I thought it would be fun to talk about picnics. I mean who doesn’t attach happiness with picnics? Not only are they fun but preparing them can also be fun. I made a picnic basket for my wife and I recently. We were going to Newport R.I. and planned on spending the day at the beach. My brain buzzed and whirled. I had to prepare lunch was my first thought. I was psyched to use the picnic basket we 2 years before. I also thought this was a great opportunity to discuss clever and fun ways to pack food for picnics, lunch, road trips and the like.
First off I have to say our trip didn’t go as planned. We got there to late and there was no parking. If you have ever been to Newport you would know what I mean. We wanted to go to 2nd beach but there was a massive line and we had been in the car for 3 hours due to traffic. We decided to head to our hotel room and have our picnic there. It was great! We decided to have our picnic, take a nap, go to the movies and see the fireworks (since it was the fourth of July and all). We planned on going to the beach bright and early and beat all the traffic the next morning. Which we did. It was great except I got burnt and now my face is peeling.
As for our lunch I prepared a few items. I made all of these knowing they would be served cold. First was roasted asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with a sprinkle of Parmesan. This held up very well and still had some crunch. I think I now prefer them cold. You can really appreciate the flavor when chilled a bit. I used a mason jar. i use the brand “ball”. Mason jars are awesome for easy storage. you can put everything in them from salads (without dressing) to soup.
Next was another mason jar filled with layers of tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. I poured in a little balsamic reduction which sat at the bottom. This was perfect as I could shake it when ready to eat and it would coat all the pieces. You can eat it straight from the jar with a skewer like I did or bring a paper bowl and dump it in that.
Brussels sprouts, oven roasted with honey and pecans, and skewered was another delectable treat I added to the basket. I initially was going to leave on the skewer and put in the mason jar but they seemed to be holding up well so I just popped them right in. They were delicious. I brought a cooler to keep all the yummies cold. The Brussels sprouts were really good cold as well.
Lastly I brought a big mason jar filled with layers of different fruits. I just threw in some mint to give them some really fresh and heavenly tasting aroma. In addition to all this yummy food I brought almonds, chai granola, and some powdered crystal lite. This awesome picnic basket came with plates, bowls and silverware. All made of a white coated metal. Awesome!
Heres a great recipe for you to take to work!:
Crustless Quiche in a Jar: Rosemary Tomato
Makes 8 individual quiches.
butter for greasing jars
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Filling options (choose one):
Option one: Rosemary Tomato
(this option requires extra prep time)
8 medium tomatoes
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups halved, thinly sliced onions
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, torn into small pieces
4 ounces crumbled feta
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. Slice the tomatoes, and spread evenly over the prepared baking sheets. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone and tomatoes begin to caramelize. Roughly chop the tomatoes after they have cooled.
Meanwhile, heat a medium pan over medium high heat and then melt one tablespoon butter. Sauté the onions until soft and golden, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly butter 8 half-pint wide mouth mason jars and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.
Beat together eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix in the prepared fillings along with cheese and fresh herbs or spices Using a ladle, divide evenly between the eight mason jars. Though not required, a jar funnel makes this job a little easier.
4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until set and golden on top. Allow to cool completely before putting on lids and refrigerating.
Let cool for 30 minutes before refrigerating.
So whether your going to a picnic, bbq, or behind your desk at work, consider the mason jar. It’s compact and although it is glass, it is very light and great for microwaving. It won’t leak either if jostled in travel, unlike plastic containers.
Next week I will dive deeper into mason jar storage, and talk about salads, as well as some other interesting ways to pack your food.