As the weather heats up, picnics offer the perfect outdoor activity for family, friends and foodies alike.

(NAPSI)—As the weather heats up, picnics offer the perfect outdoor activity for family, friends and foodies alike. A meal under the sun provides a picturesque setting to impress loved ones with an on-the-go gourmet feast while making the most of your time outdoors.

Any picnic pro knows that a great meal includes seasonal, easy dishes that celebrate the season without causing extra work or hassle.

For many, packing food for travel and anticipating the heat can put limitations on picnic dishes. Chef Edward Leonard, Certified Master Chef and Le Cordon Bleu executive chef, offers his own picnic pointers to help anyone create the perfect alfresco meal.

“Everyone loves a picnic, but eating the standard sandwich can take the excitement out of it,” said Chef Leonard. “To make the most of your picnic experience, it’s essential to think about featuring seasonal foods that celebrate summer.”

Le Cordon Bleu chef instructors suggest keeping your meal light with plenty of salads and fruit. The chefs recommend making a watermelon and feta salad or creating an heirloom tomato salad with fresh herbs like basil or sage. For protein, focus on meats that are cooked slowly at a low temperature because they tend to keep well. Try cold pulled pork or roast beef. When it comes to side dishes, consider cultured, pasteurized ingredients—like sour cream or Greek yogurt—for the base of any sauces. This will eliminate any issues with using egg-based products that can go bad in the heat.

“Picnics are a great time to try out new seasonal dishes and enjoy fresh, local produce,” said Chef Leonard. “We teach our students to appreciate local ingredients and find the best ways to showcase the flavors.”

Students at Le Cordon Bleu learn the foundational techniques necessary to use their skills and passion to create exceptional dishes. Regardless of your comfort in the kitchen, picnics provide a great opportunity to create flavorful dishes that will make for a memorable meal.

“If you are looking for fresh meal ideas or want to brush up on your cooking skills, I encourage you to attend an enthusiast cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu,” said Chef Leonard. “Our campuses around the country host hands-on classes where foodies can experience a class with a professional instructor.”

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Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint

6 cups watermelon, cubed into 1” squares

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh mint, chopped

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

¾ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

2 oz. feta cheese, sliced into 1 inch by ¼ inch rectangles

1 Tbsp white balsamic (or rice wine) vinegar

1 Tbsp olive oil

Juice and zest of 1 lime

Dash of Tabasco

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Combine the watermelon, olives, feta and herbs and mix together lightly. Whisk up the remaining in?gredients in a small bowl for the dressing and set aside. Dress this dish just before serving and lightly toss.

Peach and Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe

2 peaches, pitted and sliced

2 large heirloom tomatoes

4 Tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. lemon juice

3 tsp. balsamic vinegar

½ tsp. fresh thyme

Goat cheese, to taste

In a small bowl, combine oil, salt, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and thyme to create the vinaigrette. In an airtight container, assemble peaches and tomatoes and crumble goat cheese over the top. Drizzle with vinaigrette.


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