Fourth of July Picnic FoodFourth of July Picnic
Now that summer is really here, it’s time to grab a basket full of food, a big blanket, and head outdoors for a picnic. Picnics are refreshingly casual, full of bright flavors, good friends, and food you can eat with your hands. This menu lends itself equally well to both a civilized picnic in New York City’s Bryant Park and a long hike in the Rockies. Spend a little time in the kitchen preparing this menu beforehand, and savor the benefits while lounging on your picnic blanket outdoors.
This perfect summer beverage has gotten a bad reputation from Spanish tourist traps and high school parties. In truth, sangria is a nuanced cocktail, as grown up as you want to make it, depending on the quality of the ingredients. Start with a decent red wine, go easy on the sugar, and instead balance sweetness with fruit and spices.
Yield: Serves 12
In a large bowl or jug, empty the two bottles of wine, and whisk in the sugar. Add the cinnamon stick. Peel the lemons and pierce the peels with the cloves before adding to the wine. Slice the lemons, blood orange, and peaches and add to the wine as well. Cover and leave in a cool place to macerate for at least two hours.
When sangria base is chilled, add the limonata and mix well. Serve with big ice cubes on any hot afternoon.
A whole roast chicken goes a long way, especially if you’re feeding a picnic crowd. Roast the chicken the day or morning before your picnic, then use the different parts for several different dishes. It’s an easy preparation that leaves your hands free for a glass of wine once you’re on the picnic blanket. Preheat oven to 425°F.
Clean the chicken, removing any giblets from the cavity. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. Place chicken, breast-side up, in a large roasting pan, and season cavity with salt and pepper. Cut 1 lemon into quarters, and place inside cavity with 2 sprigs of rosemary. Smash 2 cloves garlic and place in cavity as well.
Brush skin well with two-thirds of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Clean remaining rosemary off sprig, mince remaining garlic, and combine in a small bowl with remaining lemon juice and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place in roasting pan around chicken.
Roast in oven for 15 minutes until skin is crisped and browned, then reduce oven temperature to 375°F, and roast for another 30-40 minutes, basting chicken and potatoes frequently. Make a small cut between the thigh and the leg to check for doneness. The juices should run clear.
Remove chicken from oven and let cool before carving.
This simple, tasty sandwich is a twist on pa amb tomàquet, a tomato bread staple from Catalonia in northeastern Spain. Rather than slicing the tomato, Catalonians grate it and then spread it on the bread. This technique makes the sandwich much easier to eat, as the toppings and bread are less likely to slide around.
Yield: 4 sandwiches
Wash tomatoes. Using a cheese grater, grate tomatoes into a medium bowl. Stir in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Open the baguettes and generously spread both sides of the bread with grated tomato. Assemble sandwiches with slices of chicken breast, cheese, and basil leaves. Wrap each sandwich in aluminum foil for easy transport to the picnic.
Serve with rosemary-roasted potatoes.
This quinoa salad is a light and summery update on pasta salad, plus another great way to use leftover roast chicken. I love the colorful mix of vegetables and sweet hint from the raisins. You can mix and match vegetables with what you have in the refrigerator.
Yield: 4 servings as a side
Remove chicken meat from the bones and shred into bite-size pieces.
In a medium bowl, cover quinoa with cold water and soak 5 minutes. Strain and put in a medium sauce pan with a tight lid. Add 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, and turn heat down to low. Cook for fifteen minutes covered. Remove from heat and keep covered five minutes. Fluff with a fork, and mix raisins into still warm quinoa.
Meanwhile, prepare vegetables, zest and juice lemon, and chop parsley.
Once quinoa is cool, toss with chicken, vegetables, parsley, lemon juice and zest. Add olive oil and season to taste.
Brighten up the classic sugar cookie with lemon zest and lavender flowers. These cookies are easy to make and travel well for the summer picnic dessert. If you have space in your cooler, bring vanilla ice cream. A scoop sandwiched between two of these cookies is pure heaven.
Yield: 14 cookies
Cream together butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Beat in egg and lemon zest. Stir lavender flowers into flour. Add to butter mixture. Shape into a log and roll up with plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from refrigerator and slice into coins. Bake on parchment paper for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.