By Daniel Nowland
I think we are all quietly optimistic that a lifting of restrictions on our social lives will coincide with the arrival of warm spring weather. It may be some time before we are sitting in our favourite cafés and bars again, but we should be able to enjoy a spring of outdoor picnics, strolls, and long-awaited catch ups.
What better way to enjoy the outdoors with a friend than with a special picnic brunch, lunch or afternoon tea? When planning a picnic, consider a combination of food and drink that will complement each other. This will make your experience so much more special than grabbing pre-packaged sandwiches from the local corner shop.
As well as the food itself, it’s worth taking the items which will make everything easier too. Be sure to pack a blanket or a cushion to sit on, some cutlery, plates, napkins, and a bag for your rubbish! There are some great
places in Southsea where you can buy picnic lunches, but if you’re up for creating your own picnic, I’ve listed some ideas.
Picnic brunch of smoked salmon & cream cheese bagels, fresh orange juice and fresh pastries. Adding some olive oil, rocket and black pepper to the bagel will make it super delicious. A lunchtime spread of cured meats, cheese, fresh baguette, and a mix of olives & roasted peppers. This is so easy as it requires no preparation. If you’d like to avoid buying these items wrapped in plastic, The Southsea Deli on Elm Grove sells all of these items from responsible sources, wrapped in biodegradable packaging.
A lunchtime spread of tarts & salads. If you have the time, try making your own tart as it is perfect for picnics, and will last up to five days in your fridge at home. I’ve written a recipe opposite for an easy vegetarian savoury tart. If you’re taking a salad on your picnic, I recommend making a dressing or vinaigrette and packing it in a separate container such as a jam jar. A quick shake and dress at the last minute will avoid soggy salad leaves, and give a brighter, fresher tasting salad.
Roasted Veg & Ricotta Tart (serves 4)
250g shortcrust pastry (shop bought, or you can make your own very easily!)
4 free-range eggs
100g creme fraiche
100g ricotta cheese
1 red onion, halved and peeled
1 red pepper
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
Preheat your oven to 200oC. Roughly chop your vegetables and toss onto a small baking tray with olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and the oregano. Bake for 25 min or until soft and slightly coloured.
Roll your pastry to just less than 1cm thick and press into a 20 – 25cm tart case or tart dish
and lightly prick all over with a fork. Top with greaseproof paper and baking beans and blind bake for 20 – 25 min, until it’s no longer translucent, and is starting to brown. Whilst the veg and pastry is cooking, beat together your eggs and creme fraiche with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Once you’re happy with your pastry, remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper. You can then carefully add the veg, and use two teaspoons to dot the ricotta over the top. Pour over your egg mix and return the tart to the oven for 15-20 min, or until the eggs are cooked and no longer wet.
Set aside to cool before slicing and packing for your picnic!