What better way to round up our two-week long picnic celebration than picking out our favorite picnic essentials. We love to serve cocktails in ball jars with paper straws and desserts in weck jars. Also, striped butcher twine comes in handy when packaging sandwiches. Last but not least, don’t forget about packing some outdoor games!
I’m a bit obsessed with pickled vegetables. Pickling transforms the simple nature of raw vegetables into something more complex that goes perfect as a side or on their own as a snack. Based in San Francisco, Emmy’s makes a variety of organic and locally sourced artisan pickles and preserves. I first fell in love with Emmy’s fruit jams, but when I recently tried their pickled vegetables I became obsessed. They make a variety of pickles from bread and butter pickles to whole jalapeno and carrots that are available here. Their turmeric cauliflower would go perfect in muffaletta sandwiches!
A pesto pasta salad is the perfect picnic dish but I always hate how after a couple hours the basil turns an unappealing brown-ish green. I’ve tried a few tricks at keeping pesto green, but the two that have worked best are 1) tossing room temperature pasta with the pesto and 2) adding spinach in the pesto. A handful of spinach keeps the pesto vibrant and green but does not detract from the basil flavor. In fact, I doubt anyone can tell there is spinach in the recipe! I added peas because fresh peas seem to be everywhere lately and I love the combination of orecchiette and peas. The dill and mint add even more freshness and brightness to the pasta. Finally, I add one of my favorite cheeses, French feta, which is creamier and milder than Greek feta.
- 1 cup of basil, packed
- 1/2 cup of spinach, packed
- 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Place the garlic clove in a food processor and mince garlic.
- Add the spinach and basil and pine nuts and pulse several times.
- Stream in the oil while leaving the food processor on until it blends into a smooth pesto.
- Toss onto cooled cooked pasta.
No picnic is complete without refreshments, and nothing is more refreshing than an ice-cold cucumber lemon drop. I enjoy making this drink for events because the flavors are simple, clean, and appeal to most. I made a large batch for my wedding, which happened to be in the 90 degree heat, and they were a hit. But the best part about this particular recipe is that the cocktails are served in cute little mason jars, making them easy to make ahead of time before transporting to your picnic. Once you’re ready to serve, just pop the top, add ice and shake. Each individual mason jar acts as a personal shaker, adding a little fun to your picnic that people love.
For the cocktail
For the cucumber water
- Cut each cucumber slice in half and place into a glass container with water. Let soak for 1-3 hours, then strain.
For the cucumber syrup
- Cut each cucumber slice in half.
- Add sugar and water to a small saucepan and stir on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, add cucumber slices, reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes
- After 2 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes to continue to soak a bit before straining.
For the cocktail
- Simply add all of your cocktail ingredients to a mason jar and seal.
- Each jar holds one full cocktail, so pack as many as you need for your party into your picnic basket or cooler. Speaking of coolers, remember to bring ice. You'll need it for the final cocktail.
- Once you arrive at your picnic and are ready to drink your cocktail, simply remove the top of the mason jar and fill to the top with ice. Screw the top on tight and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Once shaken, remove the top, add a straw and a thin slice of cucumber for garnish.
NOTESThis recipe makes enough cucumber water and syrup for a few cocktails, though the cocktail recipe is written for one cocktail. It is an easy recipe to multiply for more, if desired.
(images by HonestlyYUM)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 slices of cucumber
- Peel a cucumber and cut six 1/2-inch slices. Cut slices in half. Set aside.
- Add sugar and water to a small saucepan and stir on medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Add cucumber slices, reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes to continue to soak.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove cucumber. Store in refrigerator.
(image by HonestlyYUM)