Favorite Picnic Party Recipes | Midwest Living

Favorite Picnic Party Recipes

An outdoor special occasion calls for upscale picnic food. These recipes celebrate the Tuscan-style cuisine of central Italy: hearty food that is elegantly, yet simply, prepared and shared with good company.

Shrimp Marinated with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Buy already peeled and cooked shrimp for this refreshing recipe. Juicy tomatoes and snipped basil add fresh summer flavor.

Shrimp Marinated with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Crostini Appetizers

Toppers for these savory appetizers start with purchased pesto and canned beans for one flavor and your choice of purchased olives for the other. Spread on lightly toasted, sliced baguette-style French bread.

Crostini Appetizers

Chateau Chicken Sandwiches

Serve grilled chicken on a warm toasted roll with a sauce made of apple jelly or hot pepper jelly, chili sauce, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and chili powder. Cheese, bacon and tomato slices complete the hearty sandwich.

Chateau Chicken Sandwiches

Chocolate Cherry Mini Cheesecakes

Vanilla wafers make instant crusts for these individual cheesecakes. A fruity dessert wine pairs well with this treat. Or serve the cheesecakes with an ice wine.

Chocolate Cherry Mini Cheesecakes

Almond Brie

Grilled or baked Brie turns truly spectacular when topped with orange marmalade and sprinkled with almonds, hazelnuts or pecans. Serve with fruit, French bread and assorted crackers. For best results, prepare this recipe with aged Brie, which has a softer texture than younger cheese.

Almond Brie

Chilled Tomato-Bean Soup

We created this herbed soup as an appetizer or first course. Canned ingredients help it go together quickly, but chopped cucumber, sliced green onions and snipped parsley give it fresh flavor.

Chilled Tomato-Bean Soup

Double Chocolate Biscotti

Cocoa powder and chocolate chips blend in these crunchy, twice-baked Italian cookies. They're perfect for dipping into a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet wine.

Double Chocolate Biscotti

Tangy Citrus Lemonade

Mix honey with fresh lemon and lime juice, then add fresh or frozen raspberries for this party-perfect lemonade.

Tangy Citrus Lemonade

Shrimp Marinated with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Buy already peeled and cooked shrimp for this refreshing recipe. Juicy tomatoes and snipped basil add fresh summer flavor.

Shrimp Marinated with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Pancetta-Feta Red Cabbage

Ultra-thin Italian bacon (pancetta), along with feta or blue cheese, bumps up the flavor in this multicolor veggie side dish.

For another great picnic side dish, try Rigatoni Vegetable Salad, a combination of rigatoni, cauliflower, broccoli, cheese, olives and carrots. You can use purchased salad dressing and packaged fresh vegetable florets to shortcut the recipe.

Pancetta-Feta Red Cabbage

Rigatoni Vegetable Salad

Picnic wine

Picnic wines should be light and refreshing, wine experts say. Good choices include:
-- Prosecco. This goes-with-anything Italian sparkler is crisp, fresh, lightly tart and a little dry.
-- Pinot Gris. Good with light meals, this wine (also called Pinot Grigio) has a light citrus flavor.
-- Dry Sauvignon Blanc or Blanc Fume. This is the best wine for a variety of foods.
-- Chenin Blanc. Fruity and refreshing, it's perfect for a light lunch or by itself.
-- Riesling. Serve this clean, fruity wine with fish, chicken, turkey or sausage.
-- Gewurztraminer. Spicy and aromatic, it goes with roast pork, ribs and cheese.

Worth bringing

Guests will enjoy nibbling on an assortment of olives, cheese, fruit and breads at your special event. Our suggestions:
Olives: You'll find California Mission and Sevillano olives at most supermarkets, as well as some options from outside the United States, to create an olive sampler.
Cheese: Want to keep to the Italian theme? Choose Parmigiano-Reggiano and shave off pieces to eat alone or with bread or crackers. Or try Asiago, Bel Paese, fontina, Gorgonzola or a wedge of mild fresh mozzarella. Cheese travels best to your destination chilled in a cooler.
Breads: Try crusty loaves of French bread, Italian bread, focaccia, slim baguettes, crunchy crackers or rye party bread.
Butter or olive oil: Serve with your sliced French bread, Italian bread or baguettes. Extra virgin olive oil is considered finest quality. Bring pepper to grind into oil, sprinkle with grated cheese, then dip in bread. Keep butter chilled.

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