Days at the beach, long hikes into shady woods cooled by running streams and gatherings on the grass in parks set back from the road all cry out for picnic lunches with salty, savory dishes. Each dish should be a treat, a respite from the heat and the exertions of the day.
A cheese sandwich with a good comte or brie with a slice of ham on whole wheat bread or a fresh baguette is a good start. Bring along homemade Moroccan style pickles or kosher dills and a good snack becomes a feast. These days many supermarkets have deli counters selling ready made sandwiches and prepared food that can be basic (salads, meatloaf, baked chicken breast and cold pasta) or elaborate with gourmet ingredients and high prices to match (arugula salads, grilled vegetables, large shrimp with remoulade sauce and baby back ribs with a whiskey glaze).
A little bit of effort--not too much effort because who wants to be in a kitchen when it's hot outside--and the picnic basket can be filled with home cooked dishes that will refresh and delight your friends and family.
For the Fourth of July, a pot-luck picnic is a great way to go. We invite our friends to meet us at 6:00pm at the park across the street from the high school where the fire works explode overhead as soon as the sun sets. In the morning, we lay out plastic tarps to protect against the damp of the ground. Then we spend a few leisurely hours during the day preparing easy-to-make dishes to contribute to the meal that stretches over several hours as we catch up with friends and wait for night to fall.
Super easy, super delicious, beet salad is perfect for picnics.
Use cilantro instead of Italian parsley
In a brown paper bag mix together the flour, sea salt, pepper, rosemary, cayenne (optional), sugar (optional), and onions (optional). Remove one piece of chicken at a time.