When the weather is nice, I always like to head outside and eat my meals. Whether I'm sitting in the grass or on a bench in the park, or sitting on a beach blanket poolside, having a picnic is one of my favorite perks to summer.
Unfortunately, some foods just don't work logistically when you're transferring them outside, and they don't hold up in the summer heat for too long. In fact, my mom tells me a dreadful story of packing tuna fish sandwiches for the beach and how the summer heat turned them into a warm, unpalatable and overly fishy meal that caused several people stomach distress.
You can guarantee tuna fish sandwiches are not on this list, unless you love tuna -- in that case, pack it in a cooler with ice -- but here are five foods you can easily pack, transport safely and eat at your picnic location, wherever that may be.
5. Pressed Sandwiches
Rather than making individual sandwiches for each person, a giant pressed sandwich makes packing for a picnic a heck of a lot easier. Simply cut two round loaves of bread, like country, focaccia or ciabatta bread, then brush with olive oil and layer with your choice of sliced meat, cheese, leafy greens and other toppings. Close the sandwich with the other bread half, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, lay a baking sheet on top and underneath the sandwich, then place a weight (cans, bricks, a skillet, books, etc.) on top of the baking sheet to press it together for about an hour. You can refrigerate the sandwich up to a day before serving, so make it a day ahead for easy preparation. When you're ready to serve, simply cut it into wedges or slices.
The beauty about making a slaw is that the raw vegetables get better the longer they soak and marinate in the dressing. Whether you like to make a traditional coleslaw with carrots, savoy cabbage, scallions, mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar, or a twist on the classic with rhubarb, apples, fennel, or celery, you'll definitely want to pack slaw to go with our number one picnic food choice.
3. Fruit Salad
Fruit salad is one of the easiest and tastiest dishes to make during the summertime. It's refreshing and sweet and you can put whatever you want in it, not to mention the fact that it's super easy to pack. Slice up fresh apples, cantaloupe, watermelon and bananas, and toss in grapes, strawberries and blueberries. You don't need to add any extra sugar to this naturally sweet dish.
2. Antipasti Platters
Fill an antipasti platter with a variety of foods to make sandwiches and eat individually. Add an assortment of meats like thinly sliced meats (turkey, ham, pastrami, prosciutto), olives, cheeses (Parmigiano-Reggiano, Swiss, Provolone, mozzarella) cut into chunks and slices, sundried tomato spread, or other spreads and of course, bread. Slice the bread thinly to use for sandwiches or to serve open-faced. With a variety of foods on one platter, the possibilities are endless and there's something for everyone.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Cold Fried Chicken
Who doesn't like cold fried chicken? Make any fried chicken recipe you enjoy, then stick it in the fridge to enjoy the next day. Everyone will love getting to bite into their own drumstick with a side of coleslaw and fruit salad. If you don't want to make your own fried chicken, just buy it from your favorite restaurant -- no one will be upset with that decision.