"A little bit of planning goes a long way. Think about where you’re going and for how long and pack accordingly. Make sure you have enough water and other drinks if you’re going to be walking for a while."
Summer is the time for getting out and about. One of the best ways to enjoy the glorious outdoors and soak up maximum relaxation is with a picnic. Eating outside makes a simple meal feel special and carefree.
Picnics are not just for weekend lunches and trips to the beach - hold onto that holiday feeling by taking a weeknight meal to your local park and enjoying the warm evenings.
Here are some tips for picnic perfection!
Picnics are supposed to be fun and relaxed. So don’t give yourself too much to do.
Sandwiches and fruit are a perfectly excellent dinner outdoors. You don’t even have to make them. Just pack bread rolls, salad, cheese and pesto and let people make their own.
Leftovers are also fabulous picnic fare and everything tastes better outside.
Cookies and cake are an excellent dessert anytime, picnic or otherwise!
If you are making ahead go for foods that can be eaten easily with hands (for a minimum of dishes to pack), can be prepared in single serves and don’t need to be looked after too much. Picnics are not the time for the elaborate or fragile. Or very liquid.
An excellent picnic option are Empanadas. They’re easy to make, you can fill them with whatever you like and they travel well. Try the recipe below!
An excellent way to reduce picnic stress (and generally encourage more picnicking) is to have a picnic kit ready to go. This doesn’t have to be a fancy basket packed with a dazzling array of accoutrements. All you need is a cheap backpack or reusable shopping bag with plates, cups, cutlery, a decent knife, a few tea towels, hand sanitiser, and a nice blanket. Expand to suit your tastes and picnic ambitions!
A little bit of planning goes a long way. Think about where you’re going and for how long and pack accordingly. Make sure you have enough water and other drinks if you’re going to be walking for a while. Don’t forget to pack hats and sunscreen if you’re out during the day. A bottle of sunscreen is a good addition to the picnic supplies. If you know there are going to be picnic tables then you may not need to take a blanket.
In the warm weather particularly, it’s important to be mindful of food safety. Picnics are the perfect opportunity for a vegetarian meal. It removes a big source of risk and it’s plain delicious anyway.
Try to maximise foods that can be easily kept at room temperature.
In any case, make sure the utensils and plates you’re using are clean, and clean hands before preparing food and eating.
If you’re going further afield, keep food cool by including something frozen that you intend to eat at room temperature or a frozen bottle of water. Insulated cooler bags are cheap and great to have on hand to use for picnics.
Pack things into rigid containers to protect them from being jostled about.
Now get out there and make the most of the outdoors!
• 225 grams plain flour
• big pinch of fine salt
• 40 grams butter
• 90 to 100 mls hot water (tap hot)
• 1 egg (for finishing)
Mix the flour and salt and rub in the butter thoroughly. Add the hot water and mix until it comes together. If it's a bit stiff add a bit more water. Tip the dough out and knead until it's really smooth.
Divide the dough into pieces - 8 for small lunch sized empanadas and 4 for big dinner sized ones. Roll the pieces into balls.
Cover and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. I usually bunch them together and invert the bowl over them on the bench.
• 1 large courgette
• 1 medium potato
• 1 small capsicum
• 1 small spicy chorizo
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 sprinkle of pinenuts
• salt and pepper to taste
• a bit of water to deglaze the pan
• about 60 grams of feta cheese
Sautee off the courgette, capsicum and chorizo. Add the pinenuts and spices and mix well.
Prick the potato with a fork and cook whole in the microwave for about 4 minutes (2 mins then turn it over then 2 more).
Dice the potato and add it to the pan. Crush the potato pieces a bit as you mix so it binds the filling.
Put it aside to cool.
Roll each dough ball out into a circle (15 cm for small ones, 20 cm for bigger ones). Roll all the circles first.
Beat the egg to make an egg wash. Line all the dough circles up and brush the tops with egg wash.
Divide the filling between them (be careful not to overfill) and sprinkle a little feta on top. Yes put it down on the egg wash.
Fold each circle over into a turnover and line up the edges. Crimp with a fork all around the join. The egg inside will glue the join shut better than anything ever.
Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash and cut a steam hole in the top. Especially important if you are a generous filler...
Bake for 20 minutes at 200C with the fan on. You may need to rotate them around a bit halfway through baking to get even browning.