By Kate Krader, Food & Wine
Grilled Bread and Marinated Tomato Salad You might be a very successful picnicker, might never have experienced a picnic disaster. But my colleagues in the Food & Wine test kitchen have learned the hard way the best things not to pack for a picnic. Here are five of their top tips.
Slideshow: Best Picnic Recipes
Just say no to deviled eggs. They're a picnic staple, but Marcia Kiesel, F&W's test kitchen supervisor, says the best place to eat deviled eggs is in your air-conditioned home or at your favorite temperature-controlled restaurant. The best deviled eggs are messy and hard to pack and shouldn't be sitting on your picnic blanket in the sun for more than a fast few minutes.
Think sandwich alternatives. Of course there are great picnic sandwiches. But for every good one, there's one that gets completely flattened or soggy, or both. Grace Parisi, F&W's senior recipe developer has a brilliant idea: make bread salads instead. You can mix chunks of toasted bread with virtually any sandwich filling: meat, cheese, vegetables or tuna (perhaps draw the line at PB & J bread salad). And when bread salads get soggy, that's a good thing. Think of them as a much cooler alternative to pasta salad. (Pictured: Grilled Bread and Marinated Tomato Salad)
Improve on fried chicken. I know, fried chicken is pretty close to a perfect food. But for picnics you actually can make them better. F&W's test kitchen assistant Gina Mungiovi recommends bringing chicken nuggets. That's right, chicken nuggets. Here's what's great about good, homemade ones for picnics--you don't have to worry about any bones lying around the table. (Excess garbage at picnics = bad.)
Champagne is not a picnic wine. F&W's Kiesel likes to drink Champagne just about anywhere. Except at picnics. Champagne is best served well chilled which means you need to pack plenty of ice. And the bottles themselves are heavy; if your picnic is for more than two people, you better be strong if people are going to have more than a sip of Champagne. Plus Kiesel has the scars to show for an errant cork on a windy day. In fact, picnics are a great place to check out all the fab new boxed wines out there.
Picnics are not the place for your fancy margarita glasses. Here's another tip from Kiesel. You might have an amazing arsenal of cocktail glassware--you might even have a second set in plastic. But don't bring your wide, shallow margarita glasses to a picnic because as much as drinks tend to spill at parties, they spill extra at picnics. Those al fresco margaritas will be fine in regular glasses or plastic cups. This advice also applies to anyone who drinks martinis at picnics.
More from Food & Wine
More Fabulous Picnic Recipes
America's Best Parks for Picnics
Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.
Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.
Make-Ahead Picnic Salads
Food & Wine is on a mission to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and delicious food.
By Kate Krader, Food & Wine