How to Host an Easy Summer Picnic

Summer is the perfect time to host an easy summer picnic with delicious simple food, cold sangria, lots of throw blankets, and perfect company

To know me is to know I love being outside. Nothing recharges my soul more than sitting outside with my girls and catching up on the latest happenings in our lives. Throw in some food and a tasty beverage and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect summer evening.

Summer time is always iffy when it comes to last minute get togethers so when I sent a text out about hanging out Friday earlier in the week, I was happily surprised that some of my girlfriends weren’t booked with other summer activities. Despite an ominous weather forecast that called for rain, I invited everyone over for a picnic. After all, these are my cooking club girls and if there’s one thing we do well, it’s food.

The key to pulling off this last minute get together was keeping the menu simple. Grain salad, hummus platter, a little fruit, and a watermelon lemonade sangria to keep us cool in the hot July sun. The farro grain salad is really the only thing that gets cooked and can get made a day in advance. All I had to do the day of the picnic was assemble the food and set up our outdoor space.

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The space consisted of a couple of throw blankets and pillows along with a bench and small table for setting the food out. Flowers are a must and have become a staple to pick up whenever I have people over. These gladiolus couldn’t have been more perfect.

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Grain salads are perfect for summer picnics since they can be served room temperature and depending on what you add they can sit out for longer periods of time. This meant no cheese, but with the fresh corn, tomatoes, and zucchini it wasn’t completely missed.

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Farro Salad with Roasted Corn and Tomatoes

Serves 4

  • 3 Ears Corn
  • 1 Cup of Farro
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes
  • Handful of Cilantro
  • Juice from 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Remove the husks from the corn and grill over medium heat until the kernels begin to char. Optionally, you can cook the corn on a large grill pan or large skillet over medium heat. Allow to cool then remove the kernels by holding the corn vertically with the base of the ear on a cutting board. Carefully run your knife along the sides and collect the kernels. This can be (and was) done a day in advanced.

Cook the farro to the packaged directions, drain, and allow to cool. This also can be done a day early.

Thinly slice the zucchinis, halve the tomatoes, and chop the cilantro. Toss with the corn, farro, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container.

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My two boys, Sammy and Denver were naturally part of the celebration. This meant I had to be a little strategic with food placement. They won’t touch sangria or melon so those were fine on the bench, but the hummus platter had to be elevated to keep paws off.

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Hummus Platter

  • 1 Cup Hummus
  • Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • Cucumbers, sliced
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Olives
  • Cantaloupe or Grapes

Place the hummus and olives in a small bowl place on a serving tray. Arrange the rest of the elements on the serving tray.

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To go with the food, I created a simple watermelon sangria with watermelon juice, white wine, and lemon juice. I used a semi-sweet riesling that was crisp and perfect with the tart lemon and fruity watermelon juice.

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Watermelon Lemonade Sangria

  • 1 Bottle White Wine (I used a semi-sweet Riesling, but a Pinot Grigio would work well, too)
  • 4 Cups Watermelon Juice
  • Juice from 1 Lemon
  • Lemon Slices

Combine the white wine and watermelon juice in a pitcher. Add the lemon juice and garnish with lemon slices. Place in the fridge for at least an hout before serving.

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The evening couldn’t have been more beautiful. We sat on the blankets in the glow of the warm setting sun and laughed deep laughs while snacking on hummus and sipping cold sangria. Summer is my favorite and if I could have friends over like this all the time, I would. Take advantage of the season and invite close friends over for your own picnic. Have favorite picnic fare you like to serve? Tell me about it below!

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