Picnic Recipes and Games

Cold Food Ideas For A Picnic

On a warm day, nothing is more enjoyable than a long, leisurely picnic. This is not the time for a hot stew or casserole. Cold foods and beverages that are easily placed in a cooler or ice chest are the quickest way to enjoy an al fresco meal. From a simple assortment of dips and spreads to a plate of imported cheeses, coldcuts, and fruits, foods that require no cooking can be incredibly satisfying and flavorful.

To begin compiling a fantastic cold picnic meal, start with a selection of breads such as pitas, Italian foccaccia, and crunchy baguettes. Next, grab a bounty of veggies that can be eaten raw. Some of the best choices for a picnic are jicama, radishes, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, mushrooms, scallions, and bell peppers. All of these vegetables can be served with ready-made spreads like hummus and olive tapenade. Basil pesto is another delicious accompaniment to raw veggies that can be made in a mere few minutes.

To create sandwiches, choose an assortment of coldcuts from your grocer's deli counter. Sliced turkey, ham, and roast beef are safe bets, but it's worth experimenting with some of the lesser-known meats such as mortadella and cotto salami. Add a few wedges of imported cheese to your picnic spread. Adventurous choices are the name of the game, so put that boring jack or cheddar block down and opt for English Stilton, aged Parmigiano-Regianno, or a smooth, mild Camembert.

Finally, pick up some fresh, ripe fruits that are in season and a great bottle of wine. Don't forget bottled water, napkins, plates, utensils, and a tablecloth. There's no need to slave over the stove for hours preparing for your next picnic. With one quick trip to the grocery store, you can have an outdoor feast fit for the most finicky of gourmands.

Basil Pesto
Serves 8

2 cups basil leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
cup Parmesan cheese
cup pine nuts

In a blender, blend basil, olive oil, cheese, and pine nuts until smooth. If too thick, add more olive oil. If thin, add more nuts or basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep chilled until ready to use.

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