Divine Dinner Party

Family Picnic Food Ideas and Recipes

Who says family picnic food ideas always have to be as simple as a ham sandwich and a handful of potato chips? With a little extra effort, you can put together a great picnic for your family with wonderful, fresh ingredients and full, adult flavors that the kids will love, too.

I'm a big believer in cooking for the whole family instead of making something separate for everyone-- when you do this, you're working doubly hard and further segregating the tastes of the kids and the adults. Fortunately, there are alternatives. The menu below is full of rich, natural, and delicious picnic food ideas that the kids and the adults will gobble up with equal relish. Yep, it really is possible.

Your kids will probably love this "perfect" picnic menu, too. Or let them build their own picnic menu!

My Tasty, Transportable Family Picnic Menu

Main Dish:

  • Chicken and Boursin Stuffed Pastry Triangles (recipe below)
  • Roasted Tomato Salad with Basil (recipe below)
  • Italian Baked Potato Salad (recipe below)
  • Crusty bread

  • Served with:
  • Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir, and
  • Strawberry Lemonade for the kiddos and designated drivers

Dessert:

  • Your favorite brownies, chocolate cookies, or cupcakes, and
  • Fresh berries

Chicken and Boursin Stuffed Pastry Triangles Recipe

Chicken pastry puff hand pies for a picnicThese little packets of goodness have got to be the perfect picnic food idea. Really. They're as easy to transport and eat as a sandwich, but so much tastier and more feel a lot more special. The filling is creamy, garlicky, and utterly delicious. This is one you'll always want to include in your family picnic. Both kids and adults will scramble for the last one.

You can also make these for a meal at home-- they taste just as good hot. Don't have or want to go out and buy French Boursin cheese? These tasty little picnic food ideas just as good made with a basic pre-purchased garlic-herb cream cheese. Recipe makes four triangles.


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Ingredients:
8 oz. frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 C. mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1-2 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. cooked, chopped white meat chicken
5 oz. Boursin cheese
1 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lg. egg, beaten

Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small skillet, cook mushrooms in oil until cooked through and liquid is absorbed. Place in a medium mixing bowl

3. Add the chicken, Boursin or herb cream cheese, parsley, basil, and pepper. Stir well to mix.

4. To prepare the pastry, roll your piece of puff pastry out to a 12 to 14 inch square. Cut that square into 4 equal, square pieces.

5. Place your pastry squares on your prepared cookie sheet.

6. Diving your filling mixture evenly among your pastry squares, firmly mounding the filling in the middle. Press filling to compact it slightly.

7. To seal your pastry triangles, brush the edges lightly with a bit of beaten egg. Fold diagonally over the filling (into triangles) and press lightly to seal the edges.

8. Brush the outside of each pastry triangle with a bit of beaten egg to seal and make a shiny surface.

9. Bake triangles about 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

10. Let cool slightly before removing them from the trays.


Roasted Tomato Salad with Basil Recipe

Sweet Roasted Tomato Salad RecipeThis very simple picnic food idea is easy to make, healthy, and absolutely divine. The tangy-sweet flavor of the balsamic and tomatoes will get the kids enthusiastic, and adults will love the punch of basil and garlic. Be sure to serve it with a baguette of crusty Italian bread to mop up all the wonderful juices.

Just a note: when you're roasting the tomatoes, you'll notice that they'll turn a little black at the edges. This is good. If your tomato edges aren't a bit blackened, your tomatoes won't have the right flavor.

Serves about 5.

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Ingredients:
12 lg., perfectly ripe tomatoes
24 small basil leaves (or 12 large, halved)
3-4 cloves garlic (or to taste), pressed or finely chopped
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. chopped fresh basil (to garnish)
1/3-1/2 C. black or kalamata olives

Dressing:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. good-quality balsamic vinegar

Ingredients: 1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 16x12 inch casserole dish or roasting pan with a bit of olive oil.

2. To improve the texture of the dish, you may want to peel the tomatoes. It's pretty simple, but optional-- if you don't feel like doing it, don't. To peel your tomatoes with ease, cut an x in the bottom of each tomato and place in a clean, dry sink. Pour boiling water over them, then let them sit in the water for several seconds, up to 60. Drain, then pull off the peels. Easy!

3. Cut your peeled or unpeeled tomatoes in half. Place them, cut side up, in your casserole dish.

4. In a small dish, combine the olive oil and garlic.

5. Drizzle on olive oil/garlic mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (I use a lot of both). Place a small basil leaf on each tomato half.

6. Roast tomatoes 45-60 minutes, or until very soft and edges are somewhat black. Let cool.

7. While tomatoes cool, combine oil and vinegar to make your dressing.

8. To serve this picnic food idea outdoors, assemble your cooled tomatoes in a sealable serving dish or tupperware. Place your dressing in a small separate container. If eating it at home, simply assemble and dress as normal.

9. Just before serving, pour dressing over tomatoes and sprinkle with basil and whole or halved olives.


Italian Baked Potato Salad Recipe

We all know that potato salad is one of the world's truly classic picnic food ideas. But it can be so boring! Not this one. Everything about this potato salad makes it superior to your average potato salad. The flavors are full, rich, and very different. The potatoes, because they're baked, are firm and creamy and flavorful. All-in-all, it's perfection in a bowl.

Baked Potato Salad with Mayonnaise and Herbs

Have finicky kids at your family picnic who hate green and red peppers? This salad tastes just fine without them, though adults might miss them. If you want to make a compromise (and you're using this as a picnic food idea rather than serving it at home), finely chop some red and green pepper and bring them along in a resealable plastic bag. Then just allow the adults to sprinkle a little over their own portions.

Serves 6-9 people.

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Ingredients:
2 1/4 lbs. baking potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. mixed dried Italian herbs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 small red pepper, chopped
1-2 green onions, chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
Smoked paprika (garnish)

Dressing:
3/4 C. mayonnaise
1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil, or 1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, salt, and Italian herbs.

3. Peel your potatoes and chop into 3/4" pieces. Add potatoes to bowl and toss to combine with garlic/oil mixture.

4. Spread potatoes out a large baking sheet and bake uncovered until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let cool.

5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, peppers, green onions, red onion, eggs, and bacon crumbles. Stir gently to mix.

6. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, basil, salt, and pepper.

7. Stir dressing into potato-veggie mixture until well-combined.

8. Sprinkle top with smoked paprika, cover salad and refrigerate 2 hours or more before serving.



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