shop and cook: picnic

Shop and Cook: Backyard Picnic

It’s officially summer, which means it’s high time to get outside and start enjoying those perfect weather days. And the perfect way to do so? Planning a picnic, of course.

Because the whole point of a picnic is to have a relaxing afternoon, keeping the food and drink simple is a necessary element. That’s why, when putting together our menu, we sprung for things that don’t need much prep but come together to make some scrumptious alfresco fare: red onion mascarpone tart, ciabatta slab sandwiches, limoncello mocktails and a store-bought cake refresh.

Here’s everything you need to make it all and plan an idyllic backyard picnic this summer.

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Prep and Cook

Limoncello Mocktails

These refreshing lemony spritzes are ideal for picnicking and easily transportable. First, make the lemon syrup by measuring out your sugar with the following rule of thumb: 3 tablespoons of sugar to one lemon. To make two drinks, we used two lemons worth of peels and 6 tablespoons of sugar. Place the peels and sugar in a glass jar and muddle together for 30 seconds before placing the lid on and leaving it on the counter for about three hours. To speed up the process, add 4 tablespoons of warm water to the mixture and stir.

Once your syrup is ready, add some ice to a mason jar along with a slice of lemon and sprig of thyme. Pour in the lemon syrup to taste. Top with lemon-flavored sparkling water. Cover the mason jar with a lid and gently shake to mix.

Red Onion and Mascarpone Tart

This is the easiest savory tart you’ll ever make.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Starting with one sheet of puff pastry at room temperature, score 1 inch around the border without cutting all the way through. Then, begin cutting the red onions by slicing longways through the root. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the onion as thin as possible. Repeat with all three onions. Set aside.

Smear the mascarpone with the back of a spoon over the puff pastry, stopping at the 1-inch border. Once the pastry is covered, arrange the red onion slices in straight lines, top to bottom and slightly overlapping each other. Beat one egg with a tablespoon of water to create an egg wash and lightly brush the pastry edges. This will ensure a golden crust.

Sprinkle the tart with salt, pepper, olive oil and sprigs of thyme before placing into the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

Ciabatta Slab Sandwiches

Individual sandwiches take too much time. Simplify the process with a slab sandwich technique using a loaf of either focaccia or ciabatta bread.

Cut the bread in half horizontally and begin topping your sandwich with your favorite ingredients. We used pesto, tomatoes, burrata, prosciutto and baby arugula. Pile it all on before placing the top of the loaf of bread back on and using a bread knife to slice through the loaf vertically to create multiple sandwiches (depending on the size of your loaf of bread and slice thickness, you’ll get about 5-10 servings).

Wrap individually in aluminum foil to maintain freshness until your picnic.

Pinterest-Style Store-Bought Cake

We’ve already used the oven for the tart, so forget baking a sweet treat to bring along. Instead, we opted for a simple store-bought birthday cake and turned it into something worthy of a pin on Pinterest.

First, remove any frosting decor using a knife or spoon. Even out the frosting and fill in any gaps with additional frosting, if needed. Once you have a smooth base, arrange the blueberries in threes by gently pressing them into the frosting. If the frosting is too soft, just stick the cake into the refrigerator for 20 minutes to help it stiffen. Next, snip a few small to medium fresh mint leaves and place next to each blueberry “bunch” to replicate the look of the berries on a blueberry bush.

Now all that’s left to do is pack up your picnic basket and head to the backyard – or any beautiful location you choose.

Click here for more Shop and Cook recipes and videos.

What’s your favorite food to bring on a picnic? Let us know in the comments!

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