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.
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Enjoy a Select spritz alongside these perfect picnic recipes for an al fresco afternoon you won’t soon forget.
“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
Bread (we like to use Brodflour’s sourdough; it’s freshly stone-milled 100 per cent certified organic)
Vegetables of your choosing
Soak the raw almonds in hot water for at least an hour.
Transfer the almonds to a food processor with about ¼ cup of the soaking liquid and the lemon juice.
Process until smooth but still a bit grainy. Add more of the liquid if you want a smoother consistency.
Add the remaining ingredients (except for the bread and vegetables) and salt to taste, process until blended.
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
Prepare the bread: Brush lightly with olive oil and toast for about 8 minutes in a 350 F oven.
Cut the vegetables in bite sizes, if using asparagus, use the tips only.
Arrange the chopped vegetables in a roasting pan. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Roast for about 8 minutes in a 350 F oven.
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
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
Add ice to a wine glass. Add the peaches and berries to the bottom of the glass.
Add the peach schnapps and brandy. Add white grape juice and white wine of your choice.
Top glass with San Pellegrino Pompelmo.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Thinly slice the steak on a slant against the grain, so the meat will absorb more of the sauce.
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
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
Add all of the ingredients apart from the prosecco into a shaker with ice.
Shake hard for 5 seconds and double strain into a chilled glass.
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
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