Inspired by traditional French dishes, this country picnic features elegant sandwiches, crisp salads,and sweet vegan tarts—a Treat for friends and family.
Few meals are more classic than an afternoon picnic. And with their love of fine, simple foods, the French have mastered themagic of well-planned outdoor dining. But even if you can’t make it to Normandy or Alsace, you can still capture the magic of a French countryside meal.
Start with a roomy wicker basket and a trip to a specialty market or well-stocked natural foods store. Buy a selection of fine cheeses, a loaf of crusty bread, a few ripe d’Anjou pears, and an assortment of specialty items, such as cultured butter, fig confit, olives, pâté, and Marcona almonds. And don’t forget the beverages! Try sparkling grape cider, chilled white tea with pomegranate juice, or citronnade à la menthe.
Add a little class with cloth napkins, roomy blankets, and colorful, unbreakable plates, glasses, and flatware that can be rewashed and used again. When you’re packing your basket, arrange items in reverse order; put food and ice packs on the bottom, then plates, glasses, and flatware. Then pack your ground spread or tablecloth on top. Other handy essentials: a corkscrew, a sheathed knife, and a small cutting board for cheese. Add fresh flowers, a small backgammon set, and a portable CD player with a selection of French classics, and you’ll transform even the most urban of settings into a peaceful French village.
Salade Niçoise on Baguette
Serving this French classic on a loaf of crusty bread makes it more than just a salad. Arugula adds a zesty flavor that elevates it further.
1 6-oz. can solid white tuna
1/4 cup homemade or olive oil mayonnaise
1/2 cup black olive tapenade
3 Tbs. minced red onion
2 small garlic cloves, pressed
2 Tbs. fresh minced basil
1 whole-wheat baguette
2 cups baby arugula leaves
4 small, very ripe tomatoes, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained (optional)
PER SERVING: 421 cal; 20g prot; 22g total fat (4g sat fat); 36g carb; 116mg chol; 609mg sod; 5g fiber; 2g sugars
Celery Root and Carrot Rémoulade
Carrots and poppy seeds add color and extra nutrition to this tangy French classic. It's better after sitting for an hour or two, which allows the flavors to blend. A mayo-free dressing makes it picnic safe.
1 small celery root
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 medium carrots
1 Tbs. poppy seeds
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. chopped tarragon
2 tsp. drained and finely minced capers
2 Tbs. shallot, finely minced
1/3 cup olive oil
PER SERVING: 261 cal; 3g prot; 20g total fat (3g sat fat); 20g carb; 0mg chol; 576mg sod; 4g fiber; 5g sugars
Haricots Vert Salad with Shallots and Candied Walnuts
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 lb. haricots verts (slender French green beans), trimmed
1 Tbs. grapeseed oil
2 Tbs. turbinado sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw walnuts
PER SERVING: 204 cal; 4g prot; 15g total fat (2g sat fat); 17g carb; 0mg chol; 106mg sod; 4g fiber; 10g sugars
Five ooh la la! French-inspired finds Enjoy natural products with a French twist—perfect for a gift basket or hostess gift.
|1. CalNaturale Wine, available in Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, features organically grown grapes and eco-friendly packaging.|
|2. The Organic Coffee Co. French Roast Whole Bean Coffee uses 100% organic beans grown on a biodynamic farm in Panama. The French Roast is a bold brew reminiscent of Parisian cafes.|
|3. Reserveage Organics The World's Finest Resveratrol 250 mg boasts standardized resveratrol partly sourced from organic French red grapes.|
|4. South of France Lavender Soap Bar is beautifully scented with calming lavender and free of harsh chemicals, including parabens and SLS.5. Bonne Maman and St. Dalfour fruit spreads—each company offers a variety of delicious French natural preserves, jams, and jellies.|
|5. Bonne Maman and St. Dalfour fruit spreads—each company offers a variety of delicious French natural preserves, jams, and jellies.|
Simple citronnade à la menthe
Stir up this French classic for refreshing picnic libations:
Juice two large, ripe lemons into a pitcher or jar. Add two liters of cold water and half a cup of crushed mint leaves, and sweeten to taste with honey. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow mint to infuse. Or store in a freezer-safe beverage container, freeze the night before your picnic, and pack it in the basket with your goodies—the frozen citronnade will double as an ice pack.
Vegan Almond-Berry Tarts
Makes 6 4-inch tarts
Tiny tarts with a rustic crust are perfect for a picnic, Paris style. Substitute blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or kiwi for variety and a colorful presentation.
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal)
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup vegan shortening Ice water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 cup coconut milk
1 vanilla bean
3 Tbs. raw, unfiltered honey
3 1/2 Tbs. arrowroot or organic corn starch
1 pint raspberries or assorted other berries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
PER SERVING: 578 cal; 8g prot; 37g total fat (15g sat fat); 60g carb; 0mg chol; 41mg sod; 8g fiber; 30g sugars