Lunch to Go: 6 Perfect Picnic Foods You Can Make in 10 Minutes

Spring is meant to be spent outside -- not in the kitchen slaving over the stove! Make your meal happen in minutes and enjoy this glorious time of year. Here are a few ideas that will liven up your outdoor meal (even if you don't get farther than your own backyard).

Why is this Antipasti Sandwich a total winner? Because it combines the all the bold flavors of an antipasto plate but in every single bite. Try our trick for DIY panini style: Put it at the bottom of your picnic basket and it will press flat.

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 red bell pepper
1 loaf crusty bread (about 1 pound), sliced in half lengthwise
1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound mortadella, prosciutto, or thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or sliced
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (1 ounce)
1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and halved if large

1. Sprinkle a double layer of paper towels with salt and place zucchini on top. Sprinkle with salt and roll up like a newspaper. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out excess liquid.

2. Over a low gas flame or under the broiler, roast bell pepper until skin is charred, 10 minutes, turning frequently. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit 10 minutes. Rub bell pepper with a paper towel to remove skin, then core, discard seeds, and slice flesh into strips.

3. Pull out about 2 cups bread from inside loaf halves. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, and oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Completely cover inside of both bread halves with an even layer of bean puree.

4. Arrange zucchini on bottom half of bread. Top with mortadella, parsley, roasted pepper, artichokes, Parmesan, and pepperoncini. Sandwich with top half of bread and wrap tightly in plastic. Place on a baking sheet in refrigerator. Place another baking sheet on top and weight with several heavy cans. Let sit at least 3 hours (or up to overnight). To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges with a serrated knife.

Related: Fast, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family

Pasta salads can be fickle (i.e. sometimes they're just awful). But this Tangy Pasta Salad with Spinach -- that showcases a zingy lemon-herb dressing and capers -- is just perfect.

3/4 pound cooled cooked short pasta, such as campanelle
3 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup capers, rinsed and chopped
6 tablespoons Lemon-Herb Dressing
Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss pasta with celery, spinach, capers, and dressing. Season with salt and pepper.

The last time we made this Strawberry Lemonade, it didn't last longer than 20 minutes (it's so refreshing!). Make a double batch and pack it to-go.

3/4 cup sugar
10 ounces strawberries
6 lemons, very thinly sliced
1 lime, very thinly sliced

1. In a large pot, combine sugar, strawberries, lemons and lime. Mash with a potato masher, 5 minutes. Stir in 6 cups water and let sit 30 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Serve over ice.

Related: Hands Down, The 20 Grilling Recipes You Must Try This Summer

The vegetables in this dish are really just a vehicle for scooping up this stellar Lemon-Thyme Dip. Pita chips would work well, too!

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon zest and 2 to 3 tablespoons juice)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with more thyme; serve with crudites, or cover and refrigerate, up to 3 days.

Is there anything prettier than this Watermelon, Orange, and Feta Salad? It doesn't hurt that it tastes like summer on a plate, either! Make it in advance -- the flavors will only get better.

1/4 of a small (6-pound) seedless watermelon, rind removed, flesh cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large orange, peel and pith removed, flesh cut into segments
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 ounces feta cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. On a serving platter, arrange watermelon, orange, red onion, feta cheese, and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Let kids in on the fun. Bake these Brownie Bites in advance and then punch them out when you're outside (just bring some hand sanitizer along!).

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar, colored sugar, cocoa, or crushed toffee bits, for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom, and press it onto the buttered surface. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. If the chocolate is not softened, continue to microwave at 10-second intervals, removing before it's completely melted.

2. Beat eggs and vanilla into the melted chocolate with a wooden spoon. Beat in flour and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool.

3. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn the brownie cake out onto a baking sheet, and flip over onto a work surface. Cut out the brownies with a 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Dust with cocoa if you like. Form the scraps into 1-inch balls, and roll them in the coating of your choice.

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