If you crave being outdoors at this time of year (who wouldn’t) then a picnic is absolutely the best way to spend your weekend. Usually let down by soggy sandwiches and stodgy sausage rolls. With this guide you can sit back, relax in the sun and enjoy some beautiful food without the hassle. What could be better? Obviously, Italians have picnics finely worked out (as they usually do with anything that involves food); grazing is the name of the game, and there’s no need to limit yourself culinary finesse and exploration to meat wrapped in bread. Here’s our how-to guide to picnicking - Italian style.
Charcuterie - Perfect for picking on throughout the day, or bring some Sundried tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts and Crema di Pecorino and make this the center of the meal! We recommend Prosciutto Toscano, Finocchiona fennel salami and Beef Bresaola (you can add a touch of class to the Bresaola with a rocket salad, Lemon Oil and Parmesan shavings, the easiest Carpaccio in the world). Take some Sardinian Olive oil, salt and pepper and good quality bread and you’re sorted! You’ll need about 300g of meat for 4 people.
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Pesto and Smoked Sheep Ricotta- make this one the day before, it works wonders as an elegant salad. Grill sliced Aubergine and Courgette. Slice the Smoked Sheep Ricotta into halloumi-sized pieces and fry for a few seconds in a hot griddle pan. In a large Tupperware combine both and sir through enough Pesto Genovese that all the veg is coated (all a little olive oil too if needs be. The Ricotta will crumble through, leaving a brilliantly elegant summer picnic salad!
Tuscan Fennel Sausage with Lemon and Pecorino Fregola Sarda- Our famous Fregola Sarda (which is a pasta shaped like giant cous-cous) is an absolute hit in summer. Simply open up a few Fennel Sausage and pan fry on a low heat while you’re boiling the pasta. Reserve a cup of the boiling water and add along with the drained pasta back in the pan, generously drizzle over Lemon Oil, add the sausage and plenty of grated Pecorino Rosso, stir until creamy and finish with fresh parsley. This one is a guaranteed hit on the day, just add a little more oil to loosen the pasta on the day and your main dish is sorted!
Cheese- Cheese can be daunting to bring on a picnic as you have to take it from the fridge into the heat which can mess with it slightly. We recommend using a cool bag, but if you don’t have one then try to eat your cheese as soon as you can and choose harder cheeses to avoid melting. However, the beauty of the board is that it takes no preparation! Bring a Pecorino Sardo with Truffle Honey, a Red Ale Toma and Fig Marmalade and a Gorgonzola Naturale with Mosto D’Uva as well as some music paper bread and dig in!
Nougat, Cantucci & Vin Santo- No picnic is complete without dessert, but there’s no need to be complicated, or take something that’s going to spoil in the sun. Stick with our beautiful Soft Nougat in summery flavours like Lemon or Strawberry and some indulgent Chocolate, Almond or Apricot Cantucci and enjoy them like the Italians do dipped in Vin Santo dessert wine.
Wine- A picnic is a perfect excuse to enjoy a few bottles of wine in the sunshine. Vaporetto Prosecco is a perfect place to start, dry and sophisticated, its perfect for a summer celebration. White wine is also a must in the summer months and we recommend a dry, mineral Marmora Vermentina di Sardegna, crisp and refreshing with your first couple of courses. If red is more your speed (its also easier to transport as it doesn’t need to be kept as cold) we would recommend a lighter one, and Chianti is the king of summer reds. Our Selvapiana Chianti Rufina is rich with dark fruit and spice but isn’t too heavy on a summer’s day.
The final rule for a picnic Italian style is to relax and have a great time! Enjoy La Dolce Vita!