Summer is just around the corner, and outdoor picnics are sure to make their way into your plans. Of course, you’ll want to pack foods that are light, cooling, and produced-packed (it’s peak season for fresh fruits and veggies, after all).
Fortunately, summertime makes it easy to keep your wellness routine in check. “There are so many great fruits and vegetables available,” writes Harbin Clinic Dietician Marcy Pugliese. “Using these, taking time to plan out meals and snacks, along with some alternative cooking styles can help everyone make healthy choices this summer.”
Looking for recipes that are as light and refreshing as they are sumptuous and satisfying? We reached out to our favorite chefs for their go-to summer picnic recipes. These were their top picks:
By Kevin Templeton, Chef, barleymash
Lentils are a great substitute for any rice or pasta dish. They are healthy, hearty, and full of color and flavor. I make this pilaf as a side dish to bring to backyard barbecues with friends and family in the summer.
- 3 Tbsp. coconut oil (divided)
- 3 Tbsp. minced shallots
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup lentils, any color
- ¼ cup chopped cauliflower
- ¼ cup chopped carrots
- ¼ cup chopped onions
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- Salt and pepper, for taste
- Heat 1 Tbsp. coconut oil in a saucepan and stir in shallots. Sauté shallots until they are a nice golden brown.
- Add stock (chicken or veggie) and bring to a boil.
- Stir in lentils and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until lentils are tender but not too soft. Pro-tip: different types of lentils take different amounts of time to cook, so be sure to check the packaging instructions or online.
- Drain excess liquid and set aside.
- Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Stir in cauliflower, carrots, onions and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender.
- Add lentils, and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in butter (optional).
2. Elote Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad
By Stephanie Harris-Uyidi, Chef/Founder, The Posh Pescetarian
I like to mix things up in the kitchen, especially during the summer. That’s why I created this Elote Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad recipe.
When the warm weather rolls around, I like to focus on making dishes that contain high-quality ingredients and are quick and easy to make. This recipe takes about 10 minutes to assemble and uses frozen prepared roasted corn from Trader Joes. It's simple, delicious, and cost effective.
This dish is light, but still filled with protein, veggies and spices, providing a delicious picnic meal that’s not high in carbohydrates.
- Mix the roasted corn, red onion, cilantro, tomato, zucchini, avocado oil, lime and cotija together.
- Taste for seasoning – the cotija can be a little salty, so now is your time to decide on the amount of salt to add. Add salt and pepper as desired.
- Add to a serving bowl and drizzle Mexican cream on top for garnish.
By Heloise Blause, Founder, Home Kitchen Land
I love these spring rolls, because they’re really easy to prepare and taste amazing. Plus, they’re super fresh and healthy, which are two things I look for in a summer recipe.
I usually make this recipe exclusively with veggies, but you can add seafood or meat, as you like.
- Rice paper
- Rice vermicelli
- Carrots sticks
- Shrimp (optional)
- First, wet the rice paper to soften it.
- Lay out a lettuce leaf as a base.
- Cover the lettuce leaf with rice vermicelli.
- Add some thin cucumber slices and carrot sticks.
- Add as many mint leaves as you like.
- If desired, top with two or three pieces of shrimp.
- Roll carefully, and repeat.
- Place the spring rolls in the fridge, if you prefer them cold. Otherwise, go ahead, and start snacking!
4. Watermelon Feta Salad “Pizza”
By Katerina Coumbaros, Chef/Owner, Taverna Opa Orlando
This simple recipe is refreshing and ideal for summer. It's the perfect mix of sweet and savory, and the ingredients can easily be added or removed to meet everyone's palate.
Because 92% of a watermelon is water, it’s the perfect fruit for hydrating your body during the hot summer months, especially when outside. When paired with an organic feta cheese, which is packed with vitamin B, you get a flavorful snack that's delicious anytime of day or night.
- Place it in the fridge, if you prefer them cold, otherwise, go ahead and start snacking!
- 5 watermelon slices
- 1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- 6 Kalamata olives, sliced
- 5 mint leaves
- 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze
- On a cutting board, slice the watermelon in half.
- Place the flat side down, and cut a one-inch thick slice, then cut into five slices.
Plate on a round dish, and add feta cheese, olives, mint leaves, and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
5. Colorful 4-Bean Salad
By Toni Okamoto, Founder, Plant-Based on a Budget
Hailing from the Plant-Based on a Budget cookbook, this recipe is a beloved fan favorite! It comes together quickly with minimal effort, it doesn’t require a hot oven in the summer, and it's budget-friendly and healthy to boot.
This colorful 4-Bean Salad relies on fresh plant-based ingredients to make it flavorful, and it's sure to impress your picnic guests.
- 1 15 oz. can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz. can of unsalted corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 large avocado, diced
- ½ cup of diced red onion
- ½ cup of diced tomato
- ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
- 3 to 4 Tbsps. of lemon or lime juice (about 1 small lemon or lime)
- Salt to taste
- In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.
Served the salad chilled or at room temperature.
KOR shots are light, refreshing, and fill you up with the vitamins you need to stay active all summer long. Make KOR a part of your healthy summertime routine. Your body and mind will thank you!