Braised Eggplant and Broccolini with Fried Ginger
Most varieties of eggplant work beautifully in this stir-fry. A side of rice is a must.
Carrot Salad with Red Quinoa and Chickpeas
This healthy salad is picnic-perfect, because the carrots stay crunchy and the quinoa and chickpeas keep their texture. (Regular quinoa works fine in this recipe, if you can't find the red variety.)
Picnic tip: This salad is delicious at room temperature, so if you'll be eating it within 2 hours, there's no need to pack it in the cooler.
Combine just 4 ingredients to make this classic herb mixture.
Flounder with Elote Salad
Elote, a typical Mexican street food, is grilled corn on the cob coated with mayonnaise and other toppings. Here, those ingredients become a salad for fish (it would also taste great with steak, pork, or chicken).
Greens with Miso-Ginger Dressing and Grilled Tofu
A light coating of seasonings and soy sauce brings lots of flavor to grilled tofu. Romaine and cabbage make a good combo, but you could also mix the dressing with any variety of vegetables you have in your fridge--or toss it with cold soba noodles.
Greek Salad Chicken
Inspired by Greek salad, reader Marie McCarthy created this dish that's now a family favorite. Serve with rice or crusty bread to soak up the pan juices.
Grilled Pound Cake with Brandied Red Plums
When plums are at their juiciest best, they're great in a quick dessert. If you don't already have the grill going, just broil or toast the pound cake until golden.
This is just as refreshing as the usual melon wedges, without the sticky fingers. Orange-flower water adds a hint of the exotic. If you're making it for a picnic, tote the purée in a clamp-top bottle, and don't forget ice for glasses.
Lemon-Soy Beef Kebabs with Pearl Couscous
For maximum flavor and tenderness, marinate the beef cubes overnight. You'll need 8 wooden skewers (12 in. long), soaked in water for 30 minutes.
Pickled Cherries with Tarragon and Vanilla
Chef Renee Erickson, owner of several Seattle restaurants and of Boat Street Pickle company, gave us the recipe for this bright, sweet-sour pickle. She uses fresh sour cherries (with the stems is especially pretty), but sweet Bings work well too--and so do frozen cherries of either type. You could use the brine for rhubarb, green (unripe) strawberries, apricots, or gooseberries. Eat with cheese, charcuterie, or grilled duck or turkey.
Pickled Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme
Chef Renee Erickson, owner of several Seattle restaurants and of Boat Street Pickle company, gave us the recipe for these bracing pickles. She likes to eat them right from the jar, tossed with a little olive oil, or serve them with roasted chicken. She also recommends using them in a bloody Mary skewer.
In this fresh, easy spread, the chile-herb sauce serves as both a dip and a swirl-in for flavoring hummus.
Picnic tips: Roll lettuce in a towel, enclose in a plastic bag, and stash at the top of the cooler so it doesn't get crushed. Add the sauce to the hummus at the picnic.
Red Onion Pickles with Peppercorns
These may be the most versatile pickles you can make. "They're a natural for sandwiches, and of course burgers, but they're also great with smoked fish," says chef Renee Erickson, owner of several Seattle restaurants and of Boat Street Pickle company. You can use this brine for asparagus, fennel, shallots, garlic, celery, ramps, or chard stems.
Roasted Pepper, Feta, and Lamb Filo Pie
Layers of creamy cheese and roasted vegetables in a pastry make this pie a home run. For a vegetarian version, see the tip after step 6.
Picnic tips: To keep the filo crisp, wait until it's completely cool before covering it with foil and packing in your cooler. Be sure to pack a sharp knife and a pie server.
Spicy Green Sauce
We took the flavors of the seasoning paste served at falafel shops and turned it into a salad dressing. To tame it, seed the chile.
Tiny Cardamom Orange Cookies
Hints of cardamom, orange, sesame, and pistachio provide a final Eastern Mediterranean flourish to the picnic. They're so small, you can eat them by the handful.
Picnic tip: Pack cookies in an airtight, crushproof container.