Could there be anything more tempting on a day like today than getting away from it all with a basket of goodies, enjoying the summer in the great outdoors? The summer picnic is a great British tradition, but forget soggy sandwiches and melted chocolate bars – you can make the most fantastic, sumptuous summer picnics that will feel like a luxury feast with very little effort.
Drinks for picnics
In this kind of heat you’re looking for something refreshing and easy to transport. Wares of Knutsford’s swing top bottles make it easy to store and transport cordials, punches and summer lemonades. They are practical and stylish, adding a touch of elegance to outdoor eating.
- 500g raspberries
- 500g caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Add all three ingredients to a large pan and heat gently, mashing the fruit until the mixture is syrupy and smooth. Push through a sieve to remove seeds and return to a clean saucepan. Scrape the pulp and seeds left behind in the sieve into a jug with 300ml of water, stir and pass through the sieve one more time, adding the liquid to the pan with the original mixture.
Stir well and bring to the boil for one minute. Pour the cordial into clean, sterilised swing top bottles and seal while still warm. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a few months and keep in the fridge once opened. Serve with still or sparkling water over plenty of ice.
Food for picnics
Grain based salads are the way to go for freshness and for health. They can be stored in lidded plastic boxes or in clip top jars if you are trying to set an upmarket style summer picnic.
Quinoa is the trendy grain of the moment and maintains its texture well under pressure. Fry some quinoa and onions lightly and gradually some chicken or vegetable stock. Stir in some broad beans, lemon juice, fresh tarragon and grated pecorino or, for really full flavour, some cherry tomatoes halves, chopped red peppers and red onion, then splash in some white wine vinegar and chopped, fresh basil.
Alternatively there’s the ever reliable couscous, easily flavoured with some feta cheese, avocado, red onion, cucumber, lime juice, olive oil and chopped fresh coriander. Add sweetness and crunch with a topping of pomegranate seeds.
Most grains soak up the juices from roast vegetables gratefully, so make sure you always have some tomatoes, red peppers and onions and some garlic available to add to grains to make an instant picnic favourite.