Summer may be coming to an end, but it hasn’t had the last word yet. There are still several beautiful days left to enjoy the sun, so why not enjoy a little picnic? Whether with family, friends or even lovers, any occasion is a good one to share a meal in a park, on the Plains or near the river. Here are my essentials for a successful picnic.
Filling up on raw vegetables
Requiring little preparation, having a picnic is an inexpensive activity to help you break your weekly routine. Does the idea of eating a sandwich leave a bad taste in your mouth? On the contrary, picnics are ideal occasions to vary your menu by incorporating tasty, new, healthy foods! If you get an organic basket, collect all the leftover vegetables to serve them as raw vegetables. Do you have an eggplant this week? Mash it and make some baba ghanoush. For those who don't get a basket at home, stop by a local grower or public market on your way to your picnic to pick up some nice, fresh vegetables. They’ll considerably enhance your experience with their freshness and crunchiness.
If you have wilted vegetables at home, simply serve them as chips by dehydrating them in the oven at low temperature until the vegetables are crispy. Brush thin slices of beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, kale or even zucchini with a little olive oil, and you're done!
Of course, we tend to put mayonnaise everywhere, like in sandwiches, pasta or legume salads, burgers, etc. To avoid weighing down your meal, simply add one part of Greek yogurt, which will halve the fat from this condiment. Also, you could replace it with its cousin: mustard, which contains virtually no calories. Spice up your traditional recipe by replacing the mayonnaise with a chimichurri-style vinaigrette, a chili-based condiment that has its origins in Argentina. Just mix together parsley, garlic and finely chopped French shallots, a little vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes and dried oregano.
To quench your thirst
Such a getaway under the sun will make you thirsty. For drinks that are both thirst-quenching and have no added sugar, infuse your water with fresh fruits like strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, or peaches, and fresh herbs such as mint, basil, or cilantro. Impress those around you and bring some homemade iced or herbal tea. Brew black tea and mix it with ice water, frozen mangoes, slices of fresh ginger, lemon, lime and plenty of ice cubes. Thermos™ or Swell™ type bottles will help you keep your liquids very cold, even under the strong rays of the midday sun.
Finally, remember that your cold foods must remain at a temperature of 4°C or less. So pack ice packs or, if you don't have any on hand, freeze water bottles, which will keep you hydrated throughout the day. Have a good end of your summer!
Familiprix in collaboration with Hubert Cormier