Some of our best adventures have involved picnics. The photo above was taken in Joshua Tree last Thanksgiving – it was cold – hence the hats – but we still ventured out on a hike with some left-over-turkey sandwiches. Eaten outdoors with magnificent rocks surrounding us those sandwiches were some of the best we have ever tasted. Food just tastes better outside.
Got plans for next weekend?
Want to picnic like Mario and Alice?
Want to win a prize from Nature Conservancy?
April 22nd happens to be Earth Day – and the good people at Nature Convervancy have organised a really cool event – a global picnic for the planet. With picnics planned for around the world perhaps you’d like to join in the fun – at the very least grab a sandwich and eat it outside. Here in LA there are picnics planned in Griffith Park and also more information to be found at the Farmers Market on Fairfax and Third. Or, like me, you can join in virtually and share memories, recipes and picnic trivia. There’s even prizes to win!
What’s really appealing to me about this fun picnic is that some of our best chefs have joined in the fun and given their favorite picnic recipes. Below I have Mario Batali’s Mint and Peas recipe – no prizes for guessing why Minty chose this one – it brought back memories of our popping peas last year so I’ve included that video – I love the way Minty and Rémy sang their way through it.
As well as Mario you can find recipes from Alice Waters – Spring Minestrone with Peas and Asparagus (more peas!), a goat and ricotta cheese terrine from one of my favorite French chefs, Eric Ripert and a delicious looking salad of asparagus and zucchini with Parmesan for Carla Hall – don’t you just love her energy? All this and more can be found at the Nature Conservancy’s website.
Picnics require careful planning – usually best to chose food that transports easily – that beautiful fluffy cheesecake will be mush by the time you get to eat it if you’ve carried it out into the back of beyond in your backpack. I also think it’s good to keep things simple – go for big flavors and something to be eaten in your hands – as much as we’d all love to have trunks of silver and best linens carted out to a pitureseque spot a la Victorian travellers (there’s that great scene in Room with A View when they all go on a picnic in Tuscany). For our picnic, as well as Mario’s Minty Peas we will be taking homemade bialy’s – my latest obsession courtesy of Marc Vetri’s recipe that he gave me for my book MADE IN AMERICA – filled with good quality Gruyere, ham, Dijon mustard, a delicious red pepper sauce and baby romaine leaves – simple, satisfying and easy to transport. Can’t wait to share the recipe for the bailys and red pepper sauce when the book comes out this fall – think Reuben sandwiches with a Vetri twist.
If you’d like to win a swag bag from the Nature Conservancy just leave a comment including your fav picnic treats – it’s that simple.
Happy Earth Day! Enjoy your Picnic!
Mario’s recipe for Peas and Mint Salad
¼ cup red wine vinegar, preferably Chianti
¼ cup sparkling water
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Ligurian
(makes 1 cup)
2 lbs peas in the pod, shelled, or 2 cups fresh peas
1 medium red onion, cut into dice about the same size as the peas
½ bunch fresh mint, leaves removed and torn into 2-3 pieces each
¼ cup Red Wine Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Whisk the vinegar, water, and olive oil together in a small bowl. (The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
Combine the peas, onion, and mint in a medium bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and serve, or let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to bring out the flavors. (The peas can be refrigerated for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before serving).
Social Media Links:
Project hashtag – #picnic11
Twitter – @nature_org
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/thenatureconservancy