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7 perfect picnic recipes for summer sipping and snacking

Level up your al fresco afternoon in the park or by the beach with these delicious picnic recipes, paired with a refreshing and easy to make Select spritz.

When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, there’s nothing like heading to the nearest park or beach, spreading out a blanket, tucking into a delicious picnic and soaking up the afternoon. For many of us, park picnics bring to mind the droopy cold cut sandwiches and sugary juice boxes of our youth, but if that’s your idea of a picnic, boy do we have news (and picnic recipes) for you.

Taking lunch in the park can be just as enjoyable and delicious as dining on a patio, you’ve just got to bring the right food and drink — and that’s where we’ve got you covered with these delicious picnic recipes.

From Café Boulud’s refreshing stracciatella tomato salad to Kiin’s juicy grilled beef salad, these picnic recipes will take your al fresco afternoon to the next level. Then wash it all down with a Select spritz. Made with three parts prosecco, two parts Select Aperitivo and a splash of soda, the original Venetian spritz is super simple to make while still delivering a sophisticated taste. Garnish it with an olive for the perfect blend of flavour.

Newly available at the LCBO, Select Aperitivo is a must-try this summer. While it may be reminiscent of other aperitivos, Select is in a league all of its own. This Venetian classic is new to our shores, but there’s a reason it’s been an Italian favourite for more than 100 years.

Select’s perfectly balanced flavour of bitter and sweet comes from the cultivation and extraction of 30 different hand-selected botanicals. To extract the most aromatic notes from each botanical, three different methods are used: boiling, maceration and distillation. The result is an expertly-crafted aperitivo that can be served in a simple spritz or any cocktail.

Enjoy a Select spritz alongside these perfect picnic recipes for an al fresco afternoon you won’t soon forget.

To learn more about Select Aperitivo, head to selectaperitivo.com or follow @selectaperitivousa

Select Spritz

Picnic recipes: Select Spritz

Serves 1

Preparation time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 oz prosecco
  • 2 oz Select Aperitivo
  • 1 splash soda

Method

  1. Pour ingredients into a wine glass over ice.
  2. Garnish with a skewered olive.
  3. Enjoy!

Café Boulud's Stracciatella Tomato Salad

Picnic recipes: Café Boulud's Stracciatella  Tomato Salad

Serves 1

Preparation time 10 minutes

“I love this particular dish because it screams summer! There is nothing better than cold, creamy mozzarella paired with locally grown and naturally sweet heirloom tomatoes. This recipe is also a twist on the ever-popular and summer staple, tomato mozzarella.” — Nicholas Trosien, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Café Boulud

Ingredients

  • 120 g stracciatella
  • 90 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 g balsamic pearls
  • 60 g heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • 20 g toasted shaved baguette
  • 6 florets purple basil cress
  • 5 pieces watercress
  • 8 g basil seeds, soaked
  • Fleur de sel, to garnish

Method

  1. Place stracciatella down on the base of the plate.
  2. Season stracciatella with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the balsamic pearls on top of the cheese.
  4. Cut heirloom tomatoes into quarters and cherry tomatoes into halves.
  5. Season the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Garnish with toasted shaved baguette, basil, watercress and basil seeds. Eat and enjoy — best served cold on a hot summer’s day.

Stefano's Sandwiches' Crostini with Almond Ricotta & Summer Vegetables

Picnic recipes: Crostini with Almond Ricotta & Summer Vegetables

Serves 2

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 20 minutes

“Nothing screams picnic like this seasonal, summery snack.” — Stacey Patterson, Stefano’s Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 250 g blanched raw almonds
  • 250 g water
  • 30 g white miso paste
  • 5 g nutritional yeast
  • 10 g rice vinegar
  • 30 g lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Bread (we like to use Brodflour’s sourdough; it’s freshly stone-milled 100 per cent certified organic)
  • Vegetables of your choosing

Method

  1. Soak the raw almonds in hot water for at least an hour.
  2. Transfer the almonds to a food processor with about ¼ cup of the soaking liquid and the lemon juice.
  3. Process until smooth but still a bit grainy. Add more of the liquid if you want a smoother consistency.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the bread and vegetables) and salt to taste, process until blended.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
  6. Prepare the bread: Brush lightly with olive oil and toast for about 8 minutes in a 350 F oven.
  7. Cut the vegetables in bite sizes, if using asparagus, use the tips only.
  8. Arrange the chopped vegetables in a roasting pan. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, season with salt, pepper and oregano.
  9. Roast for about 8 minutes in a 350 F oven.
  10. Assemble the crostinis: Take each toast and spread about a tablespoon of the almond ricotta. Top with the roasted vegetables.

Ritorno's White Wine Sangria

Picnic recipes: White Wine Sangria

Serves 1

Preparation time 5 minutes

“What makes Ritorno white wine sangria special: It’s the perfect refreshing summer cocktail. It has a really nice balance of sweet and tart. We really wanted to create a summer cocktail that would showcase local Niagara-on-the-Lake wine from our loyal partners at Vineland Estates Winery.” — Matthew Granger, Ritorno

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp canned peaches
  • 2 Tbsp mixed berries
  • ½ oz peach schnapps
  • ½ oz brandy
  • 2 oz white grape juice
  • ½ cup white wine San Pellegrino Pompelmo, to top

Method

  1. Add ice to a wine glass. Add the peaches and berries to the bottom of the glass.
  2. Add the peach schnapps and brandy. Add white grape juice and white wine of your choice.
  3. Top glass with San Pellegrino Pompelmo.
  4. Do not stir until before your first sip — you will be able to see the beautiful layers of the drink. Enjoy!

Kiin's Grilled Beef Salad

Picnic recipes: Kiin's Grilled Beef Salad

Serves 2

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 10 minutes

“In my home province, most people use buffalo to make this dish, since it is more readily available. However, I find that with grilled beef, the flavours of the sauce can really shine. This salad makes a great appetizer, with its lighter flavour that warms up the palate. It goes well with steamed sticky rice, though it is also great with an ice-cold beer.” — Nuit Regular, Thai SELECT certified restaurant Kiin

Ingredients

  • 1 AAA beef striploin steak (14 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp thin soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 ½ tsp sunflower oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp Thai garlic cloves, finely minced, unpeeled (or peeled regular garlic)
  • 1–3 fresh red bird’s eye chilies (adjust according to your spice preference), finely minced
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 head boston lettuce, leaves separated
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • Steamed sticky rice, for serving

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the steak, thin soy sauce and 1 Tbsp of the sunflower oil. Use gloved hands to mix all the ingredients and massage the meat well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour. This will allow the meat to absorb the flavours.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 ½ tsp sunflower oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Place the steak in the pan and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 3–5 minutes. Turn and cook for another 2–3 minutes or until cooked to medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a rack and let rest for 2–3 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, coconut sugar, garlic and chilies, and stir well. Add the red onion and lemongrass and toss to mix.
  4. Thinly slice the steak on a slant against the grain, so the meat will absorb more of the sauce.
  5. To serve, layer the lettuce leaves on a large plate and arrange the steak slices on top. Drizzle the sauce over the steak. Sprinkle with the mint. Serve with steamed sticky rice.

The Four Seasons Hotel's Summer’s dusk

Picnic recipes: The Four Seasons Hotel's Summer’s dusk

Serves 1

Preparation time 5 minutes

“This cocktail is a representation of my style in cocktail creativity. Its simplicity is matched by its fresh, harmonious flavours that work for all palates.” — Mike Birdsey, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ oz Tromba Blanco Tequila
  • ½ oz Aperol
  • ½ oz strawberry syrup
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 oz prosecco

Method

  1. Add all of the ingredients apart from the prosecco into a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake hard for 5 seconds and double strain into a chilled glass.
  3. Pour the prosecco on top of the cocktail and garnish with a strawberry stuffed with a fresh mint sprig.

Minami's Matcha Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake

Picnic recipes: Minami's Matcha Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake

Serves 4

Preparation time 45 minutes

Cooking time 35 minutes

“This homecook’s version of our green tea opera cake makes a great treat for the summer. The flavours of hazelnut, matcha and chocolate along with the rice crunch make it perfect to serve on a hot summer’s day, whether it’s for high tea or at a picnic.” — Aiko Uchigoshi, Minami

Ingredients

Assembly

  • Cake, cut into 3 layers
  • Espresso syrup
  • Matcha buttercream
  • Adzuki cream
  • Chocolate hazelnut rice crunch

Cake Ingredients

  • 110 g flour
  • 180 g sugar
  • 40 g cocoa powder
  • 5 g baking powder
  • 2 g baking soda
  • 1g salt
  • 5 g instant coffee powder
  • 60 g milk
  • 50 g vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 120 g water
  • vanilla extract

Espresso Syrup Ingredients

  • 100 g boiled water
  • 6 g instant coffee
  • 20 g sugar
  • 15 g Kahlua

Matcha Buttercream Ingredients

  • 280 g softened butter
  • 7 g matcha powder
  • 220 g sugar
  • 50 g water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg

Adzuki Cream Ingredients

  • 100 g adzuki paste (can be purchased at most Asian food markets)
  • 25 g butter

Chocolate Hazelnut Rice Crunch Ingredients

  • 150 g nutella
  • 20 g sugar
  • 100 g rice puffs
  • 80 g dark chocolate
  • 30 g butter

Method

Cake Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Prep a 12-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. Combine dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  4. Put liquid ingredients into another bowl and mix. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into the baking pan, then bake for 25 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Remove cake and cut into 3 even layers with a thickness of 1 cm each.

Espresso Syrup Method

  1. Combine all ingredients. Let cool completely.

Matcha Buttercream Method

  1. Mix egg yolks and whole egg using the mixer on low speed.
  2. Put sugar and water in a pan, and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, slowly pour into mixer with the mixer on high speed until the mixture is fluffy.
  3. Let cool completely.
  4. Next, mix butter and matcha well and add it to the mixing bowl. Combine all ingredients until smooth.

Adzuki Cream Method

  1. Mix adzuki paste and butter together to form the adzuki cream.

Chocolate Hazelnut Rice Crunch Method

  1. Place dark chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments until melted.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients with melted dark chocolate and butter mixture.

Assembly Method

  1. Brush all cake layers with the espresso syrup.
  2. Put one slice of cake back into the springform pan.
  3. Spread a layer of the chocolate hazelnut rice crunch on the slice of chocolate cake in the ring.
  4. Spread a layer of matcha buttercream on top of the chocolate hazelnut rice crunch layer.
  5. Add another layer of cake to the pan. Spread another layer of matcha butter cream and put the last layer of cake on top.
  6. Spread a layer of the adzuki cream on it, then finish with rest of matcha buttercream and chill in fridge for 6 hours.
  7. Frost the cake with the remaining matcha buttercream. Optional: Decorate with fresh cut flowers.
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