24 Picnic-Perfect Meat-Free Recipes
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.
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.
Kale Salad With Spiced Chickpeas and Berries
When you make this salad, put the dressing on the bottom of your container, and arrange all of the other ingredients (except the chickpeas) on top. When it's time to serve, simply shake to combine, top with chickpeas, and enjoy.
Greek Chopped Salad with Grilled Pita
We take the extra step of grilling the bell peppers along with the pita to add a bit of char and smoky depth. You could also broil the peppers in the oven until blackened, then peel them and toast the pita until browned.
Superfast Farro and Chickpea Salad
This simple dish comes together in a flash. Sturdy grains and wholesome chickpeas add heft to whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. Delicious, filling, and endlessly adaptable, you'll make this all summer long.
Soba, Snow Pea, and Asparagus Toss
Raw and barely cooked veggies offer lots of crunch in this speedy main. The beauty of this dish is that it's meant to be eaten room-temperature, so it's a natural picnic dish. The dressing delivers salty, toasty, tangy, and pungent flavors, with the underlying complexity of Chinese hot mustard. If you can’t find Chinese mustard, use Dijon for less bite.
Mushroom and Asparagus Grain Bowl
Grain bowls are great for a last-minute picnic basket—just top precooked or leftover grains with veggies. Just as delicious when it's warm on a cool night, or room temperature on a warm day.
Mixed Grain, Cherry, and Snap Pea Salad
Fresh cherries take the place of tomatoes in this triple-grain salad. Bulgur, quinoa, and brown rice make for a nutty, wonderfully textured base, though you can omit the bulgur and double the quinoa for a gluten-free version. Extra crunch comes from fresh snap peas and red onion.
Falafel, Feta, and Tomato Salad
Think of chopped falafel as a tasty, protein-packed crouton—it adds texture to the salad and instantly turns a simple side into a substantial main dish. We chose a Mediterranean theme here, but you could use any nuts, cheeses, or vegetables you like.
Churrasco-Style Tofu Steaks with Hemp Chimichurri
Be sure to press and drain as much liquid as possible before cooking the tofu; it will better absorb the spices from the dry rub and reach its full grilling potential. Hemp seeds lend quality plant protein to zesty chimichurri and are a rich source of heart-healthy fats and fiber.
Smoked Barley, Beet and Grapefruit Salad
A sweet vinaigrette, earthy beets, and the intense citrus twang of grapefruit balance the robust smoky hit of the grains for a memorable salad. To make sure you're getting the whole-grain version of barley, look for hulled, and skip past pearled.
A little chipotle pepper in the dressing lends smoky heat to the dish. A touch of sugar and tangy lime juice balance the pleasant bitterness of radicchio. You can make this slaw up to a day ahead. The radicchio will soften a little as it chills, but the broccoli and cabbage stay crunchy.
Smashed Chickpea Salad Toasts
A little reminiscent of both tuna salad and egg salad, this combo of coarsely mashed chickpeas, mayo, pickles, celery, and onion is all at once creamy, crunchy, and toothsome. We like serving it as an open-faced tartine or toast, but you can also sandwich it between two bread slices or serve it with whole-grain crackers. For a vegan version, choose a vegan mayo, and you’ll be good to go. Perfect for a picnic, and hearty enough for meat-eaters and herbivores alike.
Miso Aioli Dip
All you need is a blender to serve this miso aioli dip with your next platter of fresh crudités. A little spicy, a little umami, and the ultimate complement to picnic-perfect veggies at the height of their summer sweetness.
For an Italian-inspired version, use cannellini beans in place of the chickpeas and chopped fresh basil instead of chives. For a heartier dish, spoon over whole-wheat linguine and top with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a grating of fresh Parmesan.
Miso Deviled Eggs
This fun twist on deviled eggs is a nice change-of-pace dish for your next picnic. After all, what is a picnic without deviled eggs? With just a hint of tang and spice, they’ll appeal to all, including folks who aren’t particularly adventurous eaters. Try to use older eggs—they will peel more easily. Look for shichimi togarashi in the same place you buy miso.
Elote-Style Zucchini Noodles
Elote is the Mexican street food of your dreams: a grilled ear of corn dressed with mayo, chile powder, crumbly queso fresco, and a squeeze of lime. We translate the dish into a fresh zucchini noodle salad (trust us, you won’t be bored of abundant summer squash with this recipe). If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a julienne peeler. You could also cut the squash into thin planks and then slice into thin strips.
Smoked Potato Salad
This version of picnic-classic potato salad will wow, from its beautiful indigo color to its rich, smoky flavor. A nice hit of cumin and chipotle chile powder amplifies the smokiness and makes for a deeply savory salad. If the purple potatoes (or other small, waxy potatoes if you can’t find purple ones) are larger than we specify, cut them in half so they’ll cook evenly and get tender.
Feta-Herb Edamame Succotash
This speedy, veggie-packed entrée is light yet satisfying, and it holds up great when prepared a day in advance—perfect for picnic lunches and suppers. We love for the glories of summer produce, but if they're not in season, frozen vegetables and year-round grape tomatoes do the job wonderfully. Edamame adds hearty texture and a hit of plant-based protein.
Watermelon is a picnic must-have! White balsamic vinegar is best in this refreshing salad as it adds acid without overpowering the sweetness of the watermelon. You can also substitute unseasoned rice vinegar or even fresh lime juice, adding a touch of honey if needed. Fresh torn mint will work in place of the basil.
Vegetable and Goat Cheese Frittata
A veggie-loaded frittata is a great way to use up produce odds and ends. Broccoli is an excellent addition here: The florets poke through the egg mixture and become delightfully frizzled in the oven. Look for refrigerated pico de gallo in the prepared produce section of the supermarket. This is just as tasty cold or room-temperature as it is fresh out of the oven. Serve with a green salad.
Beet and Goat Cheese Tart
This show-stopping tart can be a light main or an impressive appetizer. The classic pairing of sweet beets with tangy goat cheese gets wrapped up in a store-bought crust for an effortless, easy-to-eat picnic-ready dish.
Pasta With Shaved Asparagus and Pea Pesto
This handsome pasta is veggie-heavy: shaved asparagus gets tangled up with noodles, and peas are the base of bright pesto. A beautiful complement to whatever else you've decided to pack in your basket.
Half beer, half citrus soda, the Radler is Germany’s version of the shandy. Our take on this crisp, cooling libation is only 90 calories per serving and slashes sugar by trading store-bought soda for fresh lemon and lime juice. Our Radler is tangy and lightly sweet with just the right amount of bitterness for balance. The best part—we fully utilize all cans involved, so no awkward leftovers. For a twist, try swapping in different citrus juices or sparkling water flavors. For the best results, make sure your ingredients are sufficiently chilled beforehand.