5 Summertime Picnic Recipes for Your Sunday
It’s Sunday. The sun is baking your skin to dangerously crispy levels. You are holding onto the weekend with a death grip, and you are ready to relax. Hard. You’ve given up on sitting in chairs and having sophisticated conversations. It’s the end of the weekend, and the best move is to take to the ground and munch on fresh bites with the people you love. It’s picnic time!
I am pretty much Yogi Bear. I am always on the lookout for an excuse to have a picnic, and in the summer, I find myself toting a bag of goodies with me everywhere I go. And I’m not talking pb&j sandwiches (though, lord knows I love em), I am talking fresh, hearty meals that are easy to put together, effortless to transport and that make you happy when you eat them. Our summertime picnics are so good, we’ve deemed them pioneers of their own genre: the #legitnic.
So here’s a few of my favorite summertime #legitnic-worthy recipes, with some tips and tricks from picnics that will live on through the ages. Enjoy!
1. Tofu “Egg” Salad Sandwiches
Tofu “egg” salad sandwiches are a picnic standby for me. They are cheap, healthy and so so easy to whip up. I also always seem to have the ingredients I need to make a tasty batch. The rule of thumb here is that you can make a tofu “egg” salad with the same ingredients as a REAL egg salad–so throw in the flavors you like best and chow down. Here’s how I do it:
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 celery rib, minced
- 1 medium dill pickle, minced
- 1/2 tbsp fresh dill
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- salt and pepper for taste
- Cut up tofu into small cubes, throw in a bowl.
- Mix in all ingredients and chill for at least an hour.
- Serve on sandwiches immediately before eating (or bread will get soggy).
So that’s a simple version. This serves about 4-5 people, and you can either make it the night before or right before you embark on your picnic journey. For a more sophisticated take on this twisted classic, check out The Kitchn’s Lemony Tofu Egg Salad Recipe.
2. Roasted Chickpea & Vegetable Pasta Salad
Here is another easy-to-whip-up-while-you-pack-your-beach-bag dish. Once you get the water boiling and ingredients chopped, you can throw everything in and let the magic happen without constant supervision–that’s what I call Sunday cooking.
This dish is also adaptable, so whatever flavors make you happy can dominate. But since it’s summertime, I like to use seasonal veggies like tomatoes, basil and squash and give this simple staple a Mediterranean flair.
- 1 box of fusilli (other pastas work fine. not spaghetti, tho.)
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 squash, cubed
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 jar artichoke hearts, chopped into small sections
- 1/2 can black olives, sliced
- 1 handful basil, sliced
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Put water on to boil for pasta.
- Place squash, onion and chickpeas on a baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over and spread out evenly. Place in oven until veggies are soft/translucent and chickpeas and golden/crisp. (They can all be on one pan).
- Your water should be boiling, so throw in the pasta. Follow directions of package for time and drain.
- The rest of the ingredients can go ahead and wait together in a large bowl. When the veggies and chickpeas are done (probably around 35 minutes), toss them into the big bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
- Mix well and let chill for an hour. It only gets better the longer it sits.
Here is a recipe with a pesto vinaigrette for another option.
3. Fresh Herb Potato Salad
This is one of the rare recipes that I abide by religiously. I follow the directions from Thug Kitchen precisely, and every time it is a masterpiece. It’s a potato salad with no mayo, and chocked full of yummy herb goodness. It’s fresh, it’s filling, it’s perfect for a picnic or a party or any time you need food in your stomach. Also, it’s the most entertaining recipe I’ve ever read. Give this one a read, and a taste. You will not be disappointed.
4. Caprese Sandwiches
A group of lady friends and I ate these while sitting by a lake in early spring, and let me tell you: They made us feel fancy schmancy! My good friend Jess showed up with the ingredients for these capreses neatly disassembled. She had mozzarella sliced in one Tupperware, tomato in another, a bag of sliced fresh bread, a container of basil and even a little Tupperware with balsamic vinaigrette–it was magical.
We each put together our sandwiches with our personal tastes in mind, and then chomped away. Because the ingredients were separated, everything tasted fresh. Total pro move.
5. Beet Hummus and 5-min Artisan Bread
It was a rainy day, and we had big plans that would not come to fruition. Instead, we sat in my car at the entrance of a trail head and ate our picnic awkwardly on the center console, checking the radar every few seconds to see how long the storm would last. Out of nowhere, my long-time friend Anna, who I am now convinced is some kind of baker-magician, presented fresh artisan-style bread cradled around a bowl of beet hummus. Both homemade. Both exactly what was need on that rainy day.
Her bread recipe came straight from The Splendid Table . It’s a quick and easy version that produces stellar results. The hummus is a basic hummus recipe (I have a simple recipe you and follow here) with the addition of roasted red peppers and beets. She blended those up with the simple hummus and wallah! Burgundy roasted-root dip that’s good on everything.The beets bump up the flavor and the nutrition. #Legitnic at its best.
Hannah O. Brown is a journalist, instructor and food enthusiast. She is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida studying interdisciplinary ecology. In her spare time, she stars in a cooking show on YouTube. Follow her on Twitter at @hannah_o_brown or LinkedIn.