By Julie Hartigan of Cooking w/Julie

June 18, 2018

Host The Perfect Picnic

Summertime means longer days, gorgeous warm weather, and time spent outdoors at concerts, the beach, parks…you name it! Picnics are the perfect way enjoy the season and host a casual get-together with friends. My easy tips below will help you take your typical picnic up a notch!

♥ Setup your spot: If you can, seek out a flat, pretty location with shade. Start with a big blanket or tablecloth to spread on the ground and then add comfy extras like a lightweight low table or serving trays to put food on plus small cushions to sit on. If you’ll be there after dark string some battery operated lights from tree branches above. Another fun extra for serving wine? Pick up wine glass stakes to hold glasses for a luxe touch. A small bunch of wildflowers in a mason jar will complete the scene.

♥ Have fun with the food: Try to stick with nibbles and dishes that are easy to serve and easy to eat. A beautiful and abundant cheeseboard of imported cheeses, jams, fruit, and fresh bread is a natural!

Check out our “Top Tips to Create a Beautiful Summer Cheeseboard” for inspiration.

Sandwiches are another picnic classic and it’s easy to add upscale elegant elements to make them a bit more special. Try hollowing out a baguette, spreading with a soft imported cheese like Brie, Camembert, Delice de Bourgogne, Epoisses, or Explorateur. Add prosciutto or another aged ham, some fig jam, and arugula or watercress. Or layer roast beef with a heartier hard cheese like imported Aged Cheddar or Gouda, Gruyere, or Emmentaler on pumpernickel bread spread with grainy mustard. Cut sandwiches into servings and wrap each in wax paper tied with kitchen twine. If you want to serve something a little more substantial; a summery bowl recipe tucked in mason jars or disposable storage containers is simple to make ahead, pack, and enjoy with no serving fuss.

Our Quinoa, Beet, and Cabrales Bowls with Shrimp are easy to prepare and packed with fun flavors. 

♥ Keep things chill: When it comes to picnic drinks it’s best to keep things simple. Be sure to bring a large bottle of water and small cooler of ice. If you’d like to serve iced tea, lemonade, a cocktail, or punch like sangria serve it in an insulated drink cooler. Freeze some of your beverage into large ice cubes too (use plastic cups or molds) so it stays cold without getting watered down.

♥ Pack the basket: Run through all your menu items and make sure you’ve got the essentials you’ll need to serve them. Don’t forget sharp knives for cheese, wine bottle openers, a cutting board, napkins, cups or glasses, sunscreen, bug spray, and a garbage bag. Then add some of my favorite extras like a small Bluetooth speaker to stream music and a Frisbee, board game, or deck of cards to up the fun factor.

With just a few small additions you can really make a standard picnic setup into something special.

Happy Picnicking!