There is a real sense of togetherness which I associate with picnics. You can always feel enthusiastic anticipation brewing, everyone curious about what is going to come out of the wicker basket, no one ever disappointed. Have you ever noticed that? Picnics are happy places, and the phrase ‘the more the merrier’ is never more relevant than it is to the humble picnic-food and guests equally.
Cooking for people, in whatever instance, makes me happy- simple as that! The truth is I am often working to a tight budget, and think it is something I have managed to master.
Determined not to let this little glitch get in the way of something I love doing, I thought I would share with you an example of how I cook on a budget, without having to make many sacrifices. I spent approximately £22 on the food for this picnic and cooked the following recipes, for four people.
Asparagus, Lemon and Truffle Oil Soda Scones (my own recipe)
Funky Carrots with Beetroot and Mint Yogurt Dip (My own recipe)
I served the two main recipes in little cardboard boxes, which meant I didn’t require quite the same quantities the recipes called for. So I made a few allowances, which didn’t effect the recipes much, but helped me with my budget.
For example, I had broad beans and peas for my mozzarella salad, but only used peas for the new potato dish, dividing my 160g bag between the two recipes. I splashed out on the mozzarella (£4). For a dish where it is the centerpiece, I think it needs to be the best quality. However, I only bought one, as oppose to the four called for in the recipe, and divided it between four small boxes. A whole ball of mozzarella per person, along with everything else was perhaps too much.
Asparagus is in season at the moment which makes it particularly delicious, and good value. The samphire might have been a bit more costly, but I turned on the charm and bargained the market vendor down. Always worth a try! Instead of poaching the eggs for the new potatoes, I boiled them, keeping the yolk runny. I could transport the cooked eggs without worry, and I only used two, half an oozy egg in each box.
Always one for experimenting, I found some beautiful leaves in a vegetable shop at Borough Market which strongly resembled the flavour of pea shoots and had little pink flowers. Alas, nobody working there could tell me what they were and I have yet to find out. That is what you see in these photos.
I used one of my favourite recipes here -soda bread, which can also be made into little soda scones. The bread recipe will give you at least 20 small scones. You can see the recipe for Asparagus & Lemon Soda Scones here on my blog. Some olive oil for dipping, or even better, truffle oil is the only addition needed.
The carrots were a real wow factor, everyone picking a carrot from the stems and dipping into the beetroot and mint yogurt. Cook, stems wrapped in foil about 7 minutes, ensuring they retained some crunch. Mix 150g of greek yogurt, 1/2 a raw grated beetroot, 5-7 shredded mint leaves, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt.
My tips for making a quirky picnic are to opt for recipes which have some ingredients that overlap. Similarly, recipes which showcase simple ingredients in a really special way will make for a fantastic picnic basket. Don’t be afraid to try something different! Make friends with the recipe you are working from, as opposed to being intimidated by it. If, like me, you are working from a budget, assess where you can make slight alterations. Simply be mindful of respecting the core requirements of the recipe. And most of all, have fun!
Blog post & photography by Tastyribbons
What are your top tips for hosting a picnic on a budget? Which dishes are the biggest hits with your friends and family?