The Joys of a Carefree Picnic – City or Country – Find your Adventure!
Here are some tips for the next time you head out for the day, whether it’s a trip to the beach, attending a concert, a visit to a park, museum, or a river day by canoe. Taking an organized, well equipped picnic “basket” makes it so much easier and all the more enjoyable.
Picnics combine two of my favorite things; tasty food and time spent exploring. Planning what to pack is almost as much fun as the picnic itself.
Most modern picnic baskets aren’t made of wicker, though we do stock a few, instead they are made of nylon fabric, resulting in a tote or backpack that is soft, insulated and lightweight. Some are backpack style, leaving your hands free to carry and explore. Others are totes with a shoulder strap, providing more room for food and drink. Most come equipped with lightweight, unbreakable plates, drinking glasses and silverware for either 2 or 4 people.
Some additional reminders: Will you need a corkscrew? Picnic blanket? Hot coffee or tea? If you prefer to reduce waste, consider cloth napkins, sharp knife with guard, cutting board, re-usable straws and food wrap, such as Bees Wrap.
Now what about the food and drink? I can’t think of a better example than the menu Susan Turner developed for a class she taught here at Kitchen Outfitters in 2018 called, “Moveable Feast, Pack a Picnic”. Susan’s menu included; Beverages that sparkle and refresh, Homemade Crackers, No-knead Foccacia Bread, Spreads & Dips, Herbed Potato Salad with Olives & Capers, Grain & Vegetable Salad and Triple Chocolate “Corks”. A copy of Susan’s flavorful Potato Salad recipe is below. Susan’s broad culinary expertise combined with enthusiasm for teaching are such a gift for anyone who meets her.
Potato Salad With Lemon Caper Dressing & Herbs
From Susan Turner*
This salad is something akin to a vegetarian Niçoise. The dressing is punchy on purpose — it has to both enliven the potatoes and embrace the other vegetables. Use this recipe as a starting point, then change up the vegetables and herbs according to what’s in season and what looks best at the market.
1 pound tiny potatoes, steamed until just cooked, peels on
2–3 radishes, sliced thinly
8 large green olives, pitted and torn into pieces (Cerignola nice)
½ – ¾ cup crisp green vegetable, barely blanched, cut into slivers*
2–3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs
1–2 hard boiled eggs peeled, crumbled (or grated)
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon lemon sections, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground coarsely
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cut the potatoes into bite size pieces and mound on a serving dish. Top with the sliced radishes, then the slivered green vegetables. Arrange the olives at the edges in two or three little mounds.
Just before serving, sprinkle a small pinch of salt and a liberal amount of black pepper over the vegetables. Spoon/drizzle about half the dressing over the vegetables, then sprinkle on the herbs. Top with the egg. Serve the extra dressing on the side.
*Try snap peas, green beans, English peas, of even small florets of broccoli. Asparagus is also very nice – if it’s very fresh (local) there’s no need to blanch it. You can add any other vegetables you like, really, for example finely julienned carrot or slivers of salad turnip or fresh red bell pepper.
In addition to the minced herbs, I like adding a scattering of torn fresh basil leaves. And, serving this atop a bed of little gem lettuce wouldn’t be a bad idea.
*Come Meet Susan at Kitchen Outfitters on August 24th, 2019 from 11:00 - 2:00 for an in-store Demo.