Plan Your Best Picnic

Olives Make Picnic Food Good to GoWhen the weather’s right, there’s nothing better than chowing down in your natural surroundings. Of course, everything tastes better in the fresh air (especially after a small hike or walk in the woods), but if you start with well picked dishes you can elevate your meal to the next level and we’ve got some ideas that will turn your picnic blanket into the hottest ticket in town. Try one, try all...just get out and enjoy the summer while it lasts!

Amp up your sandwiches: Consider cooking or dressing vegetables in vinaigrettes to create flavorful sandwich fillings that add unexpected seasoning and a pleasant bite to your old favorites. Caramelized onions are terrific on ham,tapenade tastes great with turkey and roasted peppers pair perfectly with sliced chicken on ciabatta. Just make sure to pack each part separately and assemble sandwiches on site.

Bring your own blend: Fresh chilled soups are perfect picnic fare. No need for a thermal container, simply pack in an airtight plastic juice bottle over plenty of ice. I’m not just talking gazpacho. Chill this Carrot Olive Soup and you’ll see how this refreshing new idea works for you.

Cook as you go: Avoid carrying naked cut fruits and vegetables that oxidize (turn brown) in time. While it is a natural reaction that doesn’t always affect the taste, it’s not exactly appetizing. This is a perfect excuse to marinate. Toss your cut fruits and veg in something that gives them a little spark. Raw carrots, green beans and broccoli are o.k. on their own, but when they soak up a well-balanced vinaigrette they tenderize and burst with flavor like you wouldn’t believe. (Yes, you may also want try this at home!) Marinate our favorite little fruit, the California Ripe Olive!

Chill out: Many of your favorite entrees, like pastas and grilled meats are absolutely delicious cold or room temperature. Experiment with foods that you typical reserve for dinner, by making them in advance, then chilling and packing for your picnic. Keep these chilled entrees extra cold with plenty of blue ice and a thermal bag. Note however; when food is served cold, the flavors in the recipe subside. Make sure to keep a spare salt and pepper shaker on hand to season on site. Stash any extra marinade, vinaigrette or sauce in the basket as well and you’ll reap the benefits. Here's a recipe for Marinated Olive Chicken Salad sure to please the crowd.

Mix and match: Rather than assembling a large entree, consider supplying a few different types of breads, crackers, dips and spread. Slice breads on site so they don’t harden or get stale. Tapenade, Artichoke Party Dip and a couple of your favorite cheeses will provide multiple flavor combos with very little prep time. And let’s face it, when you’re out to enjoy the good weather, who needs a whole lot of extra work!