Is there any better way to spend a warm, sunny day than by enjoying an amazing al fresco meal with good company? I don’t know about you, but the last time I went on an actual gingham-blanket-and-bottle-of-wine picnic was… well, never. In our hustle-bustle, smartphone-happy world, taking the time to prep and pack up some homemade grub –not to mention sitting and enjoying it outside — has become somewhat of a lost art. I’m on a mission to bring it back, and fortunately, plenty of fresh twists on your typical PB&J and potato-chip fare have cropped up in recent years (thanks, Pinterest, you da best!). These delicious and easy make-ahead recipes will set the stage for a perfect picnic with friends, your family, or that special someone you’re dying to see in boat shoes, khakis and an oxford shirt.
Sparkling Fruit Slush
Take your smoothie to the next level with this super-quick concoction. All you need: a can of concentrate (lemonade, orange, or grape juice — the choice is yours), a bag of frozen strawberries, a cup of water and some ginger ale. Combine the juice concentrate and strawberries in a blender, pour the mixture into a container, stir in water, and freeze. Bring a bottle of ginger ale along in your picnic basket, and stir about a half-cup into each glass of your slush when you’re ready to enjoy for a fizzy, fruity treat. Add a dash of your favorite spirit for an added kick (just remember to drink responsibly).
Have some fun with this tried-and-true picnic staple by throwing in some interesting ingredients in with your greens (think: artichokes, roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms, or even fresh fruit) and letting the mixture sit for a few hours. Just make sure that you place the dressing on the bottom of the jar, and the lettuce on top, to avoid wilting. By the time you arrive at your picnic spot, all you have to do is let your salad loose into a bowl.
Who needs a boring Italian sub when you can pack some sourdough to the brim with meats, cheese, and olives? Simply grab the biggest, roundest loaf you can find at the bakery, slice the top off, and remove all of the bread in the middle (if you wish, you can cut the filling into chunks to eat along with your salad). Then, layer away with your favorite ingredients: salami, prosciutto, turkey, fresh mozzarella, olives, oil and vinegar, tomato, onions, or anything else your heart desires. Replace the top of the bread, place in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour. It couldn’t be easier to serve: simply slice as you would a pie.
Oreo Fluff Dip
It’s not a real picnic unless you have some sort of yummy dessert, and this one is totally crave-worthy. Combine a box of white chocolate instant pudding mix with two cups of milk, and then add an eight-ounce container of cool whip, 24 crushed Oreo cookies, and two cups of mini marshmallows. Refrigerate until you’re ready to indulge with the cookies of your choice — since the dip is so rich, try Nilla wafers or something equally light.