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5 Dishes Built for Weekend Picnics

June 28, 2014

5 Dishes Built for Weekend Picnics

June 28, 2014

For summertime meals on the go, think beyond the sandwich. Anything that can be served cold or at room temperature has picnic potential.

Related: Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family

Chilled Spanish-Style Tomato Soup

Pack a flask of this easy, make-ahead soup and bring along a variety of toppings.

Watch how to make this delicious soup.

2 1/2 pounds tomatoes
1 small clove garlic, smashed
3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Assorted accompaniments, such as chopped hard-cooked eggs, tuna in olive oil, sliced ham or prosciutto, Spanish olives, Marcona almonds, manchego cheese, and crackers

1. Make a 1/4-inch-deep X in bottom of each tomato with the tip of a paring knife, then core. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch tomatoes 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water and let stand until cool. Drain; peel and quarter tomatoes.

2. Transfer tomatoes to a blender along with garlic, bread, almonds, vinegar, and oil. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Serve soup with accompaniments.

Related: 22 Chicken Dinner Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes

Skirt Steak and Corn with Chimichurri

Quick to make and very tasty, this Argentine-inspired main requires just a few ingredients and gives great results. For a picnic, make the chimichurri and put it in a lidded container with a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidization.

Watch how to make this quick dinner.

Cook’s Note
The steak and corn can be grilled up to a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator, in separate containers; serve them cold or at room temperature. The chimichurri can also be made up to a day ahead; store it in the refrigerator, in a jar with a thin layer of olive oil on top. Shake to combine before serving, at room temperature.

1 1/4 pounds skirt steak, room temperature, cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ears corn, husks and silk removed, cut into quarters
1/3 cup packed finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup packed finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic (from 1 small clove)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Baguette, sliced into 2-inch pieces, for serving

1. Preheat grill for direct heat. Season steak with salt and pepper. Grill, flipping once, until charred in spots, 4 to 6 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board; let stand 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, grill corn, turning a few times, until blistered in spots and crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

3. Stir together herbs, garlic, oil, and vinegar in a bowl; season chimichurri with salt and pepper. Thinly slice steak against the grain. Serve with corn, chimichurri, and baguette slices.

Related: 47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen

Grilled Ratatouille and Bulgur Salad

This toss-together vegetarian salad is an easygoing dish. It can be made and refrigerated up to two days before using. Add the basil and croutons just before you set off on the picnic.

1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 large onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 medium tomatoes, halved crosswise
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups cooked bulgur or couscous (from 1 cup dry)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/2 baguette, halved lengthwise
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (from 1 bunch)

1. Preheat grill for direct heat. Brush eggplant, zucchini, squash, onion, and tomatoes with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill, flipping once, until lightly charred and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Place bulgur in a container, and pour vegetables and accumulated juices on top. Sprinkle with lemon juice and drizzle with oil. (Store in refrigerator up to 2 days; let come to room temperature before serving.)

2. Brush both sides of baguette with oil. Grill, flipping once, until edges are crisp and charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Rub top of bread with garlic; cut into 1/2-inch croutons. (Store at room temperature up to 2 days.) Top salad with basil and croutons before serving.

Related: 19 Easy Barbecue Recipes to Make This Season

Roast Chicken with Broiled-Vegetable-and-Bread Salad

If you think fried chicken makes a picnic, try this delicious — and easier to make — option, a hearty salad inspired by the famous chicken and bread salad at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.

1 whole chicken (3 1/4 to 3 1/2 pounds)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
6 fresh thyme sprigs
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
4 slices (2 inches thick) rustic Italian bread (about 1/2 loaf)
1 garlic clove, halved
2 small eggplants or 4 Japanese eggplants (1 1/2 pounds), sliced into 1 1/2-inch wedges
2 red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise and seeded
3 large Swiss chard leaves, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces (3 cups)

1. Sprinkle chicken with 1 tablespoon salt, and season with pepper. Stuff thyme under skin of breast and thighs and in cavity. Let chicken stand at least 1 hour (or refrigerate up to 24 hours, and bring to room temperature) before roasting.

2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place a baking dish or ovenproof skillet just large enough to fit chicken in oven 5 minutes. Pat chicken dry, then place breast side up in hot baking dish. Roast, rotating dish and basting once, until skin is golden and chicken is 160 degrees in the thickest part of thigh, 40 to 45 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes, then carve.

3. Skim fat from juices in baking dish. Pour remaining juices (about 2 tablespoons) into a measuring cup; add oil to come to 1/4 cup. Whisk in lemon juice and vinegar. Add capers and 1 teaspoon salt; season with pepper.

4. Preheat broiler. Drizzle bread slices with oil. Toast until browned on both sides. While warm, rub with cut sides of garlic. Tear into bite-size pieces, and place in a bowl. Drizzle eggplant and peppers with oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread onto 2 rimmed baking sheets; broil about 8 inches from heat source until browned and tender, 10 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Cut into bite-size pieces, and add to bowl. Add Swiss chard, toss all together, pour on three-quarters of the dressing, and toss again. Transfer to a platter, and top with chicken. Serve remaining dressing on the side.

Tortilla Espanola with Romesco Sauce

Cut thick wedges of this Spanish-style, potato-zucchini tortilla for a hearty vegetarian main. Bring a container of the rich romesco sauce in your picnic basket.

Tortilla
1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6), scrubbed and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 large Spanish onion (about 1 pound), sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
10 large eggs
1 cup finely grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Romesco
1/5 cup blanched almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic
1 jar (10 ounces) roasted piquillo peppers, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1. Tortilla: Toss zucchini with salt in a colander set over a bowl. Let drain at least 30 minutes, pressing on zucchini a few times to remove excess moisture.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 cup oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add potatoes and onion; reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until potatoes are tender but not taking on any color, 30 to 35 minutes. Add zucchini and cook, stirring a few times, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Transfer potato mixture to colander and let drain 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and basil in a large bowl, then stir in potato mixture.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wipe skillet clean, making sure to remove any browned bits. Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add egg mixture and reduce heat to low. Cook, running a flexible spatula around sides occasionally to prevent eggs from sticking, until edges begin to set, about 10 minutes.

5. Transfer to oven and bake until center is set and edges are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.

6. Run a paring knife around edge of tortilla to loosen, then invert onto a wire rack. Using a large spatula or a second wire rack, flip tortilla back over and let cool completely, about 1 hour, before cutting into wedges.

7. Romesco: Pulse almonds and garlic in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add peppers, oil, and vinegar; puree until smooth. Store in refrigerator, covered, until ready to serve, up to 1 day; dollop onto tortilla wedges.

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