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With summer only days away, there’s nothing like a good picnic to be enjoyed wherever you go – beach, garden or a sunny hilltop. International Picnic Day (18th June) and International Picnic Week (22nd-28th June) are a good excuse to dig out the picnic blanket and head for the great outdoors. Just remember to take all your rubbish home with you.

Here are our Top Picnic Foods, with recipes, for you to enjoy.

BEST PASTA SALAD

pasta salad

No floppy, soggy pasta here – this is al dente with a fresh dressing and yummy ingredients to give you the energy for a bit of frisby throwing later! Easy to store and eat, this is a picnic godsend.

Vegetarian/Vegan: swap out the chicken and cheese with suitable alternatives such as tofu.

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Serves 8

FOR SALAD

500g fusilli pasta

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 garlic clove minced

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

120g halved cherry tomatoes

120g fresh baby spinach

60g crumbled feta cheese

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp freshly chopped dill

FOR DRESSING

50ml extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp Italian herb mix

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp dijon mustard

Freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

1. In a large pan of boiling water, cook fusilli according to package instructions until al dente – that means that the pasta still has form and a ‘bite’ to it when you test it. Drain and transfer to large bowl and leave to cool.

2. Season chicken breasts with garlic and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Cook the chicken until golden and cooked through, approximately 8 minutes per side. Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into 2cm pieces.

3. Whilst the chicken is cooking, make the dressing: In a bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, Italian herbs, garlic, and mustard. Season with pepper.

4. Combine the pasta with the all the ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss again until evenly coated.

5. Transfer to your picnic container.

VEGGIE WRAPS

vegetable pancake

Wraps are a great way to get lots of goodies in one handful and those all important 5-a-day in you. Fill them up with lots of colourful goodness, and enjoy.

Alternatives: add in whichever vegetables appeal most.

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Makes 4

4 spring onions, sliced

2 cooked beetroot (not pickled), drained and chopped

2 whole roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and sliced

2 carrots, julienned

120g Gruyere cheese cut into batons

½ a small bunch coriander, chopped

1 avocado, thinly sliced

4 large flour tortilla wraps

METHOD

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, except the cheese and tortillas.

2. Divide the mix between the four tortillas, keeping to a 10cm circle in the middle. Top each with 30g of the cheese.

3. Fold in the edges of the tortillas, overlapping slightly so you have a parcel, and press down gently to set the shape.

HUMMUS

Hummus

Simplicity itself and perfect for picnic snacking, hummus is tasty, suitable for vegans and versatile. Whether you go for the classic recipe below, spice it up with lime and coriander or mix in another veg, you can’t go wrong this dip.

Alternatives: replace lemon with lime and add some coriander; bung in a beetroot for some colour

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

400g jar of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic

3 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

Juice of 1½ lemons

METHOD

1. Drain the chickpeas well and put in a food processor or blender with the garlic, tahini, olive oil and seasoning. Whizz until completely smooth, then taste for seasoning (add more if needed) and stir in the lemon juice.

2. Scrape into your picnic container. If you want, you can add a drizzle of olive oil to the top when you serve.

3. Serve up with a selection of raw vegetables – radicchio, carrots, celery, peppers, cucumber – and breadsticks

4. Alternative additions: 150g Cooked beetroots (vac-packed not in vinegar) well drained for a purple hummus, or a handful of fresh coriander and the juice of another lemon for a zesty taste.

QUICHE LORRAINE

quiche

Quiche is perfectly designed for picnics, easily portable and divisible, and any left overs are great for a snack the following day with a green salad. Quiche Lorraine goes ‘posh’ with this recipe using pancetta and wilted greens.

Alternative: Remove the pancetta and this is a vegetarian friendly dish

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

150g diced pancetta

2 garlic cloves, sliced

red chilli sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

150g cavolo nero, shredded leaves only

2 whole eggs and 2 yolks

250ml double cream

250ml whole milk

nutmeg a good grating

Ready-made shortcrust pastry (you can make your own if you prefer)

METHOD

1. Put the pancetta into a large, cold frying pan and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Scoop out onto a plate with a slotted spoon.

2. Gently fry the garlic and chilli in the pancetta fat for a few minutes before adding the spring onions, cavolo nero and some seasoning. Cook very gently for 20-25 minutes until wilted and no moisture remains.

3. Line a 22cm x 4cm-deep pie/quiche dish with the pastry, leaving 1cm of pastry overhanging. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Chill for 20 minutes.

4. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and bake the tart for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper, and bake for a further 10 minutes until really crisp and golden. Trim any excess and cool.

5. Turn the oven down to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and nutmeg with lots of seasoning, and stir through the pancetta. Spread the greens evenly on the base of the pastry, then pour over the egg mixture.

6. Bake for 40 minutes until just set in the middle and golden on top. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes.

JAM JAR SALADS

These look so pretty in the jar it’s almost a shame to empty them out. A great way to make lots of different salads ahead of time, meaning any fussy eaters can have their very own salad mix.

Alternatives: Put in whatever takes your fancy, just keep it colourful!

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

300ml vegetable stock

150g bulgar wheat

1/2 tbsp dill, chopped

1/2 tbsp mint, chopped

cooked beetroot diced

½ cucumber, diced

200g radish, quartered

200g feta, crumbled

2 baby gem lettuce, shredded

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

rapeseed oil

2 tsp honey

METHOD

1. Heat the stock to boiling point and pour it over the bulgar wheat, cover and leave for 20 minutes to soak. Chill until cold. Mix through the herbs.

2. Layer up the salads into 8 jars: bulgar wheat at the bottom, then beetroot, cucumber, radish, feta and finally lettuce. Put the mustard, vinegar, 4 tbsp oil, the honey and some seasoning in a separate jar and shake well to make a dressing. Seal the jars and pack for your picnic.

COCKTAIL IN A BOTTLE

cocktails on the beach

No need to take a cocktail shaker, muddler and 18 bottles of various spirits in order to have a cocktail selection. Pre-make your chosen cocktail, decant into a bottle and stick in the cool box. We’ve chosen a Gatehouse Gin Strawberry Tom Collins. Alternative: Whatever takes you fancy, but how about a Gatehouse Gin Signature Cocktail?

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Serves 1

25ml Gatehouse Gin

20ml Strawberry Liqueur

10ml Fresh Lemon Juice

2tsp Sugar

4 Fresh Strawberries

75ml Soda

METHOD

Chill your bottles in the fridge before making the cocktail.

Muddle the lemon juice, strawberry liqueur, sugar and strawberries, crushing the strawberries. Pour into the bottle and add the Gatehouse Gin, stirring with a long-handled spoon. Top up with soda.

Straight into the cool box and head off for your picnic.

ICED MINT AND APPLE TEA

For the drivers, teetotal and children among the picnic party, this iced tea is really refreshing. Make the evening before for the flavours to have infused and as with the cocktail, decant into bottles for individual, non-spill drinks.

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Serves 6

2 tea bags 2

1 tbsp golden caster sugar

2apples, cored and chopped

600ml soda water

mint a small handful of leaves

METHOD

1. Put the tea bags into a jug and pour over 300ml boiling water. Steep for 1 minute, then remove the tea bags.

2. Stir in the sugar and apples. Cover and leave to cool, then put in the fridge overnight.

3. Strain the tea, discarding the apples. Pour into bottles and add the mint. Top up with soda water; then into the cool box.

ROCKY ROAD

Rocky road fudge with marshmallow and nuts

For something sweet and easy to make, Rocky Road is the way to go. We’ve replaced nuts with honeycomb for some extra sweetness and crunch.

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

24 chunks

200g plain chocolate

200g milk chocolate

50g butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

100g mini marshmallows

140g Crunchie bars, chopped (about 3½ bars)

METHOD

1. Melt the chocolates, butter and syrup gently together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

2. Stir in the marshmallows and Crunchie bits.

3. Line a 22cm square brownie tin with a double layer of cling film then tip in the chocolate mix and level out. Chill for 3 hours or overnight. Cut into squares to serve.

FRUIT COCKTAIL

fruit cocktail

For sweet and healthy, there’s no better ‘go-to’ than a fruit salad. With the wide variety of fruit available nowadays, there’s no need for this to be boring. Chuck in your personal favourites, but we recommend this is the last thing you prepare, no one wants to see a shrivelled grape!

Recipe

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE DRESSING

70ml honey

70ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 1 lemon

FOR THE SALAD

450g strawberries, hulled and quartered

170g blueberries

170g raspberries

3 kiwis, peeled and sliced

1 orange, peeled and wedges cut in half

2 apples, peeled and chopped

1 mango, peeled and chopped

250g grapes

METHOD

1. Mix all the fruits together in a dish with lid.

2. Separately, whisk together the honey, orange juice, and lemon zest.

3. Add the dressing to the fruit when you’re ready to devour the fruit salad on the picnic.