Sharing food outside with friends feels like such a treat right now, whether that’s at the park, by the sea or in your garden.
Since the rule of six has been announced, swathes of people have been packing up picnics and getting outside come rain or shine. There is something very British about picnicking when it's grey and a little chilly - refusing to let bad weather dampen our springtime spirit. We even had a (very short) picnic in the snow last week!
Although the weather can be a bit of a picnic-pooper, in our opinion, there is nothing worse than squashed sarnies! So we’ve pulled together some tips for top picnic equipment that mean you can pack at home and graze later.
Picnic equipment - it can make or break any outdoor dining event!
- The main piece of picnic advice we give anyone is that tin foil is not strong enough to protect a sandwich! By getting yourself a sturdy lunch box you’re not only making sure your food transports better but also saving on loads of single-use plastic and tin foil. Opt for one with a removable divider for flexibility - you can also eat straight out of them, so no need for additional plates.
- If you do need to wrap anything, use a beeswax wrap- an eco & long lasting alternative to cling film.
- Sporks are a perfect picnic partner. We’ve been to so many picnics where we’ve had no sharp knife to chop cheese or have had to scoop salad with a piece of cucumber. Ditch the single-use cutlery for these handy all-in-one reusable tools.
- Plastic glasses work fine but they can end up splitting and cracking in your bag before you reach the park. A good alternative is a stainless steel cup- so much more sturdy - you can throw them in your bag when it's time to leave with no fear of breakages.
- If we bring plates and bowls, we’ve started wrapping them in tea towels - it protects them and also gives you something to use to mop up an inevitable spillage! Or you can always use your lunchbox lids as a handy plate.
The thing about picnic food is that very often if you buy it from the supermarket, it will all come in a huge amount of plastic packaging. Yes, going homemade is a little more effort but for a huge reward - tastier, often healthier and with less waste. Here are a few plant-based recipe ideas that you can prep at home and graze at your chosen location...
8 easy picnic recipes that you can whip up at short notice
NACHOS - Vegetarian or vegan
Melty cheese and tortilla chips! Come on!Melt the cheese on the chips at home andthen get dipping on your picnic.
Get a baking tray or your Elephant Box. Layer tortilla chips and grated cheddar and put in the oven at 150* for 10mins or so until the cheese is melted. Allow to cool then put in a container to take with you. Or, if you've used your Elephant Box just put the lid on! Swap for vegan cheese if you want to make this plant-based.
To go with the tortilla chips...
TOMATO SALSA - Vegan
Chop some ripe tomatoes and add a small amount of very finely chopped red onion (or some finely chopped spring onion), a finely chopped chilli, chopped parsley and coriander, some lime juice and just a pinch of salt and pepper.
GUACAMOLE - Vegan
Mash up some avocado with a small amount of finely chopped red onion, chilli, chopped coriander, salt, pepper and as much lemon juice as you like. The lemon juice will stop the guacamole from going brown so the more the merrier.
MEXICAN CORN SALAD - Vegetarian
Get some sweet corn (on the cob, canned or frozen - up to you). If it's on the cob, cut the corn off and cook them.
Put however much corn you'd like into a bowl and mix with mayonnaise, lime juice, pinch of chilli, black pepper and some feta cheese.
Taste to see if it needs more salt. Add some fresh chopped coriander if you like.
How about some flat bread with different fillings...
BBQ JACKFRUIT - Vegan
1 red onion - finely sliced
1 red pepper - finely sliced
1 green chili - finely chopped
3 cloves garlic - crushed and chopped
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tin green jackfruit - rinsed
3 tsp sweet paprika
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp gr coriander
1 tsp stock powder
1/2 tsp salt
good pinch of black pepper
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Put a frying pan on a low heat with a couple of big glugs of olive oil in it.
Add the onion, red pepper, chilli, garlic and cumin seeds.
Saute for at least 15mins, stirring often until it's all nicely caramelised.
Add the spices, stock, salt, pepper and the jackfruit. Shred the jackfruit and give it all a good stir. Then cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the passata and the pomegranate molasses.
Turn the heat up until it's simmering then keep it on a medium heat for about 15mins stirring regularly. Cook until it's thick.
Taste and adjust seasoning. You might want more smoked paprika (but go easy) or molasses.
Roll the jackfruit up in a wrap or put it on a flatbread, with any or all of these things -
Guacamole, coleslaw, grated cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce and/or sour cream.
Another great filling is roasted peppers and aubergine with homemade hummus (and shredded iceberg)...
HUMMUS - Vegan
Drain a can of chickpeas.
Put it in a bowl with a big glug of olive oil, a clove of garlic, juice of 1 lemon, pepper and a tsp of stock powder.
Blend it all together with a stick blender, adding a little water if you need to in order to make the consistency that you want. Give it a taste and add salt if it's needed.
SALSA VERDE - Vegan
Also good for dipping the wedges in or try it in the flatbread with roasted aubergine, pepper and hummus.
Blend up equal amounts of fresh parsley and basil and half the amount of mint with the zest and juice of a lemon, a small garlic clove and a tablespoon of capers. It's best to start with lesser amounts of lemon and capers and taste and add as you go along (then you won't over caper!).
POTATO WEDGES - Vegan
Perfect for dipping in your hummus, guacamole or salsa.
Wedge up some potatoes.
Put them in a baking tray and drizzle over
some veg oil, shake the tray a bit to make
sure the wedges are covered in oil.
Sprinkle the wedges with salt, a little turmeric,a little coriander and a generous amount of paprika.
Shake the tray again then put them in the oven at 180* for half an hr or until they are nice and cooked and golden.
Shake the tray a third time half way through cooking.
If you’re looking for more inspiration - go check out our previous blog 11Winter Salads - all good picnic material!