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AL FRESCO FAMILY FEASTS

Quick and easy picnic ideas with a little Gourmade flair

by Sarah ▪ 06 May, 2021

Goodies in the garden

There’s something exciting about a picnic, whatever age you are – but as a child, they’re just magical. We don’t mean a sandwich munched on a log while walking the dog, as fun as that can also be – we mean setting out a nice blanket and an array of fascinating nibbly bits on proper picnic plates (to be environmentally friendly, try resuable ones like this beautiful bamboo butterly set).

When you have all the accoutrements, location isn’t always as important. A trip to a beauty spot is always lovely, but you can have just as much fun at the local park – or even in the back garden (saving yourself some of the prep time, too).

Fuss-free fillings for fusspots

Unless it’s a big occasion, a family picnic doesn’t need to be a lot of work and stress. Some of the best sandwich fillings are oldies and goodies – and they also tend to be cheap, easy to make, and palatable to small people. You simply can’t go wrong with good ol’ cheese and ham – or, for a leetle more prep, egg, tuna or chicken salad.

For a slightly more sophisticated sarnie, try layering slices of beef tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and bloomin’ lovely basil with a grind of black pepper for a divinely refreshing, flavour-filled reminder of Italian sunshine.
If you’re staying home, preparing plates of finger sandwiches is an easy way to make your feast look a bit fancy. Otherwise, try using rolls or sourdough baguettes for easy transportation.
As an alternative, why not try making quesadillas? They’re super speedy and super simple, so if your children are old enough, they can enjoy prepping them with you. Simply heat a dry frying pan and toast a tortilla wrap for about a minute, then add some grated cheese (you can also pop in some chopped ham, spring onions or jalapeno peppers). As the cheese starts to melt, fold the tortilla in half with a slice, and then in half again. Voila!
Like pizza, quesadillas are good served hot or cold, so if you’re heading out and about, simply box them up, separated by layers of greaseproof paper. If you’re in the back garden, you can tuck in straight away. (Also, quesadillas make a fabulous side dish for one of Gourmade’s chilli dishes. You’re welcome!)

Crack out the cocktail … sticks

Yes, food on cocktail sticks may feel a bit retro, but that’s in vogue right now. Besides, eating food off a stick is great fun!

Obviously you can’t mention cocktail sticks without a nod to the classic cheese and pineapple. It still works – go for a fairly mature cheddar for a cracking contrast of salt and sweet. Delicious. Fresh pineapple works best but if you’re trying to save time, you can buy it pre-chunked. (You could even prep in advance by using frozen chunks and letting them defrost.)

For a modern savoury twist on tradition, try cutting up a Spanish omelette and layering with slices of Parma ham and Manchego cheese (or standard ham and cheese if your kids aren’t there yet). If you don’t want to make your own, pre-cooked omelettes are available in most supermarkets.
Should you be venturing further afield, take Tupperware boxes of diced quiche or cocktail sausages (they’re called that for a reason!) and pack the cocktail sticks separately. The Spanish omelette would also work brilliantly. Spearing your food is both fun and hygienic, so it’s a win-win! (You may even save yourself a couple of wet wipes.)
Don’t stop with savoury sticks though! As everyone who’s ever toasted a marshmallow over an open fire knows, desserts don’t have to be eaten with a spoon. Luckily, Gourmade has several puds that are just perfect for a picnic. Try cutting up some Raspberry Cheesecakes into squares, drizzling with raspberry sauce, and popping each piece on stick with an accompanying raspberry.
Belgian Chocolate Roulade always goes down a treat. It may not work on a stick, but try cutting into bite-sized bits for little ones and serving with strawberries. There are also several other roulade flavours so there’s room to mix and match!

Let the games begin

Quality, focused time spent with other is how memories are made. Eating delicious finger foods with family heads up the list, but why not add to the jollity with some outdoor games?

You could stage a family ‘Olympics’, with old school events suited to every age group. Everybody can play a game of boules or run an egg and spoon race. (Save the sack, wheelbarrow and three-legged races for the more energetic among you!) If you’re really in the combat zone (and the weather is good), why not have a water balloon or water pistol battle?
If you’d rather avoid arguments and fancy something collaborative, try getting the highest rally with bat and ball or badminton (because that will never cause any disagreements …!).

Family frolics

We’d love to see your family enjoying the great outdoors – tag us in your picnic pics and let us know your favourite games. You can find us on Insta, Twitter or Facebook, or just send us a message. What’s your tip for a cocktail stick titbit?