In the US and UK, having picnics is a summer tradition among friends and family. They are one of the highlights of the season. But before you enjoy some outdoor fun in the sun, choosing what to put in your picnic basket can be a headache. There’s plenty to consider, because picnic food needs to travel well and be easy to eat.
By introducing some traditional picnic foods, we hope to expand your choices beyond just buying sandwiches, cookies and snacks in the supermarket.
Cold fried chicken
Cold fried chicken served outdoors on a red-checkered tablecloth is the essence of picnic nostalgia in the US. Because fried chicken keeps well and is just as delicious cold as it is hot, it’s ideal for picnic situations.
Chicken also appears on picnic menus in other forms. You could enjoy a chicken salad, creamed chicken, or even chicken soup in a thermos for picnics on colder days.
The classic American dish shows up on picnic menus quite often. And it’s easy to make and reinvent, because mashed potatoes go with different kinds of dressings. Besides the traditional mayonnaise dressing, you can also dress it with oil and vinegar, bacon ranch or sour cream.
Serve with watermelon and chocolate brownies, and you’ve got yourself a top-notch picnic.
Fruit and cheese platter
French people like keeping it simple, so fruit and cheese are quite common at picnics. Due to the picnic conditions (often in hot weather), hard cheeses tend to fare better.
A few tasty combinations: Cheddar and apples (sprinkle the apples with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown); watermelon and feta; ripe figs and blue cheese; tomatoes and mozzarella; or ricotta and grapes. Pack fruit and cheese separately to keep the flavors fresh.
The Scotch egg, a staple at traditional British picnics, is easily eaten as a finger food. It’s made by boiling an egg, encasing it in sausage meat, rolling it in breadcrumbs and then deep-frying it. Keep the Scotch eggs in the refrigerator, ready to be served cold at your picnic.
There are many variations on this classic food, such as using duck or quail eggs and different types or flavors of sausage.
In a country known for its abundance of seafood, a picnic wouldn’t be complete without a seafood dish. Prawn salad, which is easy to make, keep and eat, naturally goes on the list.
Just boil a handful of prawns, remove the shells and mix them with salad vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, olives and onions. A simple seasoning of salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice adds the final touch.
Japanese people love sashimi and noodles. Since sashimi isn’t easy to keep fresh, a simple dish of sesame noodles is a favorite at picnics. It’s versatile, too, as you can vary the vegetables according to the season — snow peas, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant, julienned carrots, bean sprouts, and fresh or dried mushrooms all work great.