22 Recipes That Turn a Picnic Into an Event
Zucchini Pesto with Crudités
Serve this summery zucchini pesto on a platter with colorful veggies. The cooked zucchini is delicious on its own (try it as a spread) and even better blended with almonds, fresh herbs, and cheese. Garnish with a little extra cheese, if desired.
Pan Bagnat Tuna Sandwich
Quality ingredients make all the difference here. Use premium canned or jarred white tuna, the best fruity olive oil you have, and garden-fresh veggies. We chop up the olives and capers and mix them into the tuna for a briny flavor hit that won’t slip out of your sandwich as you eat. Niçoise are small French black olives; kalamata olives will work just fine in their place.
Goat Cheese Crostini with Watermelon-Beet Salsa
You can use any type of beet, or substitute chopped tomato or more watermelon. Juicy produce adds a nice balance to the tangy flavor of the goat cheese, without becoming runny or mushy. These mini crostini make for the perfect appetizer for a crowd, or a fun summertime snack.
Veggie Salad in a Jar
Layer a colorful salad in portable glass jars. Kids will give it a thumbs-up. Make these salads up to a day ahead; pack them tightly with the dressing on the bottom, followed by denser ingredients that won't get soggy while they marinate. Customize with your favorite seasonal veggies, fresh cheeses, and whole grains. These make great additions to lunch bags, picnic baskets, or road trip coolers and can easily double if you need lunch for 4 people.
Sweet Pea and Avocado Dip with Baked Pita Chips
Incorporating green peas into this tasty summer snack not only reduces the amount of fat but also adds sweetness and further brightens the green color.
Chamomile-Strawberry-Orange Cold-Brewed Tea
Fruit adds sweetness to this refreshing drink. If you wish, substitute raspberries for the strawberries, or drop in a sprig of lemon verbena to boost the aromatic citrus.
Zucchini and Goat Cheese Quiche
Is there anything more French than a savory vegetable quiche? Choose fresh-looking, smooth-skinned zucchini. If you have a vegetable garden, add strips of squash blossom to the tart, as well. Crumbled goat cheese and diced ham give the tart a complex flavor.
Summer Melon Salad
To achieve beautiful, crater-free spheres, press the cup of the melon baller flat and firmly into the flesh of a halved seeded melon. Then turn 180 degrees (or 360 degrees if the melon needs additional shaping), and lift.
Pesto Pasta Salad With Tomatoes and Mozzarella
This Caprese-inspired pasta toss is the ultimate summer main for a busy weeknight, outdoor picnic, or lunch on the go. Use yellow and red tomatoes for a stunning presentation and wonderful flavor variety.
Chicken and Arugula Pasta Salad
In this dish, just a bit of a rich and pungent cheese can go quite a long way. Tossing hot pasta with a few ounces of creamy Brie makes for a light, luscious, and flavorful sauce to coat this abundant bowl of chicken, fresh veggies, and whole-grain noodles.
Carne Asada Steak Sandwiches
Chile-Lime Watermelon Wedges
A dusting of smoky chile powder, earthy cumin, zingy lime rind, and a hit of salt turns watermelon's flavor up to 11.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Charred Asparagus and Snap Peas
Reserve some marinade to serve as the sauce, saving time and uniting flavors. For extra charred flavor, cook the veggies in a cast-iron skillet directly on the grill instead of the stovetop.
Nectarine and Bulgur Salad
No nectarines? Sub in your favorite stone fruit, such as peaches or plums. You can make this side dish gluten-free by using quinoa in place of the bulgur.
Haricots Verts with Cherry Tomatoes and Mushrooms
Sweet cherry tomatoes and earthy mushrooms tossed with delicate French green beans make a colorful and flavorful addition to your weeknight dinner.
Andrew Zimmern's Grilled Corn and Snap Pea Salad
You can assemble this salad the day before you plan to serve it, but toss in dressing just before serving to keep Zimmern's salad as crisp as he intended.
Strawberry-Chicken Salad with Pecans
This main-dish salad features juicy strawberries at their seasonal peak.
Mushroom-Potato Salad with Miso "Mayo"
White miso is the umami-bomb base of the dressing that will have you licking the bowl. It's potato salad like you've never had before, guaranteed to steal the show at your next barbecue.
This berry and citrus combination makes for an intense burst of flavor that dances on the taste buds. It's as wonderful to look at as it is to serve and eat.
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Classic lemon squares can contain 36g sugar per piece. We put a puckery cheesecake spin on ours—cutting sugar to just 6g per bar—which allows the bright citrus to shine.
Chilled Peaches in Orange Flower Water
This dish is all about the fragrant orange flower water. Look for it in Mediterranean markets or speciality supermarkets. At farmers' markets, you can find peaches whose flesh is nearly red, their skin fragile and lightly furred, their flavor intensely perfumed and deep. This recipe, which couldn't be simpler, exemplifies the most important tenet of all French coking—when you have fabulous ingredients, get out of the way and let them speak for themselves. Chilling the peaches makes them easier to slice nicely and gives a refreshing edge to their flavor.
The rich nuttiness of the tahini is amplified in the blondie and matched by the whole-wheat flour. We like Soom brand tahini; it's unctuous and creamy with no oil slick on top (perfect for stirring into batters). Pecans contribute natural sweetness and indulgent crunch, but feel free to sub in an equal amount of another nut or a few chocolate or butterscotch chips.