How to picnic in style this summer

Sick of sandwiches? Posh up your picnic with our ideas for ‘classic British’ and ‘Middle Eastern mezze’…

17 Aug 2020

With social distancing very much in force, one of the safest ways to socialise and soak up some sun is with a good old-fashioned picnic. But that doesn't have to mean soggy sandwiches and crumbled cake.

Here's how you can glam up your picnic...

 

The rise of the posh picnic

Whether you’re planning a day at the coast or an afternoon in the park, picnics are perfect. But why not leave the sausage rolls at home? Impress your mates with a more modern foodie approach.

Planning is key

Whether your picnic is spontaneous for a sunny day or planned weeks ahead, the first thing to decide on is your theme. This will help pull everything together and give you focus when trying to whittle down your menu.

 

Classic British

In a nutshell: Quintessentially British – an elegant hamper of dainty delights and traditional style

This is the kind of picnic made for those long summer afternoons in the countryside. If you love Downton Abbey and the afternoon teas served up at Betty's Tea Rooms in Yorkshire, this is your perfect picnic. For food, look to the hampers put together by Fortnum & Mason and independent delis and bakeries.

classic British picnic

Your menu should feature:

  • Dainty finger sandwiches with no crusts and fillings like Scottish smoked salmon and pesto chicken.
  • Old school Coronation chicken made with homemade mayonnaise.
  • Slices of homemade quiche with summery fillings like salmon and broccoli.
  • Scotch eggs using free range eggs and pork, and crisp breadcrumbs.
  • Summer potato salad with Jersey Royal spuds and homemade mayo.
  • Classic Victoria sponge cake or scones with jam and clotted cream.

 

Get the vintage picnic look

Set the scene with a traditional wicker hamper, vintage blue and white plates and silver cutlery ­– all spread across a tartan blanket. Don’t forget the ice bucket and champagne glasses!

 

Homemade is best

Homemade Scotch eggs are easy. Blitz your breadcrumbs in a food processor and batch fry in a deep-fryer for an even, golden crisp.

Whip up homemade mayonnaise in your stand mixer, and also use it to make dough for your pastry for your quiches and pies.

 

Mezze from Greece and the Middle East

In a nutshell: Colourful, aromatic and spicy – small plates for sharing and switching on your senses

Turkish, Greek and Lebanese Mezze has been a thing with foodies for a few years now, and it’s perfect for picnics – fuss-free finger food. Tapas-like small plates can be passed around. Bowls of chunky dips go great with warm pita. And spicy, grilled meats can be eaten with your fingers.

Meze picnic

Your menu should feature:

  • Bulgur salads with chopped veggies, pine nuts and fresh herbs.
  • Chicken skewers marinated in yoghurt and spices and griddled.
  • Homemade hummus ­– why not add red pepper or Moroccan spices?
  • Maneesh flatbread topped with herbs and sesame seeds.
  • Crispy Falafel served with a cool yoghurt dip.
  • Colourful couscous with pomegranate seeds and fresh chopped herbs.
  • Almond and orange cakes and then drizzled with syrupy citrus.

  • Keep everybody cool with iced mint tea from a jug.

 

Get the look

Go for a Marrakech cafe theme with huge blankets of burnt orange and gold detailing, and decorative plates with intricate patterns. Scatter cushions are a nice touch too. 

 

Homemade is best

Homemade hummus is easy with a food processor – just tinned chickpeas, olive oil, tahini and lemon juice. It's also a quick way of chopping up veg for salads.

 

Don’t forget to choose a good picnic spot

When deciding where you’re going, think about how far you’ll have to carry your picnic basket. Pick a lovely spot that’s manageable. That way it’s simple to go for a walk before or after, depending on whether you want to work up an appetite or walk off all that delicious food. If you travel by car you can load and unload easily.

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