Get Ready for Sunshine and Sides

by Orielle Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence  

The sun is out and everyone is just itching to get outside. In Minnesota, the sun is almost an enigma and after a dreadful winter, the sun is desperately needed. As summer begins to take on its’ full meaning, picnics become the main activity for dinner, lunch, a snack, you name it.

Picnics are the perfect time to spend time with family and friends. As summer continues to unfold very slowly, it’s important to take advantage of the lakes, the weather and all the food you have in your fridge. A picnic can be a byproduct of using everything you have lying around your kitchen to create an amazingly simple, yet delicious, spread of choices.

The most important characteristic of a good picnic is one that is made up of many small, side dishes. I think the best would be the classic Italian style spread of cheese, bread, salami/cold cuts and some honey or jam. You can include salad, fruit, maybe some wine and don’t forget the utensils and plates. There have been too many times I have forgotten the proper utensils to actually eat my picnic. Safe to say it was a mess.

Picnics are also the perfect time to use those leftovers you have in the kitchen. Chinese take-out, leftover meat or pizza, fruit, salad ingredients and whatever else is hiding in the back of the fridge, can make a perfect picnic.

Of course, if you dabble in cooking at all, you could kick your picnic up a notch and make some seriously amazing dishes. Try a grilled Caesar salad (that seems to be a huge trend). Make your own pickled veggies, hummus, avocado dips, or even your own chips, to share with your friends. The world is your oyster.

And don’t you dare underestimate the healing powers of a good picnic. The sunshine, wind, and the delicious taste of cheese, bread, salami and an amazing apricot jam can heal just about any bad day.

The best part about picnics is that you can dream up and create whatever you desire. Dress it up, dress it down, make it romantic, make it Asian inspired, make it Italian inspired, make it all-American, or make it simple. However you do it, just make sure its outside, in the sunshine and stocked full of delicious fixings.