My Best Picnic Recipes

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picnic

I am now back in Paris after a couple of weeks’ traveling and visiting family, and I am happy that it still feels very much like summer here in the city, as bronzed Parisians gradually return and many shops and restaurants are still shuttered.

French kids won’t be back in school until early September, and to prolong that summertime feeling, there’s nothing like getting together with friends to find a grassy spot in a park, spread out a big blanket, and ready your plates for a little picnic.

This list highlights my best picnic recipes, favorites from my repertoire that are portable and easy to share. Want to share your own go-to provisions or tips for picnics?

Heatwave-Ready Mint Lemonade

The most important part to getting through the summer heatwaves is hydration, hydration, hydration! Whether you are hiding behind a fan inside or braving it under the sun, this mint lemonade is the perfect refresher.

Mint Lemonade

Olive Oil & Seed Crackers

Impeccably crisp, these homemade crackers pair well with any of your favorite dips; my current obsession is dipping them in homemade muhammara (see below).

Olive Oil and Seed Crackers

Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Bread

A staple of any French picnic, this quick bread (known in French as a cake) is bursting with flavor from fresh herbs and feta cheese. It is also an incredibly versatile recipe, as the base formula can be used with a multitude of ingredients for different flavors.

Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Bread

Muhammara Spread

This Middle Eastern spread is made with freshly roasted red peppers, cashews, and walnuts, and is great spread over a baguette or on crackers (see above!).

Muhammara

Charred Broccoli and Avocado Salad

The trick to this dish is perfectly roasted broccoli — once you have that, you’re good to go. Equally delicious warm or at room temperature, this salad is easy to transport and is great to add an extra dose of green to your picnics.

Charred Broccoli and Avocado Salad

Herbed Couscous Salad

So simple and no cooking required — a nice reprieve on the days where turning on the stove is the last thing you want to do.

Herbed Couscous Salad

Panzanella Salad

The perfect use for day-old artisan bread, late-season tomatoes, and that surfeit of cucumbers going wild in your vegetable garden.

Panzanella

Zucchini Pasta with Almonds and Lemon Zest

I typically make this to eat warm, but I have found it is amazing at room temperature, too, and makes for an easy-to-carry dish highlighting summer squash.

Zucchini Pasta with Almonds and Lemon Zest

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

You simply can’t have a French picnic without packing a few hard-boiled eggs, and there are a few secrets to getting them perfectly cooked, every time.

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Quick Nori Roll with Cucumber and Avocado

A light, refreshing snack filled with vegetables and anything else you may desire. These are super easy to put together, and hold up well as you search for the perfect picnic spot.

Quick Nori Roll with Cucumber and Avocado

Easy Onigiri

When we were traveling in Japan, we often saw school kids on field trips eating their bento boxes at lunchtime and nibbling on their onigiri. They are a breeze to make, and even easier to dole out.

Onigiri

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Be the most popular person at your picnic with these excellent chocolate chip cookies, which you can make the day before if you’d like.

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood!

Hand-crafted mini cutting board from my friend at Earlywood!

Perfect Madeleines

I prefer single-serve dessert for picnics — no knives or plates required — and madeleines are the ideal format. Be sure to pack them in a lidded container to avoid smushing them! 

Perfect Madeleines

Homemade Lärabars

These fruit-and-nut raw bars are the perfect high-energy treat if you’re going to be hiking home after your picnic!

Homemade Lärabars

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Best Eats in Nantes, From a Local

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Buy Clotilde's latest book, The French Market Cookbook!

Daniel Buren et Patrick Bouchain, Les Anneaux, Quai des Antilles, Nantes, création pérenne Estuaire 2007 © Martin Argyroglo/LVAN

Travel season is upon us, and I want to make sure you see and taste the best France has to offer! When it comes to Paris I’ve got you covered, but there are many other cities with exciting and delicious things for you to experience. So I’ve asked a team of French bloggers from different cities to share their favorite spots, and I am offering them to you in this new series.

In Nantes, Stef and Cha recommend…

Stef et Cha Les Ptits BonheursI am delighted to introduce you to our guides to Nantes, locals Stef and Cha. They love Nantes and share their enthusiasm on their blog, Les Ptits Bonheurs à Nantes. The blog is filled with tips, local happenings, and hidden spots in Nantes, which they say illuminates life — small moments of happiness (“petits bonheurs” in French) are essential to daily life!

A market or food shop: The Talensac Market

Marché de Talensac

Talensac is a must-visit for market lovers. A trusted institution for les Nantais, there’s no doubt that you will find what you’re looking for from one of the 150 vendors. Open from Tuesday to Sunday morning, it’s THE place to buy excellent products to take home or to eat on the spot on one of the café terraces that surround the market.

Where to go for sweet eats: La Passagère

Nantes, le passage Pommeraye, galerie commerçante du XIIIe siècle, joyau du patrimoine nantais. © Régis Routier, Ville de Nantes

Le Passage Pommeraye © Régis Routier, Ville de Nantes

A unique tea salon located within the historic Passage Pommeraye, La Passagère is a stylish stop for an afternoon break. The pastries are exquisite, each one better than the one before. You can sample the goods right then and there, or take it to go, choosing among pastries, cakes, chocolates, jams, or even teas from the George Cannon tea house.

Where to get tea or coffee: Le Nid

Le Nid (“The Nest”), located on the 32nd floor of the Tour Bretagne, gives a 360-degree view of the city. It was designed by Jean Jullien, an internationally celebrated graphic artist who is originally from Nantes. Created in June 2012 as the launching point of the “Voyage à Nantes” campaign, le Nid is perfect for grabbing a coffee, an afternoon snack, or getting drinks in the evening, as you enjoy one of the free concerts.

A fun restaurant for dinner with friends: Papy Mougeot

Papy Mougeot Nantes

Papy Mougeot is an great restaurant on the Feydeau island. The eclectic music and wacky décor (a mix between a seventies apartment and your grandfather’s workshop) convey the humor of both the restaurant and the team behind it. It’s a lively bistro that serves a generous, traditional cuisine made with fresh ingredients.

Where to go for an intimate dinner with a date: Pickles

Le Pickles Nantes

Le Pickles is a hidden gem near one of the main streets in Nantes. A reecent discovery of ours, this restaurant is a true stroke of culinary genius. There you’ll taste a modern, market-driven cuisine full of local flavors, with a sprinkle of Asian, Italian, and North African influences. An excellent-value restaurant; don’t miss the beer pairing menu.

Wild Card Spot! Suppli Factory

Suppli Factory Nantes

Healthy Italian fast food in Nantes! This little-known restaurant is quite surprising: it focuses on suppli (a.k.a. arancini), a specialty from Rome and Sicily. They are rice balls coated with crunchy breadcrumbs, deliciously garnished according to the chef’s whims. The service is friendly and kind.

Thanks so much for sharing, Stef and Cha!

You’ll find all these addresses mapped out below:

 

Do you have your own favorite spots in Nantes? We want to hear about them in the comments below! And is there a particular city or area you’d featured in this series in the future?

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Modern Potluck: A Giveaway!

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Modern Potluck

Have you ever been invited to a summer potluck and found yourself with a bad case of the cook’s block and no idea what to bring?

Former Food & Wine editor Kristin Donnelly has just released a cookbook for that very situation: in Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food To Share, she highlights perfectly shareable meals sure to impress at your next gathering.

Modern PotluckI love the book’s emphasis on vegetables and the wide range of flavors, from new twists on deviled eggs, to gracefully constructed salads, to no-noodle lasagna.

Naturally, the photos are gorgeous (the book promises “beautiful food” in its subtitle and it certainly delivers) and there is a handy guide on what makes a perfect potluck, and what dishes may flop.

It wouldn’t do to write a potluck book without having other people contribute, and I’m thrilled to say Kristen features one of my recipes in the book as well.

Even better, Kristin’s (and my) publisher Clarkson Potter is offering to send a free copy of the book to 3 lucky C&Z readers!

To enter, please fill out this form before Tuesday, August 23, midnight Paris time.

I will draw 3 names randomly (if you’re curious this is the service I use), and announce the winners here the next day. Note that the books can be shipped internationally. Good luck to you!

Winners announced! Our three lucky winners are Michele (m******b*****@yahoo.com), Marion (r******m*****@gmail.com), and Adrienne (A****37@comcast.net). Congratulations! You should have received an email with instructions. If you haven’t, check your spam folder, and if it’s not in there, please get in touch.

And to get the party started, I’m happy to share these three preview recipes from the book for you to enjoy! (Click the images to make them bigger.)

Modern Potluck

Modern Potluck

Modern Potluck

Note: Entering this giveaway will also sign you up for the Chocolate & Zucchini newsletter, so I can notify you when I post fresh new recipes, and share exclusive content I create just for my subscribers. You are free to unsubscribe at any time.

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