Picnic Food

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No summer is complete without at least a couple of picnics outside but sometimes it’s difficult to think what to include. I had to give the matter a lot of thought last year for the book I was asked to write - Happy Mealtimes For Kids. Here are a few suggestions, some old favourites and some new. I hope you find them useful.

A sandwich is no longer two slices of white cut bread as there is now a huge choice of breads, wraps and rolls available from supermarkets and bakers in wholemeal, white, granary, multigrain, soft or crusty. There are also pitta breads, bagels, English muffins, naans, chapattis, tortilla wraps, fajitas and croissants, all of which can be used to make a delicious picnic lunch.

Filling suggestions include: cold meats - chicken, ham, pork, beef, bacon, salami, sausage, shaved Italian antipasto meats, chorizo and other Spanish cured sausages. Cheeses - can be sliced or grated Cheddar, Edam or any hard cheese; cream or cottage cheese, mozzarella, and cheese spreads. A fish filling could be taramasalata, wafer-thin smoked salmon, prawn cocktail, crab or fish paste. Egg fillings can be hard-boiled and sliced, scrambled, or chopped and mixed with a little salt and pepper, or mayonnaise, chives, dill, onions, tomatoes, cress, chutney, tomato or brown sauce, salad cream or even a little curry powder or soy sauce.

Add salad to any of the above for variety and extra minerals and vitamins. Choices could include: sliced or chopped tomato, cucumber, celery, red, green, orange or yellow pepper; lettuce, coleslaw, grated carrot. Add a little chutney, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, brown sauce or mustard if your child likes it.

Pots: I use the term ‘pot’ for the little airtight containers that can be filled with anything from a main meal to fruit and are idea for picnics as well as packed lunches. Try: chopped tomato and sweetcorn; chopped celery and grated cheese; diced cucumber and tinned kidney beans; tomato, yellow pepper and pineapple; cucumber, chives and sweetcorn. Or add a little rice, couscous or pasta to the salad. The combinations are endless and the bright colours and variety make for an interesting and attractive salad pot.

My family’s favourite pots include: diced cheese and pineapple; sliced cold cooked sausage and apple; chopped ham and cucumber; chopped peppers and feta cheese; chopped hard-boiled egg and tomato; grated cheese and coleslaw.

Other savoury suggestions for picnics include sausage rolls or vegetarian equivalent; samosa, onion bhaji, pakora; slice of pizza or quiche; cheese puff, spring roll or Scotch egg; breaded chicken or chicken goujons; mini Cornish pasties or mini pork pies.

Desserts: Use a little pot for dried or diced fresh fruit. Or take a yoghurt, jelly or fromage frais, cold custard, rice pudding or semolina as long as you can keep then cool. If not then a scone, oat cake, hot cross bun or a slice of fruit cake also makes a nice end to the picnic.

Happy holidays!

Cathy x (www.cathyglass.co.uk)