Picnic C'est Chic


Golly gosh it is hot!! My poor old English gene's don't know how to cope in this Mediterranean heat wave we are having over here. Still, I mustn't complain, instead I am trying to adopt a more European laissez-faire attitude to cooking (and life/the heat?) i.e. anything that requires more than half an hour in my sweat box kitchen is a complete no go. And don't even talk to me about putting the oven on!


Picnics (and BBQ's) are therefore my absolute dream. Not only do you get to eat outside but you can also get away (mostly) with serving up a plate of lovely things from the market/ deli/ supermarket, perhaps with one or two home made salads on the side to jazz it up a little bit (and, of course, making sure that you don't look like you haven't made any effort!) 


Reflecting my adoption of this super laid back style of "cooking" this post is also just about assembling a few ingredients to make some deliciously simple salads. In no particular order here are my current favourite "recipes"/combinations for this balmy weather;


Crunchy raw vegetable salads are a dream, making the most of wonderful veggies and taking almost no time or effort to prepare. A mandoline or food processor makes things even easier. Any, or all of these, keep relatively well for a couple of hours once dressed and so should travel quite well.

Courgette, Broad Bean and Mozzarella


Thinly slice some courgettes into rounds on a mandoline, or as thinly as you can with a knife, blanch some broad beans for 30 seconds and slip their white skins off, mix together with some frozen peas (they will defrost soon enough in the heat), and any other green veggies you might like (mangetout, green beans etc.). For the dressing mix together 1 part lemon juice, 2 parts olive oil, a scrap of garlic and plenty of seasoning and pour over the veggies. Top with some torn mozzarella if you like.

Fennel, Parmesan and Almond (inspired by Polpo) 


Thinly slice the fennel on a mandoline, mix together with the same dressing as a above, top with shavings of Parmesan and some toasted flaked (or whole) almonds.

Sweetcorn Salsa 


Mix together a small tin of drained sweetcorn (or fresh) with some halved cherry tomatoes, a couple of sliced spring onions, lots of chopped coriander. Add a squeeze of lime juice and a splash of your favourite hot sauce with plenty of seasoning.

Super Simple Spicy Coleslaw 


Grate some carrots in a food processor, slice half a red cabbage as thinly as possible (use a mandoline if you have one) along with a small red onion. Mix together with lemon juice, smoked Chipotle Tabasco and season.

A few other favourite picnic ideas - 

  • Salami/hams and cheese - you can't go wrong with these along with some pickle/chutney and fresh crunchy French bread
  • Fresh figs - ditto goes wonderfully with a combination of the above
  • Quails eggs with celery salt - these are a nightmare to peel (try using a small teaspoon under the shell) but they are so worth it
  • Radishes with butter and salt - the ultimate no-cook combination