6 Simple Picnic Ideas for Memorial Day Weekend
This post written by guest blogger – Heidi Drygas
I know what you’re thinking. You’re about to head out on a picnic to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, but you’ve prepared nothing, and opening your refrigerator and cupboards leaves you feeling completely uninspired. So you reach for the trusty ol’ peanut butter, the jar of strawberry jam, and the loaf of bread, all while feeling guilty about your inability to come up with anything creative and fun to eat while enjoying the great outdoors. I know what you’re thinking…because I’m guilty of the same PB & J crime. But this Memorial Day weekend, it’s time to try some easy picnic ideas that will leave your family and friends asking for seconds!
When it comes to deceptively easy culinary creations, Italians do it best. And their secret is simple: if you start with good ingredients, there’s no need to fuss with them! For this salad, chop up a couple ripe tomatoes and mix with cubes of fresh mozzarella (or use mini balls of mozzarella, called “bocconcini”), thin slices of red onion, and torn basil leaves in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Tear up or cube a crusty baguette into bite-sized pieces and place in a separate plastic bag or bowl. Bring a separate container of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (sprinkled with salt and pepper). At the picnic, add the bread to the tomato mixture and add as much oil & vinegar as you like. Presto-you have a gourmet salad on the go!
2. Baguette Sandwiches
When in doubt, do as the French do. Take a baguette, slice it in half longwise, and let your imagination run wild! I love to spread butter on each half of the baguette and fill it with slices of brie and apples. Or spread softened goat cheese on each side, and pile on leftover grilled vegetables such as eggplant, bell peppers, or asparagus. If you’re adventurous, spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on each half of the bread, slather some pate on one side, and top it with some baby arugula. For the picnic, wrap each serving in parchment paper to keep the baguettes from getting soggy.
If you’re looking for healthy dessert to take with you on your picnic, slice and chop up your favorite fruits, and put them on skewers. It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it sure is a handy one. No bowls or forks needed! Pineapple, cantaloupe, bananas, strawberries, grapes, mangos…use your family’s favorite combination. To make it even easier, let the grocery store do the work for you and pick up pre-sliced fruit on your way home. For a little extra pizzazz, top each fruit skewer with a sprinkling of Li Hing Mui, or dried plum powder. It’s sweet, salty, and tangy, and delectable on fruit!
4. Curried Chicken Pita Pockets
A pita pocket is a perfect vessel for any number of fillings, but it’s especially good filled with a curried twist on the classic chicken salad. Remove and chop up the meat from a rotisserie chicken, add mayo to taste, chopped celery, chopped almonds, curry powder to taste, dried cranberries or dried currants, a little salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Fill the pitas with the chicken salad mixture and green leaf lettuce. If you’re not going to eat them immediately, place the pitas wrapped in foil in an insulated tote or cooler with a few ice packs.
Ranch dressing and veggies is so last century! To update veggies and dip, try softening goat cheese with a little sour cream, add whatever fresh herbs are in your fridge (chives, dill, and parsley are delicious together), add a dash of salt and pepper, and you have a new way to enjoy crudité!
6. Nutella & Banana Wraps
Peanut butter and jelly is classic. And classically unoriginal (see item 1, above). Instead, spread Nutella (an Italian chocolate and hazelnut spread- the food of the Gods) over a flour tortilla, add sliced bananas (or strawberries), sprinkle with sliced almonds, wrap it up like a burrito, and enjoy! This one is sure to remain a classic with your family, and is also a perfect snack to take on hikes and long bike trips.
Have any simple picnic recipes you’d like to share? Try this delicious and simple Raw Kale and Strawberry Salad recipe for your next picnic on the go!