23 French-Inspired Recipes That You Can Pack for a Picnic
What is it about eating outside on a blanket or park bench that just feels so Parisian? Of course, it’s even better if you are simply-but-impeccably dressed, lounging by a river or stream of some kind (think the banks of the Seine), and serving a delicious meal out of a French market tote or picnic basket. While we can’t exactly transport you to Paris or give you a makeover, we can help ensure your picnic basket is perfectly packed. These 23 recipes will get you well on your way.
The beauty of this lentil salad is that it’s versatile enough to be served warm, cold, or at room temperature. Thanks to the rosemary, sage, and parsley, this salad is packed with flavor that only gets better as it sits.
Ideal served on either baguette slices or with your favorite crudités, this tapenade is simple to make, but has more complex flavors than you might recognize at first glance. The secret is lemon zest, which makes everything better and brighter.
You really can’t beat a classic when the classic you’re talking about is salad Niçoise. The combination of fresh greens, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, and tuna all served cold with sliced hard-boiled eggs is the perfect fancy picnic food.
Let’s be honest — there’s no wrong time to eat cheese gougères. The only question is will you bake them in large roll-sized portions so you can use them as the “bread” for your sandwiches, or will you make them smaller and serve them alongside your favorite lentil salad?
Savory quick breads make a perfect breakfast food, but they are also infinitely portable and easy to pack for a picnic. We’d recommend pre-slicing them so you don’t have to worry about carrying a sharp knife in your picnic bag.
If you aren’t familiar with barigoule, it’s a white wine-stewed artichoke dish from Provence, and it’s a perfect tartine topping for a picnic. Make the stewed artichokes ahead of time, and bring your favorite sliced bread to assemble them at the picnic.
We’re firmly of the belief that picnic food should be simple and made from the best ingredients. So head to your local French bakery to pick out a baguette, make fresh pesto, and use those farmers market eggs to make the hard-boiled ones this recipe calls for. You won’t be disappointed.
You can’t really bring individual bowls of French onion soup to a picnic, but these grilled sandwiches are the next best thing. Make them as close to picnic time as possible so they stay fresh (and maybe even a little warm). But don’t worry about that too much — even at room temperature they will be delicious.
The salty Kalamata olives in this salad are perfectly offset by the watery crunch of the cucumber and the freshness of the mint. We’d recommend making a double batch — you’ll definitely want leftovers.
Dipping radishes in butter with a bit of flaky sea salt is a perfectly traditional picnic snack. This delightful recipe takes the idea one step further and combines the radish, butter, and salt, making it the perfect creamy dip to slather on toast, romaine leaves, or endive.
This vegetable pie just begs to be enjoyed with a simple glass of white wine and a light side salad. It’s reminiscent of a crustless quiche, but with more ricotta. We’ll take it.
No French picnic would be complete without a baguette. If you want to try your hand at making your own, it’s all in the shaping. You can use your favorite bread recipe, and just follow this shaping tutorial.
How do you take quinoa salad and make it undeniably French? Add radishes. The crispy, peppery veggies are a must-have, and the spring microgreens are a fresh and playful final flourish.
Green beans are another classic French ingredient. This lemony version, topped with crunchy almonds, is a delightfully light take on what can sometimes be a delicious-yet-heavy dish.
Every picnic should include dessert — at least that’s one of our rules this summer. And if you’re hosting a French-themed picnic, palmiers are a perfect choice. Made from puff pastry, they look much more difficult to make than they actually are, and you can always add your own twist like candied ginger or lemon zest.
No French picnic would be complete without a green salad, and this version, with the slightly bitter radicchio, is a perfect fit — especially if you are serving it after the main course like the French do. The bitterness is a great palate cleanser.
Once you get the hang of these laminated pastries, they are not hard to make at all; it just takes a bit of patience and practice. Kouign Amann is definitely one of the more impressive recipes you can bring to a picnic.
When in doubt, make a quiche. That’s our rule for French picnics and last-minute dinner parties. They are easy to whip up, have tons of variations, and invariably get gobbled up by everyone.
Don’t skip roasted veggies for your picnic out of fear that they won’t travel well. If you serve them room temperature, they will be just as tasty. And really, lemon-brown butter sauce? How could you resist?
It’s very French to follow your meal with a cheese plate. And really, no picnic would be complete without some sort of cheese. Try any of these three-cheese combinations that you like, or mix and match your favorites. But whatever you do, don’t forget some dried fruits, jams, or chutneys to go along with them.