ginger Beer Mixture
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon tartaric acid
2 litres hot water
juice and grated rind of 2 lemons
2 litres of cold water
A handful of raisins
Stir the yeast mixture ingredients together and leave for about 10 minutes. Place the sugar, ginger and tartaric acid and raisins in a clean bucket. Pour in the hot water and lemon juice, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the cold water, cool to lukewarm and add the yeast. (It is important to wait for the water to cool down because if you don't and you add the yeast you will kill it, and your ginger beer will not be nice at all.)
Cover the bucket with a clean tea towel for about 24 to 36 hours. Strain equally into 4 thoroughly clean glass or plastic 1.25 litre bottles. Fill the bottles to within 5 cm of the top with extra cold water and add 1 teaspoon of sugar into each bottle. Make sure that each bottle has a few raisins.
Screw on the tops and shake each bottle to dissolve the sugar. Leave the bottles to stand in a warm place for between 2 - 5 days. When the raisins start rising to the top of the bottles then you know that your ginger beer is ready to be refrigerated. Refrigerate to chill and your ginger beer is ready to be drunk. The tops will have to be loosened every second day or so until they are drunk as gas will be trapped in the bottles and needs to be released. Ginger beer, made like this, should be consumed within 3 weeks.
We have lots of pages where you can contribute to throughout this website. We love hearing from our readers, and hope you will be one of those we hear from too. Feel free to add your own comments relating to summer picnics or submit your picnic food ideas here.
Do you have a great picnic food idea, or a picnic food recipe you would like to share? Feel free to add it to our list!
What do you think of the picnic food idea or recipe? Have you tried it? Was it any good? Can you add to this submission? Feel free to add a comment.
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