Picnic Perfect

  in Blog

Celebrate summer with a leisurely picnic!
Our simple recipes and tips will help you plan a picnic that's delicious, fun and bug-free! (scroll down for recipes)

Prep everything ahead of time

This may seem like a no-brainer, but putting in the time to chop your veggies, assemble your kebabs, or slice your baguette before leaving the house will keep the fuss—and mess—to a minimum once you
get outside.

Keep it earth-friendly

Bring reusable napkins (you’ll not only avoid fly-away paper napkins, but cloth napkins can also be used to wrap food and bottles for transport). If you are using disposable products, look for recycled and biodegradable options at the co-op. 

Stay bug-free

Bring small citronella candles to place along your picnic table. If you’re picnicking on a blanket (where fire isn’t the friendliest option), pack a bottle of chemical-free mosquito repellent from the body care section of your co-op. 

Avoid foods that spoil easily

That means mayo, cream-based dips, and fresh cheeses are best left at home—unless you’re planning to transport them a short distance on ice and eat them immediately. Any leftovers should be thrown away (so plan your portions carefully!).

Practice food safety

Take care to make sure all raw meats are wrapped separately, and transport them on ice. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for handling raw meat (bring an extra plastic bag to keep them in), and wash your hands as often as possible. Hand sanitizer is a must.

Cook meat with care

If you’re grilling outdoors, keep raw meats below cooked meats on the grill at all times, and make sure they’re cooked thoroughly before eating (a meat thermometer can confirm doneness). Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees, poultry to 170 degrees, and beef, veal, and lamb cuts to 145 degrees.

Crockpot Calico Beans

From ncg.coop Serves 10. Prep time: 15 minutes active; 5 hours, 15 minutes total.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced 
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can pinto beans
1 15-ounce can butter or cannellini beans
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Rinse and drain the canned beans. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, pepper and garlic for 5-10 minutes until tender. 
  3. Add the onions and peppers to a crockpot along with the rest of the ingredients and stir well. 
  4. Turn the crockpot to low and cook for 5 hours. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Mediterranean Cucumber Tomato Salad

From ncg.coop

Serves 4. Prep time: 15 minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 cups diced cucumber
2 cups diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together all of the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Let sit 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

This chopped salad is amenable to all sorts of variations. Add Kalamata olives, feta cheese, cubes of watermelon or cantaloupe, or just about any other seasonal diced veggies you like. Serve on a bed of fresh spinach or cooked leftover grains.

Shish Tawook

From ncg.coop Serves 4-6. Total Time: 4 hours (20 minutes active).

1 cup Greek yogurt, nonfat
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic (about 12 cloves)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 small eggplant
8 ounces whole fresh mushrooms, rinsed and halved 

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, tomato paste and spices. Add the cubed chicken to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat the grill to 375ºF.
  3. Seed peppers and cut into approximately 2-inch squares. Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1⁄4-inch thick slices. When the grill or oven is hot, remove chicken from the marinade and place on skewers, alternating with the cubed peppers, eggplant slices and mushrooms. Place kabobs on grill, and cook, covered with grill lid, for 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender, turning occasionally. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.