July 7, 2017  -  Vol. IX No. 14
Picnic-Friendly  Mediterranean Foods

It’s time to roll out the picnic blanket! Savor the extra daylight hours and improve your well-being by taking your meals outside this summer. Dining and cooking al fresco is a fun way to get out of the house and explore someplace new, and picnics can feel like a grand adventure with the simplest of snacks. Eating outdoors is also a big part of the Mediterranean culture. A mild climate and high value placed on fresh, seasonal produce in the Mediterranean lends itself to preparing and eating food under the sky for much of the year. 

Picnics are also an excuse to gather with family and friends in a casual setting. Without distractions from home, it’s much easier to savor your meal, the fresh air, and the company of others. Enjoying the pleasures of food and drink with others is one of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet. Why not take it a step further and pack Mediterranean-themed food too? 

Picnic foods should be simple, easy to eat, and not-too-heavy (since picnics usually go hand in hand with extra activities like swimming, hiking, or chasing little ones). There are plenty of carefree Mediterranean dishes that meet these requirements, and that pack a flavor punch too. 

Here are a few Mediterranean-themed picnic ideas to carry you through the next few weeks of summer:

Moroccan Medley

  • Couscous (preferably whole grain)
  • Fish kabobs – choose a firm, white fish that won’t fall apart on the grill
  • Chermoula - a blend of herbs and spices, oil, and lemon juice; use it as a marinade for the fish, and reserve some for topping
  • Carrot salad
  • Dates for dessert

Provençal Lunch

  • Tapenade – a popular salty spread made with olives, capers, anchovies, and fresh herbs
  • Soft goat cheese (chèvre in French)
  • Crusty whole wheat bread
  • Salad Niçoise – a colorful salad made with potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and tuna - and any other additions!
  • Grapes for dessert

Weeknight Italian 

  • Zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers alla scapece – from the Spanish “escabeche,” scapece refers to vegetables roasted and marinated in vinegar and extra virgin olive oil 
  • Tuna sandwiches
  • Olives
  • Walnuts

Grilled Greek

  • Grilled chicken 
  • Tzatziki – a cool and refreshing mix of cucumbers and yogurt
  • Grilled zucchini and eggplant slices
  • Whole wheat pita
  • Watermelon, feta, and mint salad

Spanish Small Bites

  • Spinach and garbanzo bean salad
  • Grilled shrimp skewers
  • Tortilla Española – a pan-fried egg and potato cake that travels well
  • Olives
  • Cheese
  • Almonds

Middle Eastern Mezze

  • Hummus 
  • Fresh cut vegetables
  • Whole wheat pita
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Olives
  • Apricots for dessert

If you wish, add wine to each of these menus. Whether you pack a picnic for the beach, the neighborhood park, or your own backyard, there’s nothing like toasting to a delicious meal in the great outdoors. (Before you go: check the rules and regulations of public beaches and parks; some have limits on alcohol and glass). 

Find even more picnic-ready recipes below. Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipes.


Mediterranean Tuna Sandwich 

Enjoy this sandwich with a few of our favorite picnic snacks: mixed green olives, Kalamata olives, Castelvetrano olives, blue cheese, and mixed nuts.

Recipe and photo courtesy of FOODMatch.

Hummus with Pine Nuts, Marjoram and EVOO

This flavorful hummus is perfect for packing on picnics. Use it as a dip for pita bread and cut vegetables, spread it on sandwiches, or spoon it straight out of the container. It's that good!

Recipe and photo courtesy of GAEA.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs

This dish is satisfying and high in protein, thanks to whole grains (bulgur) and chickpeas. It’s a perfect side dish for a summer picnic; serve it with grilled vegetables and fish. 

An Oldways recipe and photo.

Remind yourself what a healthy and delicious Mediterranean diet looks like each and every time you open the refrigerator!

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Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.