A Casual Summer Afternoon Picnic

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Are you like me, favoring more casual dining in the summer – particularly on weekends?  I’m a great fan of picnics.  They lend themselves well to casual menus.

Today, on the picnic menu, I have focaccia rolls filled with slices of rotisserie chicken, Havarti cheese, tomato, and lettuce (recipe follows at end of post).

I added some sour cream and onion kettle chips, a blood orange lemonade, homemade chocolate chip cookies and oatcakes, and some fresh fruit and the menu was complete.  This menu follows my standard template for a picnic:  A main (the sandwich); snacks (kettle chips); a drink (the sparkling blood orange lemonade); dessert (cookies); and fruit (peaches, pears, and watermelon).

Whether I am dining inside or out, I still like to set a pretty table.  My color theme for today’s picnic is primarily orange with lime green as the secondary color.  I often use the fresh fruit as part of the centerpiece as I have done here.

I picked the bouquet of wildflowers along the PEI roadside on my way to my picnic destination – daisies, orange day lilies, mauve matrimony, and the last of the season’s purple lupins – pulling the colors from the plaid tablecloth.

Because I was just a short way from my picnic site, I didn’t need a cooler so I simply gathered everything together and put it in a large wicker basket.  However, if you are traveling a distance or if it is going to be awhile before you eat, be sure to use a well-insulated cooler with ice packs to keep the perishable food and drinks cold.

I like to do as much prep work at home as possible so the food is ready to eat when I get to my picnic site.  This also means I have less tools and equipment to take with me to do food prep work onsite.

Today’s picnic was comprised of all finger food so no utensils were required.   I used my white plastic picnic plates and kept the setting simple and casual.

I wrapped each sandwich in brown parchment paper and tied it with string and a sprig of fresh thyme from our herb garden.

The brown parchment gives the country look and also functions as a convenient holder for the sandwich to keep the ingredients in place while eating.

The blood orange lemonade adds a nice rich color to the table as well as being a tasty beverage.

When choosing a color scheme, I recommend thinking of the colors in the food being served so that the whole setting is pleasing to the eye – like the green lettuce and napkins, the orange drink and tomato in the sandwiches and the colors of the tablecloth.

Dessert for a picnic does not need to be elaborate.  Cookies are a traditional item on many picnics and are very easy to pack.  Here I have packaged them in glassine bags.

Watermelon is always a hit at picnics (and it matched my color scheme, as a bonus)!

Tasty fare!

This was a very easy picnic to pull together on a warm summer’s day.

Chicken, Cheese, and Tomato Focaccia Rolls

2 Focaccia rolls
1 Rotisserie Chicken Breast (white meat), thinly sliced
1 tomato, sliced
2 slices Havarti cheese
Lettuce
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp basil pesto
½ tsp. balsamic vinaigrette
Butter
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Slice Focaccia rolls in half, horizontally. Butter both sides of each roll.

In bowl, mix mayonnaise with pesto. Spread on both sides of each roll.

Lay a bed of lettuce on bottom half of each roll. Add a layer of sliced chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Add one slice Havarti to each roll, then 1-2 slices of tomato. Drizzle a small amount (⅛ – ¼ tsp) balsamic vinaigrette over tomato slices.

Top with another layer of lettuce and place tops of each roll on the sandwiches. Leave sandwiches whole or slice diagonally, as desired.

Yield: 2 servings

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