Living:

Everything You Need for a Stylish Picnic With Friends

Words by Sacha Strebe.

Is there anything more romantic than an impromptu picnic in the park with the people you love? Throwing a blanket down on lush green grass with delectable treats, a bottle of bubbly (or your favorite wine), the warm sun kissing your skin, and the sound of laughter in the air is pretty much our idea of heaven. What better time to plan a park date with friends than during spring’s crisp and sunny weather. To help you plan, we curated a list of picnic essentials and five of our favorite make-ahead picnic recipes to host an intimate and elevated outdoor gathering. We’re talking salmon toast and zucchini fritters with avocado cream carried in a chic woven basket and served on a soft linen throw—yes, beauty and utility strikes again. 

Read on for the make-ahead picnic recipes then keep scrolling to shop our curated picnic essentials. And don’t forget to tag us in your picnic photos @eyeswoon on Instagram! 

Everything You Need for a Stylish Picnic With Friends
Everything You Need for a Stylish Picnic With Friends

5 Delicious Make-Ahead Picnic Recipes:

GEMELLI WITH ZESTY LEMON, CASTELVETRANO OLIVES, AND PARSLEY

We love big flavors in our family—add some heat, herbs, and mouth-puckering acid to just about anything and you have a meal fit for the Calderones! Case in point: Since the age of four, Jivan has been able to make a mean pesto and it’s still his favorite sauce for pasta. Yet, I wrestled with whether to include pasta with pesto in this book. If it’s simple enough for a preschooler, do we really need a recipe? This dish is my solution. It tips its hat to classic pesto with its herb-based, no-cook sauce, but it’s a little less expected, thanks to parsley, olives, hazelnuts, and habaneros.

GRILLED ZUCCHINI FLATBREAD WITH RAMP-PISTACHIO PESTO

The appearance of ramps at the farmer’s market is often the first sign that spring has sprung. And thanks in part to their short season, from late April until very early June, they tend to set off a bit of a culinary frenzy. The trendiest veggie since kale, this green queen is actually a long, wild spring onion—and, in terms of flavor, it packs a deliciously garlicky punch. I try to make the most of ramps while they’re around, using them in everything from frittatas to pestos—including this one, which I love to slather on my homemade flatbread. Brightened by lemon and mellowed a bit by rich, crunchy pistachios, it’s just the right foil for sweet and smoky charred zucchini.

SMOKED SALMON TOAST WITH RED ONION AND HERBS

Little toasts are one of my favorite nibbles to serve guests, and of all the many varieties I’ve put together over the years, this smoked salmon toast however is the one that gets gobbled with the most ferocity. People go crazy over smoked salmon! Of course, the appeal here goes beyond the fish—there’s also the cooling lemon crème fraîche, the sharp, tangy pickled onion, and the refreshingly crunchy cukes. The elements truly harmonize. On weekends when I suspect I’ll have friends around, I often make the components in advance so these toasts can be assembled in a pinch for an elegant, impromptu brunch.

ZUCCHINI AND FETA FRITTERS WITH AVOCADO CREAM

Fritters always remind me of my paternal grandmother. When I was a kid, she’d make a killer corn and zucchini version that I’d gobble up by the half dozen, slathering them with sour cream. These savory little pancakes build on her legacy, with a few adjustments. For one, I’ve traded sour cream for a citrusy avocado dipping sauce. It’s ridiculously smooth—almost like cake frosting—and just tart enough to cut through the richness of the fried veg. The trick to extra-crisp patties is to remove as much moisture as possible from the grated zucchini before cooking.

CHARRED AND RAW CORN SALAD WITH TOMATILLO RELISH

Prepping corn is one of my favorite ways to get everyone involved with cooking: My yard is often filled with kids shucking poolside as reggae blasts from speakers on the deck. In Amagansett, we buy ours by the bushel from Balsam Farms. It never needs butter or salt, and we often eat it raw or charred on the grill. This salad lets you have it both ways. The recipe came about almost by accident. I was making tomatillo salsa and had no idea that tomatillos are supposed to be roasted first. I chopped them up raw and let them macerate in vinegar with some scallions—and I was blown away by the delicious result. I tossed the salsa with some corn as a little taste test, and just like that, a salad was born!

GINGER & VANILLA BEAN RHUBARB GALETTE

This is one of those “lemme pat myself on the back” recipes. The first time I tasted it I actually squealed with excitement. The zingy ginger and deeply aromatic flecks of vanilla bean are pretty spectacular, and just the right match for the complex, sour flavor of the rhubarb. The pastry is also something to swoon over. It’s perfectly flaky, which I attribute to a few factors: adding buttermilk to the dough, freezing the butter cubes, and chilling the pastry a second time after it’s rolled out. Once you master the method, you’ll want to use it again and again—and you can, all year long with just about any fruit that’s in season.

Shop Our Picnic Essentials for an Elevated Park Date:

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