Plan a Perfect Parisian Picnic

 
picnic prep on table

You may not be able to sit in the grass in the Champs De Mars near the Eiffel Tower to enjoy your lunch, but that shouldn’t stop you from packing up some delicious French-style foods and picnicking near your favorite lake or in the park. The key is to choose a shady spot, put together a simple meal, and relax in the outdoors like you’re on holiday.

First: The Foods

Traditional French picnic foods include cheeses (we love brie, chèvre, blue, and camembert), crusty bread, crackers, selection of fruits, vegetables, cornichons, some type of sauce for dipping, butter, and sandwich meats. You can also include a cold salad to round out the meal. Our Parisian-picnic-inspired sandwiches are super simple, yet amazingly delicious: ham and cheese or radishes and butter on a fresh baguette. You can dress each of them up with the addition of Dijon mustard, crudité, or even fruit.

We’re also including our recipe for Farro Salad with Peas, Shallots, and Feta. This light grain salad is perfect for picnics. The combination of tender peas, creamy feta, and chewy farro are an excellent accompaniment to the sandwiches.

Picnic Sweets

Something lightly sweet that doesn’t get melty from the heat and isn’t too sugary, palmiers are the perfect treat for your French picnic. These have a lightly herbal, citrusy kick with the addition of cardamom, so they stand up well to wine, fruit and cheese. Plus, they’re light and crispy and won’t weigh you down.

Other Must-Have Picnic Items

For a proper French picnic, you must sit on the ground with a blanket or tablecloth spread out on which to enjoy your meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy—a linen tablecloth or cotton throw will do. Packing your meal into a cute basket or tote also makes the trip more fun, but don’t forget a few plates and napkins. Don’t forget a refreshing drink and a couple of simple glasses or cups to drink it from.

Even though you’re planning on sitting in the shade, bring along sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. But mostly, French picnics are truly about human connection and conversation. So, turn off your phone or leave it at home so you can genuinely relax and share some intimate conversation.

Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Cook Time 30 min | Servings 2

Ingredients

1 baguette sliced in half lengthwise

Cultured, European-style butter

1 1/2 pounds ham thinly sliced

1 1/2 pounds Swiss cheese thinly sliced

How to make it

Cut the baguette into half. Spread butter on the tops and bottoms of the baguette.
Top each baguette half with a few slices of ham and cheese. Press top and bottom halves together. Serve as is or cut into smaller sandwiches. Wrap sandwiches in parchment paper and bakers’ twine for eating on the go.

Radish and Butter Sandwich

Cook Time 30 min | Servings 2

Ingredients

1 baguette sliced in half lengthwise

Cultured, European-style butter

2 bunches radishes, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 small handful arugula

1 teaspoon finely minced chives

How to make it

Cut the baguette into half. Spread butter on the tops and bottoms of the baguette. Pile sliced radishes onto the bottoms of the baguette, top with arugula and a sprinkle of chives. Top the sandwiches and press them down firmly. Serve as is, cut into small sandwiches for hors d’oeuvres. Wrap sandwiches in parchment paper and bakers’ twine for eating on the go.

Farro Salad with Peas, Shallots & Feta

Cook Time 30 min | Servings 2

Ingredients

1 ½ cups whole grain farro, rinsed

1 ½ cups fresh peas

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup chopped mint

How to make it

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water plus 1 tablespoon water to a boil. Add farro, bring to a simmer cook for 20 minutes. Strain farro and spread it out on a baking sheet to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the peas until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to a sieve and cool under running water.
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, shallots, salt & pepper. Combine cooled farro, peas, with dressing. Fold in the feta and mint. Season the salad with salt and pepper and serve.

Palmiers

Cook Time 30 min | Servings 2

Ingredients

1 sheet all butter puff pastry (10 1/2 ounces), thawed

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

How to make it

Mix sugar and cardamom together.
Sprinkle counter with surface with half of sugar mixture in the shape of a large rectangle. Unfold the pastry and place it over the sugar. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar. Use a rolling pin to lightly press the sugar into the dough and smooth it out.

Roll the short side of the dough in towards the middle, making it as tight as possible. Roll the other side in towards the middle. Press the two rolls of dough together lightly and place the rolled dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the rolled dough from the refrigerator and place on a cutting surface. Trim off both ends of the dough and discard. Slice the dough into 1/2-inch wide cookies. Place the palmiers a few inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges of each cookie are a dark golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

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