Pack the perfect picnic
Whether it’s a laid-back lunch or a special family meal, we can help you dine outside in style…
Picnics haven’t always been everyone’s cup of tea but how times have changed. Suddenly alfresco dining is looking like the solution for every event on the social calendar – the birthday brunch, the baby shower, the romantic date or even just a welcome change of scenery for the family lunch. And even a little rain won’t deter us. Pack a brolly and a blanket and gather on the green…
Time to lounge
Looking to linger for longer? You'll need a lounger. A comfortable seat will handle all terrain keeping the ants out of your pants and sand out of your sandwiches. Coordinate your colours or mix and match your styles for a fun approach. We’re predicting that the deckchair will be one of the hottest accessories this summer. If you need to give yours a mini makeover, then shop for a new sling to update your old frame.
A stylish blanket or rug should accompany any great spread. Go for a lightweight roll with its own carry handle if you're on foot. Just a short hop from the car? Indulge in a more luxe experience by taking along cushions for lounging, outdoor games to play, a folding table or even a pop-up shelter to protect against the elements.
Pack a capsure collection
Treat yourself to a dedicated bag or basket that’s permanently stocked with a few essentials and you'll be good to go at the drop of a hat. Food on the move can be a matter of how much you're willing to lug so think of this bag as the pared down basics: a blanket, paper towels, a couple of bags for food waste and recycling, basic seasoning such as a little salt and pepper, sunglasses and don’t forget the bug deterrent and sunscreen. A small camping light and a lightweight shawl are also handy if think you'll be out past dusk.
Pack plenty of plates, cutlery and food wraps for your outdoor feast and, if possible, assign each family members a different colour. Who needs squabbles over whose is whose on a lovely laid-back day? Use serving boards for a more relaxed vibe, with napkins in place of plates, keeping the weight of your picnic basket down.
Being out and about on a hot day is bound to affect hydration levels so be ready with plenty of liquids. Reusable plastic bottles are the lightest to carry and look for space-saving picnic glasses that stack, adding covers to keep the bugs at bay.
Soft drinks can be semi-frozen in advance to keep them chilled but also to cut down on the number of ice blocks in your cool bag/box. Celebrating with a glass of something stronger? Make a waiter’s friend incorporating a bottle opener and a corkscrew part of your standard kit, while a tray will help keep things stable on uneven ground.
Think outside the box
Leave the sandwiches at home and be a bit more adventurous on your rest day. Conjure up a little holiday sunshine with antipasti or a delicious frittata. Or get all nostalgic with old-school favourites such as sausage rolls and a scotch egg.
Choose recipes that can go into reusable tubs or items such as tarts and salads that need minimal wrapping, and store then all in a cooler box until ready to use. Jars make excellent inidvidual salad pots. An extra box with a damp soapy cloth will clean up sticky hands in seconds and is handy for giving boards and plates a quick wipe down before heading home.
Pack up a Jersey royal, brie & asparagus frittata
Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes, plus cooling
300g Waitrose & Partners Jersey Royal New Potatoes
5 tsp olive oil
230g pack asparagus, trimmed and halved widthways
6 British Blacktail Medium Free Range eggs
1 onion, sliced
½ x 230g pack Somerset brie, sliced
1. In a large pan, cover the potatoes with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Fry the asparagus for 5 minutes, tossing regularly until charred, then set aside. In a large bowl, season the eggs and beat together with a fork.
2. Heat another 2 tsp oil in the frying pan and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rinse under cold water before cutting into 3mm slices. Add them to the pan with the onions, season and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden. Set aside.
3. Heat the remaining 2 tsp oil in a 20cm non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Stir the veg into the eggs, then tip ½ of the mixture into the pan, swirling so it sets on the base. Lay the brie on top, pour over the remaining egg mix, cover with a baking sheet and cook over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
4. Remove the sheet and place a plate over the pan. Carefully invert the pan so the frittata turns out onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan so the uncooked side is on the base. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Cool then chill before packing for your picnic.
Cook's tip: Use delicious Jersey royals when in season, but replace them with any little waxy salad potato in summer.