We’re not ones to generalize — but everyone loves a picnic. Rest on your laurels, sunshine. We’ve gathered everything you’ll need for the summer’s movable feasts.
Work from bottoms up with a lovely upcycled blanket or practical waterproof number. A picnic’s not a picnic without an English basket (or at least a Swedish backpack). Keep the troops entertained with a paint-your-own cornhole set. Then go the extra mile with building block salt and pepper shakers, an organic bug catcher, and dusk-chasing nautical lanterns hanging from a tree.
Fresh-squeezed lemonade and a summery white are a given. Michael McAvena of The Publican restaurant in Chicago suggests beer mimosas (mix effervescent wheat beer with fresh OJ in a four-to-one ratio) or a Black Velvet cocktail (4 oz. champagne and 4 oz. stout, stirred).
Without grub, a picnic becomes, well, a nap. We called some of our favorite American chefs to ask for their best, easiest outdoor recipes. Get cookin’ with two salads, a BBQ in a jar, and fruit focaccia dessert.
Mazzancolle (Caramote Prawns) and Cannellini Beans
Restaurant: Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, Las Vegas
Mix 2 pints quartered cherry tomatoes, a handful of coarsely chopped basil, 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir vigorously to create a creamy tomato basil sauce. In a pot of salted water, warm 3 cups cooked cannellini beans in a strainer. Drain beans and add to tomatoes. Bring water to a boil again and cook 18 prawns (or shrimp) for a few minutes. When cooked, add to mix. Add sea salt and fresh pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Mom-Mom Rosie Bova’s Jersey Tomato and Corn Salad
Restaurant: The Little Owl, NYC
Grill 3 ears of corn (husks on, wrapped in aluminum foil) for 30 minutes, turning every 3-5 minutes. Once cobs are cool, cut kernels off and place in a large bowl. Add ¼ white onion (sliced), torn basil leaves, parsley leaves (from the garden, of course), and 2 roughly chopped Jersey beefsteak tomatoes. Season heavily with salt, McCormick’s lemon black pepper, and a dash of celery seed. Finish with a few sprinkles of red wine vinegar and 3 pours of extra-virgin olive oil around the bowl.
That Thing in a Jar
Catering Business: That Thing in a Jar, Atlanta
Put homemade coleslaw and smoked turkey in a jar. Drizzle a bit of organic apple juice for sweetening. Add a layer of chopped barbecue meat from the grill, drizzle with barbecue sauce (add a touch of organic honey), and top with a layer of mac ’n’ cheese. (Anderson suggests baked elbow mac with white cheddar and parmesan grated coarsely over the top.) Finish with a layer of crumbled cornbread.
Fresh Fruit Focaccia
Restaurant: Little Dom’s, Los Angeles
Take store-bought pizza dough, divvy up into 3 oz. portions, and flatten evenly on well-oiled baking sheet. Divide 2 cups sliced fruit (peaches! plums! berries! whatever!) over each piece and press into dough. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary, drizzle with EVOO, and generously top with 1 tbsp. sugar. Bake at 350° until bottoms are crisp (about 15 minutes).
Here’s to making a blanket statement.
Now, where to go for that epic picnic? Get ideas for Summer Trippin’.