The great outdoors - picnic recipes from Fran Warde
Try these relaxed al fresco ideas fresh from Fran Warde's new book for the perfect family picnic.
TOASTED CIABATTA PIZZAS
Many kinds of bread can be used in these pizzas. You can also use blue cheese, Monterey Jack, or Cheddar instead of mozzarella.
1 loaf ciabatta, split lengthways or sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled
About 4 tbsp olive oil
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
A handful of pitted olives
A bunch of marjoram
2 balls of mozzarella cheese
A bunch of basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Grill the ciabatta under a hot grill/broiler until lightly toasted, then rub with garlic, using it like a grater. Put the garlic ciabatta on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little of the olive oil.
2. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on the bread, then add the olives, marjoram, mozzarella, basil, salt and pepper. Drizzle some more oil over the top.
3. Cook in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for about 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and crisp around the edges and the mozzarella has melted. Remove, let cool and wrap in baking parchment before packing.
CHICKEN AND TARRAGON PESTO PASTA
This really is a great dish - tarragon and chicken go together so well. Kids will love it, yet it tastes good enough for adults to tuck into as well. Pesto can be made out of most herbs, so don't hesitate to try your favourites in this recipe and blend to create your own version. We eat a lot of this one at home: it's scrumptious. Serves 4
300g dried penne pasta
9 tbsp olive oil
75g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
75g pan-toasted pine nuts
A large bunch of tarragon, leaves stripped from the stem and chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped
3 cooked chicken breasts, sliced
100g fresh rocket
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir, and cook for 8-9 minutes, until al dente. When cooked, drain and refresh the pasta in cold water, then drain thoroughly and toss in half the olive oil.
2. To make the pesto, put the Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, tarragon, lemon zest and juice, garlic and remaining oil in a bowl and work until smooth with a stick blender.
3. Put the pasta, pesto, chicken and rocket in a bowl, season and toss well, coating the pasta and chicken evenly.
Top tips: You can replace the chicken with steamed vegetables such as courgettes, sugar snap peas, fava beans or runner beans.
When taking this salad on a picnic, only add the rocket just before eating or the oil will make it wilt.
NUTTY TOFFEE APPLES AND TOFFEE CHERRIES
20 cherries, with stalks
100g chopped nuts
1. Put the sugar in a small saucepan with 200ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until golden. Don't use a spoon to stir the mixture, just swirl the pan: this keeps the heat even and stops the sugar from crystalising.
When the caramel is golden, remove the pan from the heat. 2. Holding the stems, quickly dip the cherries into the hot caramel, then put them on a sheet of baking parchment to set.
3. Spear the apples onto forks. Add the nuts to the caramel and heat through briefly if stiff. Dip the apples in the mixture, swirling them until coated all over with the nutty caramel. Put on the parchment to set for 5 minutes. Don't let the apples or cherries touch or they will stick together. Wrap the apples and cherries separately in baking parchment for transportation.
WHITE WINE SPRITZER & STILL GINGER LEMONADE
A pretty spritzer to cool a hot brow.
1 bottle white wine, 750ml/3 cups, chilled
1 litre/4 cups sparkling mineral water, chilled
400g/2 cups frozen white grapes
Put the chilled white wine, mineral water and frozen grapes in a large jug/pitcher and mix well. Serve the spritzer in your favourite large glasses.
Top tip: Frozen fruit cubes are great for chilling picnic drinks. They don't melt as quickly as ordinary ice cubes and children love eating them too. Try chopping up orange segments, putting
them in ice-cube trays, covering with a little fresh juice, and then freezing them.
STILL GINGER LEMONADE
It is worth making a weekly batch of this drink as it is so refreshing and there is something rather satisfying about being served a good homemade lemonade. Serves 4
10cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
Juice of 4 lemons
1 lemon, sliced
1 litre boiling water
Ice, to serve
Put the ginger, lemon juice, sliced lemon, and sugar in a heatproof jug. Add 1 litre boiling water. Mix well and let steep for 2 hours. Chill, then serve poured over ice.
Top tip: Many variations on this drink can be made. If you don't like lemons, use limes or oranges and, for a really clean taste, add mint. If you want something stronger, add a shot of vodka to each glass.