Packing the Perfect Picnic: Mouthwatering Meals to Enjoy at the Park!

Food, Wine, & Dining, Family & Parenting, Seasonal & Current Events

With the warm weather heading our way, plan the perfect picnic with these rich recipes and tips!

The sweet sound of birds are chirping and the sight of flowers blooming sure is welcoming to the Spring weather. What’s a better way to enjoy the warm weather and the beauty of Mother Nature than with a picnic?!

Unwind from the fast pace routines and stresses of your daily schedule by taking some time to relax with family and friends while soaking in some sun and feasting on some delicious picnic dishes consisting of finger foods and savory side dishes.

Get all-season access by getting your New York State Empire Passport because with dozens of local and state parks across Long Island, there’s plenty of places to go for the perfect picnic this season.

Whether you’re looking to spend the day at the beach, watch a movie under the stars, listen to some music at an outdoor concert or just hang out at the park, be sure to check out these delicious dishes to bring with you for your picnic that the whole family and even friends will absolutely love!

Old-Fashioned Creamy Potato Salad
Potato salads are one of the signature and classic dishes for a picnic. It is the perfect side dish that not only tastes great but is easy to make!

Ingredients:
For 8 servings, you will need:

  • 5 potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm. Drain, cool, peel and chop. Place eggs in a saucepan filled with cold water. Bring water to a boil and continue to boil the eggs for about 10 minutes. Let the eggs stand in hot water until cool. Then peel and chop. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, celery, onion, relish, garlic salt, celery salt, mustard, pepper and mayonnaise. Mix together well and refrigerate until chilled.

Caesar Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is another classic picnic dish and perfect for those warm days.

Ingredients:
For 4 servings, you will need:

  • 12 ounces Bow Tie Pasta                             
  • 1 cup Caesar Salad Dressing                             
  • 8 ounces Sliced fresh Mushrooms                             
  • 1/2 cup Sliced bell pepper                             
  • 1/2 cup Black olives                             
  • 1/2 cup Sliced green onions                             
  • 1 cup Frozen peas, thawed                         
  • 1 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese                             

Directions:
Cook pasta according to directions. Thaw Peas. Once pasta is cooked, place in a large bowl. Pour salad dressing over warm pasta and toss to coat. Add mushrooms, ⅔ cup of the cheese, and the rest of the ingredients. Top with remaining cheese and chill.

Cucumber Sandwich
Start of with an easy to bite into appetizer that will be a treat for everyone.

Ingredients:
For 15 servings, you will need:

  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 1 loaf of preferred bread
  • 2 cucumbers

Directions:
In a small bowl, blend cream cheese, sour cream and dry Italian-style salad dressing mix. Spread the cream cheese mixture on prefered slices of bread. Cut up slices of cucumbers and top each bread slice with a couple of cucumber slices.

California Sushi Wrap
Create your own sushi-style rolls but on wraps! Best to prepare the day before your picnic adventures.

Ingredients:
For 4 wraps, you will need:

  • 2 cups cooked sushi rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise into 4 spears
  • 1 (8-ounce) package imitation crabmeat
  • Soy sauce packets

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix the rice with the salt, vinegar, and green onion. For each wrap, heat a tortilla in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Spread about 1/2 cup of the rice mixture on top and add a layer of grated carrot. Place a cucumber spear and a quarter of the crabmeat near one side of the tortilla. From that side, roll up the wrap and tuck in the ends. Tightly cover each sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Cut in half and serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Crab Cakes
Get a taste of the see by indulging in some seafood with these crab cake patties!

Ingredients:
For 12 crab cakes, you will need:

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:
Mix the bell pepper, parsley, scallions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs and crab meat, and toss gently to mix. Divide the crab mixture into 12 equal portions and shape each into a 1-inch-thick patty. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crab cakes to the skillet and cook until they're golden on both sides. Cook about 3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.

Banana Multigrain Bars
There’s nothing like having something sweet to finish off the picnic with.

Ingredients:
For 12 servings, you will need:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2.2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups multigrain hot cereal
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
Mash the banana and pour the flour mixture into the banana mixture. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a foil-lined 8-inch square metal baking pan with cooking spray. Place banana and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add flour mixture to banana mixture. Stir in cereal and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Serve!

Fruit Salad
Refresh yourself with some of your favorite fresh fruits all mixed together in one bowl such as watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, pineapple, apples, raspberries and more!

Picnic Preparation Checklist
As you finish up putting together all those delicious dishes, here are some things you will need to make sure your picnic is a sweet success:

  • Cooler
    • Be sure to clean your cooler before packing it with your food items.
    • Cover everything with ice packs to keep your food cool.
    • Be sure to keep your cooler out of the sun and in the shade.
  • Drinks
    • While most of the food is prepared, don’t forget to pack some drinks to keep you and your family hydrated.
  • Blanket
  • Plates
  • Utensils
  • Cups
  • Napkins
  • Paper Towels
  • Salt and Pepper for some extra seasoning
  • Garbage Bags
  • Games
    • It's a good idea to bring a volleyball, soccerball, or even a beach ball to play with.


Have any other tasty recipes perfect for a picnic?
Tell us what your favorite dishes are in the comments below!

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