Summer: Easy, delicious picnic ideas, from Cobb wraps to Caprese cups

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It feels great to be outside these days. It feels even better to eat outside, preferably on a blanket in the soft grass with a picnic basket containing your favorite summer-centric salads and sandwiches.

This summer’s picnics won’t be the large gatherings we typically associate with outdoor eating, where friends of friends huddle around your famous seven-layer dip, scooping seconds and thirds with abandon. Double-dipping is a no-go this summer.

But that doesn’t mean your family or social bubble can’t enjoy an amazing picnic at the park or beach. With a few inspiring recipes and serving suggestions from the experts — including editors at America’s Test Kitchen, whose recently-released “The Complete Summer Cookbook” is loaded with picnic favorites — you can be noshing in a sun-kissed park somewhere close to home.

The most important element of successful picnicking is that the food you make travel wells, says Julia Collin Davison, host of America’s Test Kitchen TV.

“You’re basically catering for yourself, so figure out what you need,” she says. “What will hold together? What is easy to carry? What can be made ahead?”

Cold or room-temp classics come to mind: Potato salad or Greek pasta salad  individually portioned in little plates or cups. Parchment-wrapped Dijon mustard pork sandwiches, perhaps, and camping-inspired s’mores brownies. Make-ahead fried or roast chicken is quintessential picnic fare, and ATK’s Green Goddess Roast Chicken has all the bright, herby summertime flavors we’re craving right now. Davison uses a nifty dressing-inspired marinade to create a well-seasoned, umami-laced bird.

Elements of Green Goddess dressing liven up weeknight roast chicken. (America’s Test Kitchen) 

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If, like Davison, you feel that picnics are inherently celebratory — an ode to summer, a birthday or the upcoming Labor Day holiday — then “it’s fun if some of the food feels special or partyish,” she says.

Cue these Mango Lobster Spring Rolls drizzled with Green Tea-Orange Sauce, or an Herb-Marinated Leg of Lamb, sliced and stuffed into sammies.

To keep that food cold, Davison uses ice-filled zip-style bags in her soft cooler bags. Lots of them. They serve a few purposes. “If you double bag the ice cubes, you can use them in your drinks and to wash the sanitizer residue off your hands before eating,” she says.

Her favorite hard-sided cooler? Just watch this Gear Heads episode from her colleagues at ATK, who recently chainsawed several to find out which $350 cooler had the best cold retention and why. Hint: It’s abominable.

Fill that cooler with containers of individual bites that are skewered or toothpicked and thus safe for COVID-era outdoor eating. Folsom private chef Sonya Keister, blogger at The Rustic Fork, transformed a favorite summer dish — Caprese salad — from family-style platter to compact individual servings.

For her Tomato Caprese Cups with Blackened Shrimp, Keister fills holllowed Campari tomatoes with marinated pearl mozzarella, homemade pesto and balsamic glaze. Then she …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News


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