A picnic is an event. More than just a portable lunch that you'd take to work or school, the word conjures up images of lazy feasts under shady trees and summer repasts on sunny beaches. Simultaneously casual and festive, a picnic is about good company, good food, and the open air.
And no fussiness. In that spirit, every recipe in this menu for eight can be eaten without utensils or plates, keeping packing light and trash to a minimum. Just gather some friends, choose a spot, and dig into these delicious family-style treats.
A Smooth Start
If your destination has picnic tables, covering them with cloths will provide a clean, pretty surface on which to spread out the food. If you'll be sitting on the ground, bring along a couple of blankets. Worried about wet grass? Try putting down a tarp, then layering your blankets over it. For extra comfort, waterproof cushions, such as those that go on outdoor furniture, make great seats.
You'll want to pack a bag or hamper with the nonperishables, cups, and plenty of napkins, and a nice addition would be wet paper towels for cleaning up messy fingers after the meal. If you're bringing wine, don't forget the bottle opener. Two medium-sized coolers should hold all the perishables, and it's a good idea to take along some large plastic bags for dirty cups and trash, in case you can't find a receptacle. Specific packing tips for each dish are included in the recipes.
Strawberry Lemonade Spritzers
To make 16 (10-ounce) cups of this nonalcoholic refresher, dice 1 quart (1 pound) of strawberries and toss them in a medium container with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Cover the mixture and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. When you're ready to go, stow the strawberries in the cooler along with a half gallon of chilled lemonade, a liter of chilled club soda, and plenty of ice cubes. At the picnic site, fill cups with ice and add to each: 1/2 cup lemonade, 1/4 cup club soda, and 2 tablespoons of the strawberry mixture. Stir and enjoy.
Recipe suggestions:Text and recipes by Tracey Seaman; photo and food styling by Zoe Singer
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