Pack a Picnic

Words Harriet Boucher, Images Brydie Thompson

There’s nothing quite like an autumn day with clear blue skies, gorgeous colours on the trees, and the sun streaming down. It’s the perfect time to grab a basket, a blanket, and a few drinks and find the perfect spot to enjoy these recipes.

The trick to packing the perfect picnic is choosing food that can be made ahead of time and is easily transportable. If it can be eaten without cutlery, even better.

Herby Lemon Chicken Drumsticks
My mum, Tracey, always made chicken drummies for family picnics when we were younger. They’re fabulous hot or cold and have their own little handle so you don’t need cutlery!

10 chicken drumsticks
zest and juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
1–2 cloves of garlic, crushed
¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs (mix of rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley)
salt & pepper
3–4 tbsp flour (optional)

Cut around the skin and meat at base of the chicken drumstick using a small sharp knife, then push the meat up to expose the bone and create a lollipop look. I love doing this as the meat stays tender and the bone dries out when cooking which makes it a bit cleaner to eat.

Mix together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, herbs, and a good grind of salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken drumsticks and allow to marinade for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Transfer the chicken to a baking tray. If desired, sprinkle a little flour over the skin of the drumsticks for extra crunch. Cook for 20–30 minutes or until fully cooked through and golden, turning once during cooking. The timing depends on the thickness of the drumsticks.

The drumsticks can be eaten hot or cold. If you’ve cooked them just before setting off, pop them into a container and straight into your basket. If you’ve cooked them in advance, allow them to cool in the fridge before popping the lid on the container.

Grilled Veggie Pide
Each component of this sandwich melds together for the perfect mouthful. I highly recommend making each component, but if you’re short on time, you could buy a sundried tomato pesto.

For the red pepper pesto
10–12 sundried tomato halves
3 roasted capsicums (make your own or grab a jar from Vetro)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste

For the salsa verde
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of packed herbs (I use a mix of basil and parsley)
2 tbsp capers
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1–2 tsp lemon juice or white/red wine vinegar

For the filling
2 zucchini
1 eggplant
1 200–250g block of haloumi
2 large handfuls of rocket or mesclun
extra olive oil for grilling
1 fresh Turkish pide (or a ciabatta)
baking paper
butchers twine

In a small food processor/blender, blitz the sundried tomatoes, capsicums, 3 tbsp of olive oil, and tomato paste together to form a spreadable pesto. Place into a container and rinse out the blender.

In the clean blender, blitz together the ½ cup of olive oil, herbs, capers, mustard, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.

Slice the zucchini and eggplant lengthways into thin slices. Drizzle the veggies generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat up a BBQ, grill pan, or good quality pan until smoking. Grill the veggies until cooked through and charred. Slice the haloumi into thin pieces, then grill until golden on each side (this may be easier in a hot non-stick pan but the grill will also work).

Slice the Turkish pide horizontally. Spread the sundried tomato pesto on the top and bottom of the pide. Add a layer of rocket on the bottom, followed by the eggplant, zucchini, and haloumi. Generously drizzle the salsa verde on top, then place the top piece of pide on. Slice the pide into 5 pieces using a sharp bread knife.

Wrap each sandwich in a piece of baking paper and tie it with some butcher’s twine, then place into a container, ready to pack into your picnic basket.

Curry Popcorn
I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo Disneyland as part of an intermediate school exchange. My standout memory from there was the savoury-sweet curry popcorn, so this is my attempt to recreate it. You could get away with using 50g of butter; I just love buttery popcorn.

2 tbsp neutral oil
⅓ cup popcorn kernels
75g butter
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp flaky salt
2 tsp sugar

Heat the oil in a large pot, over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and shake to coat in the oil. Cover with the lid so you don’t end up with popcorn on the floor. Shaking often, allow the popcorn to cook until the sound of the popping slows down.

Melt the butter in a small pot, then add in the curry powder and salt and stir to combine. Sprinkle the sugar over the popcorn, pour over the curry butter and shake the pot (lid on) vigorously to coat the popcorn.

Place the popcorn into an airtight container once it’s cooled slightly.

We picked up the gorgeous green blanket from The Heritage Trading Co.

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