It’s inevitable. Summer is bound to be a whirlwind of events: vacations, holidays, birthdays, concerts, festivals, hiking excursions, pool parties, lounging with your favorite someone in your favorite park. One might worry when there will be time for eating, but never fear, we don’t have to forgo good food to have a good time.
Instead of pulling into the nearest drive-thru, why not pack a picnic basket full of summer’s bounty? We’ve put together a few recipes to get your creative juices flowing from Indulge magazine (available online and at all Zupan’s Markets) and our in-store experts.
And remember, if you run out of time, our experts can help pack a basket for you at any budget. Just ask a Zupan’s staff member at your local market. From our team to your table (or basket)…Bon Appétit!
For Starters: Wow your fellow summer warriors with simple and tasty hors d’oeuvres. Pack a selection of olives to snack on, along with a great cheese. Cheesemonger Susan Walrabenstein recommends Sunset Bay Chèvre. Zucchini– another summer favorite–is a proven crowd-pleaser. These grilled, stuffed zucchinis make a great starter to a picnic. They’re also a vegetarian option.
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 small tomato
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 T of Parmigiano-Reggiano, with extra to top
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt + freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut zucchinis in half. Scrape out the insides and reserve the flesh for your filling. Season the zucchini shells w/salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
- In a small pan, infuse a good-sized drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with garlic over medium heat. While the garlic flavors your oil, finely chop your green onions and the reserved zucchini flesh. Season w/salt and pepper, and add to the pan.
- Dice your tomato. Remove the seeds and get rid of as much moisture as possible.
- Remove the green onion/zucchini mixture from your pan and transfer to a small bowl. Add 2T of Parmigiano-Reggiano, diced tomato and 2T chopped parley. Mix ingredients well.
- Spoon stuffing into zucchini shells, place in an oven-safe pan, sprinkle with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and cook for 15-20 minutes until the stuffing softens. Turn the oven temperature to broil and cook for 2-3 minutes until the stuffing turns golden brown. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, garnish with extra parsley and place in travel container.
Winning the Popular Vote: For an entrée, please the meat-lovers in your party with rib eye steak sandwiches and the veggie-eating crowd with grilled caprese sandwiches. The homemade garlic-herb bread is the same for both, but the different fillings allow you to satisfy all your guests and get creative.
Serves 4 (2 Caprese Sandwiches/2 Rib Eye Steak Sandwiches)
2 French bread baguettes
4 medium garlic cloves, cut in half
½ t. coarse salt, preferably kosher
2 T unsalted, softened butter
1 T olive oil
2 T minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 T minced fresh basil
1 ball (4-5 oz.) fresh mozzarella cheese
2 small vine-ripe tomatoes at room temperature, sliced into 4 rounds each
2-4 T grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 Harris Ranch rib eye steaks
¼ t. freshly ground pepper
½ T ground peppercorns
1 t. fennel seeds
1 t. coriander seeds
Non-stick olive oil spray
2 leaves romaine lettuce
2-4 T blue cheese crumbles
For the Bread:
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium or medium low heat.
- Cut baguettes in half. Cut each half lengthwise in half to form 8 pieces. Sprinkle the garlic with salt and mince. Transfer to a small bowl, add the butter, olive oil, parsley and basil and stir until blended. Spread on all cut sides of the bread.
- Before grilling, wipe your grill’s grate with a clean rag dipped in vegetable oil. Make sure to go BACK TO FRONT if you want to keep your arm hair!
- Grill bread, cut sides down, for 1-2 minutes.
- Immediately after removing your bread from the grill, arrange your mozzarella equally on two pieces of your bread.
- Return the sandwiches to the grill on medium low until the cheese begins to melt. Pull off the grill and add tomatoes and basil leaves.
- Place the top halves of bread on the loaded bottom halves to form your sandwich and wrap in parchment paper or tinfoil.
Rib Eye Steak Sandwiches:
- Grind peppercorns, coriander and fennel seeds into a fine powder. Lightly spray your steaks with olive oil spray; sprinkle each side with salt, pepper and 1 ½ t. of the spice mix. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- Heat grill to medium high.
- Grill steaks until desired doneness (approximately 2.5 minutes for medium-rare). Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice steaks into thin strips at an angle and arrange on 2 slices of herb bread.
- Sprinkle blue cheese crumbles onto the warm steaks. Top with romaine leaves and the additional two slices of bread. Wrap in parchment paper or foil for travel.
The Good Stuff: Skip heavy desserts and opt for a light and refreshing treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. Grilled summer peaches with fresh mint and brown sugar are absolutely heavenly. Honestly, who can think about cake when they have peach juice dripping down their chin?
4 peaches, cut in quarters, pits discarded
2 t. light brown sugar
Handful of mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- Place grill on medium heat. Sprinkle your peaches with brown sugar.
- Grill your peaches for 1-2 minutes on each side. To get nice grill marks, don’t move the peaches around during that time.
- Remove from heat and place into travel container. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped mint and seal container.
Vive le Vino: Instead of worrying endlessly about whether you should pair your culinary presents with red or white, pick up both and avoid the issue all together. Zupan’s Burnside Wine Cellar Steward Amber Kinjerski recommends a Zinfandel with grilled foods. Its weightiness and voluptuous texture combined with spicy flavor notes complement grilled foods fabulously. For a refreshing and clean white wine to sip through the heat, try a Chardonnay from Chile or Argentina. A Chardonnay with fruity undertones and crisp finish will pair nicely with fruits and veggies.
We hope your culinary gears are turning with ideas on how to pack your own custom picnic basket full of fresh and healthful goodies for all your summer excursions. We guarantee the results will be tastier than any so-called “value meal” and well worth the extra bit of time it takes to craft these masterpieces in a basket!