Summer may officially be winding down, but bright sunshine and warm days are anticipated to continue well into September and even October for those southern states. Take advantage of the balmy days and plan a picnic outing on a weekend afternoon or evening! There are plenty of classic ‘picnic foods’ out there – sandwiches and potato salad anyone? – but we’d like to think there are also plenty of ways to kick it up a notch.
One of the main limitations of picnic food and drink is its necessity to be transportation-friendly. No one wants to haul heavy plates and metal flatware out to a park – heck, even remembering plastic forks and spoons is a burden. So when planning an outing, finger-foods are still the best bet. Our new unconventional favorite? Kebabs! Extremely versatile and extremely portable, this picnic-friendly fare can be grilled ahead of time and wrapped in foil for transportation. If you’re picnicking in a park that provides grill space, kebabs can easily be prepared ahead of time, packed in Tupperware for transportation, and grilled on site. One of our favorite kebab combinations is prosciutto-wrapped chicken with grape tomatoes, recipe below:
Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken | Serves 4 | 30 minutes
Vegetable oil for the grill
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 24 pieces (about 1 ½ inches each)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, grated
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pinch of salt
4 ounces fontina cheese, cut into 24 cubes (about ½ an inch, each)
24 thin slices prosciutto
1 pint grape tomatoes
1.Preheat a grill to medium high & brush the grates with vegetable oil. Toss chicken in the olive oil, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, red pepper flakes, & salt in a large bowl. Place a cheese cube on a piece of chicken and wrap tightly with a slice of prosciutto. Repeat with remaining chicken, cheese, and prosciutto.
2.Thread the chicken bundles onto eight 10-inch skewers along with the tomatoes. Grill the kebabs, covered, turning occasionally, until the prosciutto is crisp and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Get crazy and experiment with any combination of proteins and veggies you’d like! Beef, pork, and sturdier seafood like shrimp also work well.
Watermelon is another classic picnic food that’s easy to dress up. Try tossing sliced watermelon, tomatoes, and strawberries in a balsamic vinaigrette for a fresh and colorful salad (unfortunately this would require some plastic ware) or topping grilled halloumi cheese with marinated watermelon slices for the perfect finger food. We’d also like to present the ever-popular option of turning your watermelon into a tasty margarita.
Speaking of drinks, picnics call for something light and refreshing to complement the hot sun and delicious food. Most parks don’t allow for glass of any kind, so it’s a great idea to buy a few large plastic pitchers to fill up prior to heading out. Just don’t forget the plastic cups! Need some drink inspiration? Cash in on the last of peach season with this fruity cocktail:
Peach Fizz | Serves 4
Combined 6 roughly chopped peeled peaches (about 5 cups), one 6-oz can frozen lemonade concentrate, ¼ cup gin, and ½ cup ice in a blender. Blend until smooth (in batches, if necessary).
If you’d rather keep things simple and give guests the freedom of choice, try packing plastic mason jars filled with ice and a shot of your favorite vodka (it just goes with everything!) in your cooler. Then take along a selection of different mixers and let your picnic goers choose their favorite to add to the vodka. The mason jar lids make for easy mixing – just pour, seal, and shake!
So don’t be deterred by back to school ads or fall fashion popping up in the stores – summer isn’t officially over until September 22nd . Pack up some food and drink and go soak up the sun!