Here I have compiled some of my favourite recipes for a perfect picnic. They are so easy to make but will truly delight and impress your guests. Enjoy!
Parmesan & Asparagus Tart
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
3/4 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (from about 1/2 a lemon)
Preheat the oven to 400degress. Unroll the pastry onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, prick all over with a fork and bake in the oven for a10-15 minutes until golden brown and puffed.
Bring a large skillet of water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook for 2-4 minutes until bright green. The asparagus should still have a bite to it. Remove to a plate and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta, half of the parmesan, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Once the pastry has cooled, spread the mixture over the pastry leaving a one inch border around the circumference.
Layer the asparagus stems evenly on top of the tart, then brush the exposed crust with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan cheese.
Courgette and Artichoke Tarts
100g crème fraîche
Small handful of fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped
8 sunblush tomatoes, sliced
4 Marks & Spencer Savoury Pastry Cases
2 courgettes, peeled into ribbons
4 artichoke hearts in oil (we like Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients Chargrilled Artichokes in Olive Oil), drained and cut into eighths
50g mozzarella, torn into pieces
Preheat the oven to 180degrees. Mix the creme fraiche with the chopped basil and half of the sun blush tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and spoon the mixture into the cases. Top with the courgette ribbons , artichokes and remaining sun blush tomatoes.
Place on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with the the torn mozzarella.
Smoked Salmon Dip
1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon Tasbasco
4 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
Salt, to taste
Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, capers, and Tabasco in a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse until blended. Add the salmon, dill and chives and pulse, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the salmon is finely chopped. Taste and add salt, if necessary.
Fresh Tomato Tart
For the Crust:
6 oz / 170 g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sunflower or light olive oil
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
13 oz / 365 g plain flour
If you are pressed for time and don’t want to have to chill, roll out and pre-bake your pastry case with baking beans this is a great pastry alternative.
Preheat oven to 410 F / 210 C
Combine butter, water, oil, sugar and salt in a pyrex bowl and place in oven for 15 minutes. Use oven gloves to remove the bowl from the oven. The mixture will be bubbling and brown around the edges. Tip the flour straight into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Allow to cool and then transfer the dough to a 23cm/9inch fluted loose bottom flan tin. Remove a golf ball sized piece of dough just in case you need to patch up the crust after baking. Press the remaining dough into the flan tin with your fingers to make a nice even crust on the base and sides of the tin. Pierce the base all over with a fork and then place the tin on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180 C
For the Filling:
1 small knob butter
1 shallot finely diced
4 large eggs
300ml / 10 fl oz double cream
4 oz / 115 g grated cheese ( I used mature cheddar here but you can substitute for another hard cheese or even torn mozzarella if you prefer)
20-25 piccolino or cherry tomatoes in a variety of colours if available
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Small, fresh basil leaves to decorate
Melt the butter in a small frying pan and gently fry the shallot to soften.
Beat the eggs and cream together and season with salt and black pepper.
Spread the softened shallot over the base of the cooled tart crust and then sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.
Pour over the egg and cream mixture and place the baking tray and tin in the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes until the tart just begins to set and then remove from the oven and place the halved tomatoes, cut side up on the surface of the tart and season lightly.
Waiting till the egg mixture has set a little means that the tomatoes won’t sink completely under the surface and disappear from sight.
Place the baking tray and tin back in the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the tart is set.
Remove from the oven and just before serving scatter the small, fresh basil leaves on the surface.
Summer Orzo Salad - From the SUMMER HOUSE COOKBOOK BY DEBRA PONZEK.
1/3 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
8oz / 225g orzo
4oz / 115g dried apricots cut into little cubes
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh coriander leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ cup green salad onions / scallions thinly sliced
5 tablespoons Ginger Oil (Made by combining one cup of light olive oil and five thick slices of unpeeled, fresh ginger root in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil and immediately remove from the heat and leave to cool. Store in a glass, screw top jar for up to a week in the fridge.)
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
Cook the Orzo in boiling, salted water as directed on the packet until al dente. Strain and run under cold water to help cool down. Place in a glass bowl and stir through the 5 tablespoons of Ginger Oil. Gently fold in all of the other ingredients, mix well and season to taste.
Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad
500g / 1lb Watermelon flesh cut into small cubes
20-30 pitted Kalamata Olives
20-30 Mint leaves rolled up and thinly sliced
1 handful of arugula /rocket
100g / 4oz Feta cheese crumbled into 1cm pieces
½ tsp Za’atar
Ground Black Pepper
Combine all the ingredients except the Feta in a bowl and mix gently. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle Feta cheese over the top.
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 tsp chopped fresh Rosemary
½ tsp salt
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Combine dressing in a glass jam jar and shake to mix. Drizzle over salad just before serving.
A “No Bake Tray Bake” that is easy to make and travels well when you want something simple but decadent to finish your picnic on a sweet note.
Ingredients for the Base:
400g / 14oz Digestive Biscuits
200g / 7oz Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa)
150g / 5oz Unsalted Butter
4 tbs Golden Syrup
1 tbs Cocoa Powder
Put the Digestive Biscuits in a large freezer bag and break them up into crumbs using a rolling pin. Place the remaining ingredients in a glass bowl set over a pan of boiling water and stir until melted. Remove the bowl from the pan and tip in the broken biscuits. Mix thoroughly and then press the chocolatey biscuit mixture firmly into a 9 inch/23cm by 9 inch/23cm baking tray. Place in the refrigerator to harden for at least 30 minutes while you melt the chocolate for the topping.
Ingredients for Topping:
200g / 7oz Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa)
50g / 2oz Milk Chocolate
50g / 2oz White Chocolate
Again using a glass bowl set over a pan of boiling water melt the Dark Chocolate and spread evenly over the biscuit base. Using a clean bowl melt the milk chocolate and then pour it in swirls over the dark chocolate. Return to the refrigerator to harden for a few minutes. Finally, melt the white chocolate and pour it in a swirl pattern over the chocolate topping. Return to the fridge overnight and then cut into squares in the morning and remove from the baking tray.