Winter. It’s that time of year when we often find ourselves hibernating indoors, cozying up beside a warm fireplace while trying to find motivation to venture out into the cold. A winter picnic is the perfect reason to emerge from that cozy spot! With a little planning, an afternoon retreat to dine with loved ones alfresco can be a wonderful way to spend a refreshingly crisp winter day!
Often picnics are thought of as a cooler full of cold drinks and food spread out under the summer sun on a hot day. But picnics can also be mugs of hot chocolate or warm soup enjoyed wrapped in a warm blanket amid the still solitude of a snowy day. Whether it’s a quiet and cozy meal for two or a family fuel-up, food always tastes better outdoors in the brisk, clean air!
Winter picnics are exciting but rarely spontaneous. Intentional packing and meal planning for warmth and weather is essential. To make the most of your day and to lighten your workload, pack the picnic necessities and prepare most of your food items at least a day ahead. Try out these prep-forward and picnic-worthy hot and cold recipes that may be the perfect fit for your next winter picnic basket!
Remember, winter brings wide-open picnic tables and empty parks and beaches. Take advantage: you have a front row seat, so find your perfect spot and enjoy!
Each salad component is unique and distinct in flavour—from fennel’s hint of licorice to tart and fruity pear, peppery arugula, and smooth, salty blue cheese—it’s all brought together with a sweet and tangy citrus dressing. Elegant in appearance yet simple to create, this light and fresh salad is great for any occasion or as a perfect side for a winter picnic. Try adding chopped walnuts or pecans for another layer of crunch!
Luscious figs loaded onto hearty flatbread make a satisfying breakfast or brunch. They’re sweet and delicious when paired with savoury cinnamon-flavoured crunchy pumpkin seeds and tart goat cheese. And, with a dough enriched with whole wheat flour, hempseeds, and nigella, these flatbreads are sure to be satisfying. They’re also chock full of fibre and protein, and with 6 mg of iron, you’ll be on your way to 31 percent of the recommended daily value. A freezer favourite By making dough in advance and freezing, you can make these individual flatbreads part of your routine for days when you don’t have much time. Simply portion dough individually right after mixing, allow it to rise in the fridge for 8 to 10 hours, and then freeze in individual containers. To thaw an individual ball of dough, 24 hours before you wish to use it, remove the container from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. At least an hour before baking, allow dough to come up to room temperature outside of the fridge.
Select the ripest figs you can find to add gorgeous sweetness to this hearty salad, which is just as useful for a family dinner as a workday lunch. Carrots and chickpeas are dressed in a savoury tahini yogurt dressing with Middle Eastern-inspired flavours. A little goes a long way with this fibre- and protein-packed salad, which keeps well in the fridge. Fall favourite Did you know that some varieties of figs have two seasons? They enjoy a brief, early season at the beginning of June and a second season from August to October. Fall figs tend to be sweeter and grow on the new wood of trees.
The apple in these turkey meatballs might not be immediately visible, but it’s working behind the scenes to help bind them together and adds sweet flavour and juiciness. Chinese five-spice powder—a blend of star anise, ground fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon—lends lively flavour, alongside ginger and garlic. Packed full of protein, these meaty bites are a good source of vitamin D and iron and make for a tasty party appetizer. Meatball magic Handle with care A light touch is the key to a well-formed, juicy meatball. Using a tablespoon measure or cookie scoop, spoon heaping tablespoons into individual meatballs and toss them back and forth between your hands a few times, very gently, to round them off. Avoid squeezing or compressing the meat. Make ahead You can form meatballs 4 hours in advance and refrigerate before cooking. Lay meatballs in a single layer on parchment in glass dish; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Remove meatballs from refrigerator about 30 minutes before you begin to cook to allow them to come to room temperature. This will ensure they cook evenly. Blot any excess moisture before adding to the hot pan. Turning with this trick When browning meatballs, use a cookie scoop to nudge and turn the meatball. If it loses its round shape, use the scoop to gently re-form.
Fall root vegetables such as parsnips or celeriac make a delicious combination with the autumn season’s arguably biggest star—the apple. Choose a tart apple like Granny Smith or a sweet-tart apple like Pink Lady for this silky soup thickened up with a cashew cream to deliver not only a winning texture but a healthy dose of dietary fibre and some added protein. Tarragon is a supporting actor in this play, working nicely with the apples in a bright, tasty oil as garnish. Terrific with tarragon Bring this dish to the next level by making an elegant tarragon oil to drizzle over the soup. Place 1/3 cup (80 mL) tarragon leaves in fine sieve. Fill a bowl large enough to accommodate sieve with ice water and set aside. Plunge sieve into pot of boiling water, drenching tarragon for about 30 seconds. Remove sieve and plunge it into the ice water and leave for a minute or so. Drain and transfer tarragon to clean kitchen towel. Squeeze out all the water and place tarragon in food processor with 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil. Blend for about a minute and then strain oil through clean fine sieve into jar. Use at room temperature and refrigerate when not using.