Cold food on a hot day is quintessentially refreshing. And for picnics, a mix of cold dishes coupled with searing barbecued foods make for outdoor dining perfection. First things first, though: packing a portable meal requires a bit of planning and organization. But once you get your picnic tote organized, packing up for your next foray to the countryside or beach will be a breeze. By keeping a tub handy with the essential tools, you can pull a picnic basket together in no time. In our feature this month, we’ve compiled a delicious picnic menu with just a little preparation required. From a make-ahead savoury gazpacho that’s perfect for sipping to a cool couscous salad, you’ll have the perfect combo to start your meadow menu. An easy-to-make-ahead side, the roasted marinated vegetables dish ticks all the boxes with fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, and olives. It’s an umami medley to complement delicious grilled prawns, chicken, or beef. Settle into the late afternoon or early evening with the gluten-free olive oil cake and a tumbling of berry salsa. Serve it with a frosty Bellini whipped to perfection and frozen in individual glasses sealed with lids for perfect picnic portability.
Nothing can spoil a picnic faster than food gone bad. Furthermore, spoiled food is not always detectable, and the ill effects can show up a day or two later—so long, lovely picnic memories. The following are a few tips to keep everyone well and your picnic positively memorable.
Be sure to keep cold food cold.
Store it in your cooler at 40 F (5 C). Frozen gel packs, ice, and even frozen foods in closed containers will do the trick.
Pack beverages in a separate cooler.
This way, reaching for steady refills won’t affect perishable foods.
Store raw products in tightly closed containers.
You don’t want raw meat or seafood contaminating other foods.
Make sure your tables, grill, and hands are clean.
If unsure about clean running water, bring a jug with soapy water and paper towels.
Marinate foods in refrigerator, never at the picnic site.
And never reuse marinade or containers that previously held raw food.
Keep cold foods cold, hot foods hot:
Irene McGuinness is a passionate food writer, editor, and food stylist living on a small farm outside of Vancouver. When not writing, she is nurturing animals and tending to her extensive garden. Her work appears in a variety of Canadian, US, and Australian magazines.