To me, picnics are an absolute treat, and it’s something I personally don’t do enough of. But now, seems to be the right time to fix that. Meeting friends outside or in the garden is now a thing, and looks to be that way at least until the cooler months (I’m saying that in July with the heating on).
So many of us enjoy eating outdoors, and what’s not to love? Inhaling the smell of fresh air, as your legs are stretched out over the blanket. Leaning back on your forearms, closing your eyes and feeling the warm, dappled sun on your face, whilst listening to your friends talking, a gentle breeze that rustles through the trees, and a cork being popped. But the most wonderful thing is the food. When surrounded by nature, and the walls are down, the calming effect on us stretches to how we eat. We have time to taste every mouthful, smell the difference of what you eat when you’re outside, compared to wolfing something down whilst watching Game of Thrones. So I implore you to take this time to eat outside on a blanket, on your own, in the garden, it doesn’t matter really. Just enjoy the sheer simplicity of it.
I have been gathering up a few vegetarian picnic ideas, so let’s find a spot, throw down our blanket, open our hamper and indulge in some outdoorsy delights.
Before we do anything, whatever your summer tipple, drinks should be poured. There’s something about warm lazy days that screams Côtes de Provence rosé to me, but Champagne is equally welcome. The pre-mixed cocktail cans is an easy option also, and if a M&S Mojito good enough for Diane Abbott, then it is for us. A sparkling elderflower is a superb non-alcoholic option.
Transported in a thermous flask or Chilly bottle, this is a perfect light way to wet the appetite. I make mine the day before I eat it, to give the flavours time to infuse. I also like to roast the tomatoes, along with couple of peppers, red onion and garlic, for a slightly more intense and sweeter gazpacho. Once roasted and cooled, throw in some cucumber, a little white wine vinegar and seasoning, then blitz, and refrigerate.
One of my favourite picnic sandwiches was by my friend Paul, and I shall share this artistry with you. In-between to slices of focaccia, spread a little houmous, then add roasted, preserved peppers from a jar, a few baby spinach leaves and a crumbling of feta cheese. All the Mediterraneaness makes you feel that summer vibe even more.
I must admit, the infamous Greggs vegan sausage roll hasn’t passed these lips, but my easy homemade vegetarian ones have, by the truckload. To make 6 small sausage rolls, I mashed up 3 veggie sausage rolls with a fork, added half a slice of bread, a little seasoning, a pinch of cayenne pepper and mixed dried herbs. Then, using a hand-held blitzer, whizzed until a bit smooth. I grated half a small onion, pan-fried with olive oil, and mixed that in too. Roll the mixture using your hands to the size you’d like (mine was a little bigger than the original sausage size in width). Lay it on pre-rolled puff pastry and join the ends together and press down with a fork. Cut away excess pastry, and pop the roll into the fridge for 30-60 mins. Then slice with a sharp knife into 6 pieces (or 8 if you want smaller ones), and brush the top with milk or a beaten egg. Sprinkle on nigella seeds or sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for around 30 mins, until beautifully golden.
Mexican style cous-cous
A firm picnic favourite, but moving away from the usual Moroccan or Med inspired, I’ve got Mexican. To your cous-cous, add charred sweetcorn (just pop sweetcorn onto a hot dry pan and cook until blackened slightly), a handful of red kidney or black beans, and finely chopped peppers. Then add the seasoning, a sprinkle of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder/granules, onion powder, a small squidge of tomato puree, a squeeze of lime, and season with salt to taste.
Courgettes and Strawberries
Time to dig out that spiralizer you’ve used a grand total of once, and introduce it to a courgette. In the tumble of the courgetti, squeeze in some lemon juice, a little salt and heaps of black pepper. Then toss in some quartered strawberries and garnish with torn mint. Pure summer in a bowl.
I’m going full-on shop bought here, but who cares? Here are my fave things:
Those teeny weeny cold samosas and spring rolls you get during a work meeting lunch.
Small cheese selection
Spinach and feta triangles
And thus ends my top vegetarian picnic ideas. Thanks for coming along with me!