Now that we’re allowed out for as long as we like in open spaces, there’s only one thing on our minds: picnics.

What is it about a picnic that makes it so extraordinarily joyful? It is a pleasure that is, perhaps, the more exaggerated thanks to our famously unreliable weather. We are so incredulous when we get a run of sunshine that lasts long enough to plan for meals taken outside, that by the time we get out there, we’re almost giddy with the excitement of it all. This year, of course, the easing of lockdown to allow us to spend more time in the great outdoors makes the pleasure of a picnic all the sweeter. Having been shut away in our homes for so many weeks, our appreciation for small, outdoor pleasures is, understandably, at an all-time high.

So we recommend you dig out your picnic basket and blanket, find a peaceful spot – the requisite distance from other people, of course – and enjoy an outdoor repast full of delights. To that end, we round up eight of our very favourites things to take on picnics, along with the recipes for making them. Enjoy!

Pea and Ham Picnic Eggs

BBC Good Food


What is a picnic without a Scotch egg? We will always opt for the miniature variety; one-bite morsels are the holy grail of the al fresco repast after all. We love this BBC Good Food twist on the classic, with pea and ham at the centre, making them light and summery. These will work all year round too: on picnics now, and as canapés later in the year.

Stuffed Focaccia

Olive Magazine


Another al fresco non-negotiable is the humble sandwich. And while you’ll never find us knocking the classic simple egg and cress (sacrilege), we do love a variation on a theme, and this one is a showstopper. Focaccia is, in our books, a king among breads, the olive oil ensuring that it is never dry, and the lovely crystals of salt giving it some bite. This recipe serves 10-12, and while large gatherings may be off the agenda right now, we’ll make this to last over a couple of days. Antipasti and mozzarella within a large focaccia for all the family – how could we resist? Plus, it saves wrapping up individual sandwiches; this one should be packaged up as a whole and then cut up on the picnic.

Persian Chicken With Spiced Yogurt

Delicious


If you are planning a picnic ahead, rather than just throwing a sandwich and some strawberries in a bag on a whim, this fragrant, spicy and slightly sweet recipe makes a lovely, summery addition. Super simple to whip up, chicken legs make excellent picnic food, being ideal for eating with your fingers, Henry VIII style. Light and zingy, just put your yogurt sauce in a jam jar and away you go. The conscientious will also pack flat-leaf parsley to scatter on top, but it’s still delicious without.

Summer ‘Peasto’ Frittata

Jamie Oliver


Asparagus, peas, mint and feta: are there many more flavour combinations more redolent of summer? We adore this very-quick-to-make frittata courtesy of Jamie Oliver, flavoured with a light pea pesto. We’ll be making it all summer, for lunches indoor and out. Packed full of flavour and goodness, this is set to become one of our summer staples.

Gammon and Egg Gala Pie

Great British Chefs

This is one for those who either really love spending time at the stove or who really want to impress on their picnic. But Gala Pie is a real outdoor feasting classic, so if you have it in you – as well as some three hours to spare – it’s worth it. This recipe comes courtesy of Karen Burns-Booth, and is made with gammon and fresh free-range eggs, ‘beautifully seasoned and encased in a crisp, golden hot water pastry case’. If you find it’s a winner, you can crack out this recipe throughout the year too, for Christmas, Easter, family get-togethers, and even for lunch boxes. Who couldn’t fall for that lovely egg centre?


Easy Summer Pizza

Waitrose


Who says pizza has to be unhealthy? We absolutely love how green this rendition is. A healthy yet tasty quintet of toppings – ricotta, basil, courgettes, chilli and basil – make it an ideal thing to knock up and then devour in a slice-tearing kind of way on a summer’s day. If it is devoured in a lovely pastoral setting, well, all the better.

Sausage Rolls

The Spruce Eats


Sausage rolls are a picnic classic for a reason. They are bite-sized, they can be easily pre-prepared and they travel well. And sure, you can pick up often very nice sausage rolls at your local shop, but there is undeniably something that elevates them when they’re homemade – not least the sense of satisfaction. If you’re in the market to try your hand at them, this recipe is great, and takes under an hour to prepare and cook. Quick, easy, delicious: the holy trinity of picnic fare.


Homemade lemonade

Delia Online


As Delia, doyenne of British food, says: there really isn’t anything quite like homemade lemonade. All you need is six fresh lemons, water and some granulated sugar, though do note you’ll need to make it the night before, so don’t attempt this one ten minutes before you head out on your picnic. There is, of course, the other way of lubricating your picnic, which is with a lovely bottle of chilled white or rosé wine, but even if you’re going that route, we suggest packing some of this stuff too to keep hydrated in the sun.

By Nancy Alsop
June 2020

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Nancy Alsop

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