Writer and founder of vegetarian blog Tinned Tomatoes Jacqueline Meldrum shares three easy, fruit and veg-packed recipes for a family picnic. Just add sunshine
“These recipes are fun and full of flavour: the whole family are sure to enjoy them.”
“I live in Scotland with my family, and during the summer we love long walks with our dogs. We ramble around woods, climb hills and visit crumbling castles. The fresh air definitely gives everyone an appetite, and Kinshaldy Beach in Fife is a perfect place to stop for a picnic while we take in the views.
“When it comes to the food I prefer to keep things simple and steer clear of fancy ingredients. I make one or two key dishes, such as a tart or pie (ready-rolled pastry is a handy shortcut here) then pack ready-made salads and fresh fruit. My mini cheese and bean parcels – which lie somewhere between a pasty and a sausage roll – are a great way to make use of shop-bought shortcuts.
“My sandwich kebabs are always popular, and the kids love to help put them together. I also bake thinly sliced sweet potatoes and beetroot
to make healthy crisps, or bring along crunchy vegetables and dips.
“I love cheesecake, but it’s not exactly portable. For a picnic-friendly treat, I make mini versions using a non-stick muffin tin, topped with strawberry jam, fresh strawberries and sprinkles: super simple but delicious.
“The night before, I pop bottles of still water in the freezer to use as ice packs to keep food cool, then drink during the picnic, by which time they’re chilled to perfection. Good-quality picnicware is a must: M&S sell a great range of lunch boxes and melamine in lovely bright colours, as well as plastic glasses and cool bags to make the great outdoors even more fun.”
Sandwich and fruit skewers
“These sandwich skewers are a fun picnic option, with the bonus of being full of fresh fruit and veg.”
You will need
Ingredients For the sandwich skewers
2 slices wholemeal bread, cut into cubes
30g cheddar cheese, cut into chunks
½ cucumber, sliced
A handful of cherry tomatoes
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
A small handful of salad leaves
1 red pepper, sliced
For the sweet skewers
3 strawberries, sliced
A handful of grapes
1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
1 banana, peeled and sliced
¼ melon, sliced into chunks
1 brownie, cut into small squares
2 M&S Chocolate and Orange Mini Bites, sliced
Skewer the savoury ingredients onto eight skewers in whichever order you like, then repeat with the sweet ingredients on the remaining skewers. Little ones love to help too!
Feel free to mix up the ingredients you use: try falafel, cooked vegetarian sausages, or toasted bagels spread with cream cheese for the savoury versions, or vegetarian marshmallows, pineapple and raspberries for the sweet.
Mini cheese and bean parcels
“Little golden pastries filled with mature cheddar, baked beans and a punchy pinch of paprika – these are so easy, and always a real hit.”
Take the pastry out of the fridge and remove from the box 10-15 minutes before you want to use it. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.
Place the pastry flat on your work surface. Using a cup, glass or pastry cutter, cut out 12-14 small circles.
Mix the beans, cheese and paprika in a bowl.
Place one teaspoon of mixture onto each circle of pastry, then rub a little water around the outside edges. Take one side and, stretching it slightly, lift it over the filling and press around the edge to seal. Press a fork around the edges to form crimping marks, then prick the top of each pastry.
Brush the parcels with egg wash and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden and crisp, and enjoy hot or cold.
Mini no-bake strawberry
“Mix up this basic recipe by using different flavours: try a banoffee pie version with caramel sauce and bananas on top; or a spoonful of Nutella and a fresh raspberry.”
100g digestive biscuits
50g unsalted butter
300ml double cream
200g full-fat cream cheese
Finely grated zest from ½ lemon
1tbsp lemon juice
3tbsp caster sugar
250g strawberry jam
6 strawberries, halved
Fill a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin or cupcake cases. Crush the digestive biscuits with a rolling pin until you have a fine powder.
Melt the butter, pour into a bowl with the crushed biscuits and mix well. Spoon one heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each muffin case and press down. Put the tray in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the cream with the sugar, lemon zest and juice until thick (use an electric whisk, if you have it). Whisk the cream cheese in a separate bowl to loosen it. Add to the cream and quickly whisk everything together.
Remove the tray from the fridge and fill each muffin case almost to the top with the cheesecake mix and smooth over. Chill in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.
Spread each cheesecake with a generous spoonful of jam, then top with sprinkles and half a strawberry. Chill until ready to use and pack with an ice pack or frozen water bottle.