Although there was light rain causing my last picnic to take place indoors, the flavours and variety of food were not affected by the lack of a gingham blanket! Dining ‘al fresco’ has a certain excitement to it, which often means that avid picnickers never deviate from the usual assortment found in their hamper – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But actually, whilst most of us wouldn’t turn our noses up at the opportunity to nibble a few soggy tomato sandwiches in a field, there exists a huge array of picnic inspiration to tap into – simple to make recipes, which are easily transported and kept, so that the sociable atmosphere can be prolonged by effortlessness grazing throughout the afternoon! Rifling through countless picnic suggestions, I decided to shortlist these 4, as not only being easy to produce, but as recipes that are different from the archetypal squashed sandwiches and limp lettuce; your next picnic now promises to be a change from the ordinary.
Turning to Jamie Oliver, these sausage rolls are a far tastier and ‘homelier’ option over a shop bought sausage roll. Although they take a little initial preparation, with practice the production will become perfect, learning the knack for grounding down fennel seeds and acquiring speed for slicing the sausages. The sausages are infused with fennel, and coated with a light layer of parmesan cheese, before being wrapped in light puff pastry. The use of the fennel really sets these sausage rolls apart – the slight liquorice taste gives each bite a freshness, and a flavour that cannot be found in your average shop bought comparison. Moreover, the sesame seeded pastry lends an extra crunch, introducing a new texture alongside the soft cheese and sausage.
The benefit of home baking these is the opportunity to select your sausages – the variety of sausages available in most supermarkets means that you can infuse different flavours with each batch. For example, a chili-infused sausage would work well with a small sprinkling of cumin instead of fennel; using an apple-infused sausage would pair excellently with a few sprigs of sage. As a result, you are able to create an array of different pairings, suitable for any occasion!
- Plain flour, for dusting
- 375g of puff pastry
- 1 egg
- 12 chipolata sausages
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Sesame seeds
- Heat the oven to 220 degrees. Begin by preparing a baking tray: drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and use your hands to spread the oil across the tray, to give an even coating. Sprinkle some flour on the tray, and shake it from side to side, allowing the flour to stick to the oil. Tip away any loose flour, once the tray has a full coating.
- Dust a clean surface with plain flour and unroll puff pastry. Slice the pastry in half lengthways. Beat the egg in a bowl, and paint each pastry half with a pastry brush.
- Taking 6 sausages, lay them lengthways on a slight diagonal on one half of the pastry. Do the same for the remaining 6 sausages and the other half of pastry. Ensure that the sausages are laid out slightly to one edge of the pastry, as you will later fold the pastry in half to form the ‘roll’.
- Crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar, and sprinkle evenly over the sausages. If using, finely grate a layer of parmesan cheese over the fennel seeds.
- Take the side of the pastry furthest away from the sausages, and fold it over to create a ‘roll’, where the sausages are near central.
- Use a fork to crimp the edges of the pastry, so two long sausage rolls are created. Paint these with the remaining egg wash, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
- Roughly cut each long sausage roll into 8 to 10 smaller rolls. Lay these on the baking tray, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown with fully risen pastry.
CREAMY POTATO AND RADISH SALAD
Adapted from a Sainsburys’ recipe, this dressing for potato salad combines the creaminess of mayonnaise and the tanginess of horseradish to create a blend of flavours that are incredibly moreish. The quantities here are key – once the base ratio of 2:1 mayonnaise and horseradish has been achieved, tasting is crucial to ensure the addition of lemon juice and chives are harmonious, and not overpowering either way. The radish slices match the horseradish for taste, ensuring the salad has a tangy dimension to it, preventing it from being too creamy and rich. So, have a teaspoon for tasting at the ready!
- 500g new potatoes
- 2 tbsp. of mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. of horseradish sauce
- Juice of a lemon, to taste
- Handful of chives, finely sliced
- 10 radishes, finely sliced
- In a medium sized pan, bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the new potatoes, and boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are tender and soft.
- Whilst the potatoes are cooking, prepare the creamy dressing: firstly, whisk together the mayonnaise and horseradish sauce, until fully combined.
- Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon to taste – if too sour, add more horseradish sauce to taste.
- Snip in the chives, and stir to combine. Wash the radishes, and cut into thin slices.
- Once the potatoes are tender, drain them and slice into halves. Allow cooling, and adding the radish slices – drizzling in oil, and seasoning.
- Pour half the creamy dressing onto the potatoes, and serve the rest in a bowl. Cover, and place in the hamper. Enjoy!