More picnic food from our food writers


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LEMON RICE

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No Indian mother would let you travel very far without giving you something, and probably some things, to eat to take with you. For a train trip down India's East Coast, my relatives loaded us up, and the dishes included simple rice ones - tamarind rice, coconut rice - that are great a room temperature. Here's a classic. Ingredients that you can't find at your supermarket you'll be able to find at an Indian food store. I adapted this recipe according to my mother-in-law.

- Bob Batz Jr.

  • 2 cups jasmine rice or extra-long-grain rice or basmati rice (I used basmati)

  • 1/4 cup dry yellow split peas

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder

  • 1 whole dried red chili pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder

  • 4 to 6 curry leaves

  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

  • 2 teaspoons urad dal

  • 1 fresh green chili, minced

  • 2 tablespoons dry roasted unsalted peanuts (more if desired)

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger

Cook rice in 4 cups water, following directions for fluffy rice but omitting salt and oil if included in directions. Cool rice for about 1 hour, so grains do not stick together. If time is limited, a little of the lemon juice mixture (see below) can be stirred into the cooling rice to help separate grains.

Soak split peas in 1 cup hot water for about 20 minutes. (Or microwave split peas with enough water to cover, uncovered at high heat, for 5 to 6 minutes until peas become soft.) Drain and set peas aside.

Combine lemon juice, salt and turmeric powder; set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add red chili pepper, asafoetida powder and curry leaves. Immediately stir in mustard seeds and urad dal. Cover and heat until mustard seeds pop and urad dal is golden brown, about 30 seconds.

Immediately stir in soaked split peas and minced green chili. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes.

Immediately stir in lemon juice mixture. Simmer 2 to 4 minutes, reducing heat if mixture starts to boil.

Reduce heat to low. Add cooked rice and stir gently with minced ginger (for a stronger lemon flavor, you could hold back some of the cooked rice - taste as you go).

Taste and add additional seasonings, if desired. Serve garnished with peanuts and coriander.

Serves 8.

- adapted from "Healthy South Indian Cooking" by Alamelu Vairavan and Patricia Marquardt (Hippocrene, 2008)

HERBED MAYO

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I doubled this recipe because the original amounts just didn't seem like enough. Great with turkey, but also would make a lovely topping for grilled portobello mushroom burgers.

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and stir until blended.

Serves 4.

- "Cooking Light Backyard Classics," July 2013

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE FILLING

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The classic filling for shortcakes.

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet the berries are

1 to 2 teaspoons lemon or orange juice

Toss sliced strawberries with sugar and fruit juice, and refrigerate while juices develop, about a half hour. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

To serve, spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto bottom half of a split shortcake. Top with the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve.

- Gretchen McKay

BLUEBERRY SHORTCAKE FILLING

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Sweet, peak-of-season berries make this lightly cooked filling shine.

  • 5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 pinch cinnamon

Place blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cinnamon into a medium saucepan. Heat until the sugar has melted and the mixture is just barely coming to a simmer. Use a potato masher to mash up the berries a bit, to release the juices. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

Serve the berries spooned over biscuits that have been broken open, and if desired, top with whipped cream.

- Simplyrecipes.com

Homemade Pink Lemonade

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I only used about 11/2 cups sugar and this this lemonade still was on the sweet side. Sparkling water will give it added pizazz.

  • 8 ounces fresh raspberries or strawberries, hulled and sliced

  • 1 3/4 cup superfine sugar

  • Juice of 8 lemons

  • 5 cups still or sparkling water

  • Lemon slices, to garnish

Whiz the berries in a food processor until pureed. Pass the berry pulp through a sieve/strainer, using a wooden spoon to push all the puree through, and discard any seeds. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and a tablespoon of the lemon juice to the puree.

To make lemonade: Combine juice of the lemons and remaining sugar in a large jug or pitcher and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add water and berry puree, stirring well. Garnish with whole slices of lemon and any remaining berries, then serve chilled.

Serves 6.

- "A Perfect Day for a Picnic: by Tori Finch (Ryland, Peter & Small, March 2013, $24.95)

MEYER LEMON, RADISH, CUCUMBER AND TOMATO SALAD WITH CITRUS DRESSING

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Using a fine strainer or cheese cloth, allow tomatoes to drain after salting and assemble just before the packing for the picnic.

- Melissa McCart

  • 20 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half

  • 1/2 large English cucumber, diced

  • 1bunch radishes, sliced

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped

  • 3 Meyer lemons

  • 1 lime

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, radishes and mint in a large serving bowl. Zest one lemon and one lime and put zest into a glass jar for mixing. Juice one lemon and half a lime and add the juice to the jar. With a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic clove with the salt until smooth. Add the garlic mixture and olive oil to the jar. Cover and shake until well combined. Slice the peel and pith off of the 2 remaining Meyer lemons. Cut the lemons into segments and remove seeds. Add to the veggie mix in the serving bowl. When ready to serve, toss the dressing with the salad and taste for salt.

Serves 4.

- Food52

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