Pack a Picnic with Pam

Retired chef Pam Heironimus offers tips for packing the perfect summer picnic

When planning a summer picnic, details are important but shouldn’t stress you out. Balancing a satisfying spread with the season’s heat is a process retired chef Pam Heironimus calls “easy breezy.”

“From the food safety end of it, you want items you can serve cold or at room temperature,” she says.

Start with low-moisture cheeses such as aged cheddar, parmesan, and gouda. Pair them with cured meats like salami and prosciutto, or smoked chicken. These make good toppings for bâtard, a bread loaf similar to a baguette but a little shorter and wider. Go the extra mile by toasting the bâtard for 10 minutes; pack it into a paper bag in your basket.

Photo by Adin Parks

Don’t underestimate the power of flavorful condiments to elevate your picnic. Heironimus is fond of chutney’s spicy profile and the earthy, nutty elements of sun-dried tomato pesto.

“The possibilities are endless,” she says.

When selecting a beverage, again, be mindful of the summer heat. If the scenery allows alcohol, Heironimus recommends a bottle of full-bodied red wine because it doesn’t have to be chilled. Light beverages like lemonade and fruit juice will help you stay hydrated but won’t weight you down. And don’t forget water.

“You can bring sparking water to keep it light, or filtered water with fresh fruit, but the point is to keep hydrated,” Heironimus says.

A melon salad helps with hydration, too. Honeydew and cantaloupe are known for their water-based flesh, and the acidity in added navel orange juice helps the mixture retain its freshness. A pro tip from Heironimus: If you’ll be outside for a while, add a cup of frozen red seedless grapes to your melon salad to help it stay chilled.

Keep bugs at bay with a portable, battery-charged moquito repellant.

In the end, your picnic should “not be a big fuss,” Heironimus says. “Have all your stuff bagged up, throw it in your basket, and go live your life!”

Mint Melon Salad Ingredients:

• 1/2 cantaloupe

• 1/2 honeydew

• 1 navel orange

• 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Instructions: Clean the melon and use a baller to scoop out pieces of fruit. Place in a bowl. Zest the navel orange, then juice it and stir into the bowl with the melon. Stir the chopped mint into the fruit. Reserve a few sprigs as a garnish and serve chilled.

Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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