Nothing says English summer like a picnic. Alfresco dining with friends in the sunshine – good food, drink and a bit of fun, what more could you want? Whether you are picking up preprepared food from Waitrose or M&S or making your own designer spread the time is right for planning a meal out doors.
National picnic week starts this weekend and with all the lovely parks in London, there is no shortage of places to get out and enjoy the sun (yes we’re ever hopeful). Here we highlight some of the best products to make every picnic a roaring success, as well as a couple of recipes that are sure to impress!
Warm steak & O’live Bunched Beetroot sandwich with O’live Cos Lettuce
This tasty recipe uses ruby red organic beetroot with its earthy flavour and organic cos lettuce with its crispy bite to freshen up – and offer a more healthy take on – the traditional steak sandwich.
Serves: 2 – courtesy of o-liveorganic.com.
for the dressing
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 small clove garlic, crushed
salt & freshly ground black pepper
for the sandwich
a 2-3cm fat ribeye steak (approx 225g weight)
1 tbsp olive oil
a little sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2-4 shallots, finely sliced (for a summer version, replace the shallots with a handful of peppery watercress leaves)
2 O’live Bunched Beetroot, boiled for 40 – 45 minutes and cut into slices
O’live Cos Lettuce, a few leaves
a ciabatta loaf, cut in half & sliced open
Firstly, make the dressing by putting everything in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well until thoroughly mixed and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan until smoking hot. Season the steak on both sides with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay the steak in the pan and fry, undisturbed, on one side for 2-3 minutes. Flip over and fry on the other side for a further 2-3 minutes. For a 2-3cm thick piece of meat these timings should give you a medium steak. Cook a little less for rare, a little more for well done. Remove the steak and allow to rest on a warm plate tightly covered in foil.
Add the shallots to the frying pan and fry for a few minutes over a medium high heat until softening and beginning to caramelise. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
Lay the ciabatta slices, cut side down, in the frying pan and toast lightly for a minute or two.
Place some torn lettuce leaves between 2 pieces of the ciabatta. Slice the steak into 1cm wide strips across the grain and arrange on top of the lettuce. Top with the sliced beetroot and fried onions. Finally drizzle over a little of the dressing and cover with the top of the ciabatta. Serve immediately.
Any leftover dressing with keep in the fridge for at least a week.
Sweet Eve Strawberry & British Asparagus Mini Quiches
This recipe is quick and easy to make and the size of these mini quiches makes them perfectly portable for a day out at the park or even the beach.
Serves: 6 – courtesy of www.sweetevestrawberry.co.uk
1 tbsp flour for dusting
250g ready roll puff pastry
1 whisked whole large egg, for glazing
75g asparagus tips
150g Sweet Eve strawberries, washed and halved
4 tbsp creme fraiche
2 large eggs, plus 1 extra yolk
10 crushed pink peppercorns
50g Parmigiano cheese, grated
salt & pepper
Preheat your oven to 200c and line a baking tray with baking paper.
On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry and cut into 6 equal portions, pressing each into a shallow tart tray.
Prick the pastry all over inside the border, brush with whisked egg mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes then remove and push down the bases inside the borders and set aside.
In a bowl, mix the creme fraiche, eggs and yolk and the parmesan together, lightly season, then empty the filling onto the chilled pastry cases.
Arrange the asparagus tips and the strawberries over the mixture and using a pastry brush, cover the exposed pastry borders with the whisked egg mix and gently brush the asparagus and strawberries too. Sprinkle with the crushed peppercorns.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked.
This red polka dot extra-large picnic blanket by Just A Joy in its own compact carry bag, (£39.75 from Amazon) is perfect for protection from damp ground and makes a great base for your alfresco dining.
House by John Lewis Explore Tiffin Box, £20 gives four separate layers for transporting and presenting salads.
The BOSE SoundLink mini portable wireless speaker, £145.95 from PCWorld.co.uk means that you can set the musical mood at your soirée.
Why not present your boozy lemonade in this west5products Blue Party Plastic Drinks Dispenser with tap & ice cubes, £10.95 from Amazon.
The Greenfield Collection Goodwood willow picnic hamper with mulberry red lining, £130.85, gives you plenty of room for food as well as place setting for 6 people.
Cotton Birds on Wire Floor Cushions, £12.99 from homescapesonline.com are perfect if the rug is not large enough or to add a bit of luxury to your picnic.
Hang these Truly Scrumptious Paper Lanterns from the trees to show people your coveted spot, £8.50 from candleandcake.co.uk.
Set up the Traditional Badminton Set, £16.95 from DotComGiftShop.com, for fun games in between courses and so people can burn off energy in the sun.