By Anna Cohen, Contributing blogger
The weather’s warmer and the days are longer, so you know what that means: picnic season is finally here! Outdoors meals on your favorite checkered blanket are an easy-breezy way to share a meal with your crew.
The biggest challenge is knowing which yummy foods to pack. You’ll want something that’s easy to carry, doesn’t require on-site prep, and won’t spoil outdoors. And sure, you could make sandwiches and bring a bag of your fave salty chips - again.
But this summer, how about taking things up a notch? Bring one of these delicious - and healthy - foods on your next picnic!
Strawberry Balsamic Salad
The sweet-tart flavor of ripe strawberries makes them the ideal companion to any picnic. And if you’ve never paired them with balsamic vinegar before, you’re in for a treat. This duo is quite popular in Italian desserts - and we can all agree that Italians know their sweets!
For the salad:
- 2 cups ripe strawberries
- 8 cups mixed salad greens (spinach is a great option!)
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
- Fresh ground black pepper
For the balsamic vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons locally-sourced honey
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Wash and slice the strawberries.
- Wash and dry the salad greens. Rip (don’t cut) large leaves.
- Thinly slice red onion.
- Toss the above with almonds and feta cheese crumbles.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and salt.
- Gradually whisk in olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a creamy consistency.
- Transfer vinaigrette to a cruet or salad dressing shaker.
- Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over the salad when you’re ready to serve.
Caprese Fruit Skewers
Skewers make nibbling easy when you’re on the go. The sweet fruit is the perfect contrast to the saltiness of the prosciutto.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a melon baller, a small ice cream scoop will do the trick.
- I small cantaloupe, scooped into balls
- I small honeydew melon, scooped into balls
- I small seedless watermelon, scooped into balls
- 20 fresh mozzarella balls
- 10 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
- Fresh basil
- Your favorite vinaigrette
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Skewer an assortment of ingredients, alternating flavors.
- Drizzle with vinaigrette and add salt and pepper to taste.
Crunchy, sweet, salty, and good for you? What’s not to love about carrot chips? This easy-to-make recipe is delicious - and a much healthier version that picnic classic: potato chips.
- 2 pounds of carrots (the fattest ones you can find!)
- 1/4 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a sharp knife or mandolin slicer, slice the carrots paper-thin on a diagonal angle to get elongated slices.
- Place the carrot slices in a large bowl and toss with oil and salt.
- Lay carrot slices in a single layer on the baking sheets.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes. When the edges start to curl up, flip and bake for another 5-8 minutes.
Nutty Chicken Satay Strips
Cold chicken is a picnic staple. And this peanut sauce is so tasty that even the kids will love them. As an added bonus, you can make these up to two days in advance (just hide them in the fridge, or they’ll disappear!).
- 2 tablespoons of chunky peanut butter
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
- A few shakes of soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 pound of skinless chicken breasts, cut into thick strips
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Mix all ingredients (minus the chicken) in a bowl.
- Add chicken strips and coat well. Allow to marinade for at least two hours.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until fully cooked but still juicy.
Mason Jar Berry Parfaits
The best way to end a picnic? With something sweet, of course! These grab-and-go parfaits are the best of both worlds: healthy and easy to make. And if you use frozen fruits, they’ll stay cool even while you play cornhole.
- Fresh or frozen berries
- Greek yogurt
- Granola (low sugar)
- Layer yogurt, fruit, and granola in a mason jar.
- Repeat until the jar is filled.
- Drizzle with honey or top with dark chocolate chips for a little added sweetness.