How to put on a splendid gluten free picnic spread

Wishing you a very happy National Picnic Week from Honeybuns gluten free bakery, here in very sunny Dorset.

To quote the gourmand Ratty and Mole (Wind in the Willows) as they lay out their picnic feast,

‘What’s inside it?’ asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity. ‘There’s cold chicken inside it,’ replied the Rat briefly; ‘cold tongue, cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkins, salad, french rolls, cress sandwiches, potted meat, ginger beer, lemonade, soda water—’

‘O stop, stop,’ cried the Mole in ecstasies: ‘This is too much!’ ‘Do you really think so?’ enquired the Rat seriously. ‘It’s only what I always take on these little excursions.’

Picnics, with all the food and drinks laid out, look sumptuous and with relatively little effort.

I’ve collated some really quick, easy and delicious gluten free recipes which lend themselves beautifully to the art of picnicking. Look no further for scrumptious sweet and savoury ideas. All recipes are gluten free and vegetarian and I have included faff free dairy free and vegan options as well.

Snacks and light bites plus cute little cake-lets are perfect to share with friends and family and make a lovely change from the ubiquitous BBQ. Why not set out some deckchairs, get the paddling pool set up and picnic away to the Glastonbury highlights this weekend?

Besides fabulous foodie inspiration, remember to check out our top tips section for ideas on seating to drinks and picnic sustainability.

The perfect picnic friendly foods to serve this summer

The recipes we’ve collated for this blog tick the following boxes:

  • Finger food friendly
  • Quick and simple to make
  • Easy to transport (with the help of Tupperware)
  • Mayonnaise free

You can’t go too far wrong with a selection of super-fresh, home made plant based dips. They are easily transportable in Tupperware and can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in the fridge ready for their big day out. Dips are one of our favourite savoury snacking solutions and, when they are freshly home made, they knock shop bought versions right out of the park. All of these dip recipes have been extensively tasted here at Honeybuns and served at our team lunches. All dips have passed the “officially delicious test”.

Best Ever Guacamole recipe

For an easy breezy guacamole simply assemble the following naturally gluten free ingredients:

  • 2 x ripe avocados
  • half red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 x large tomato (half a dozen cherry tomatoes), finely chopped
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • fresh coriander, finely chopped

How to make your guacamole in less than 5 minutes:

– Scoop out your avocado innards into a bowl and mash with a fork.

– If you want a smoother texture you can always blitz all the ingredients in a food processor.

– Add all the other ingredients to the bowl and mix in.

– You can dial up certain flavours by adding more lemon juice, chilli, coriander or pepper – just taste it and adjust accordingly.

More veggie and gluten free dip and tapenade recipes to try:

For the best Homemade Vegan ‘Slaw

Try our super moreish Smoky Aubergine dip

Our easy version of pesto goes with pretty much anything

These recipes and more can be found in our Honeybuns All Day Cook Book.

What should I serve my gluten free picnic dips with?

Each one of our delicious dips calls for a cracking good cracker.

Our dairy free and gluten free crackers are super easy to make and can be baked ahead of your picnic date. Simply store in an airtight tin or freeze them.

Alternatively, just create some crudités using sliced cucumber, celery, courgette, sweet peppers and carrots which can be used to scoop up your dips

Ideas for a picnic friendly main dish

Gluten free frittataWhen I first came up with our seasonal frittata recipe with asparagus and baby spinach I was blissfully unaware of the controversy swirling around the great debate du jour: “What is the difference between a tortilla and a frittata?” I’d always assumed that the deciding factor was the compulsory inclusion of potatoes in the tortilla…..but I then discovered (via online foodie forums) theories ranging from oven temperatures to frying pans. My favourite answer thus far is from Michael Peacock on Quora:

The main difference has to do with where your grandmother is from. If she’s Italian it’s a frittata and if she’s Spanish it’s a tortilla.

In my limited understanding of the two dishes (I really don’t want to offend anybody’s grandmother), a Spanish tortilla must contain both eggs and potatoes, and is frequently just those two ingredients or maybe those and one other, while a frittata can have all sorts of different things as long as it has eggs. The frittata is more about the cooking method and the tortilla is more about eggs and spuds.

I do believe it might be possible to create a dish that satisfies the requirements of both designations at the same time, but you should probably double check with both your grandmothers before you attempt such a thing.

Our frittata recipe is pretty straightforward and would arguably benefit from the addition of sliced pre cooked potatoes to the mixture. Not only would they taste delicious but they would also add some sturdiness to your frittata, making easy to transport to your desired picnic site.

I would suggest parboiling some potatoes before slicing them up and frying them off in a pan with a good glug of olive oil. I would add a pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper as well. The seasoned, fried potatoes can then stay in the pan and you can pour your frittata mixture over the top of them.

And what would you suggest for sweet picnic treats?

Again, being easy to eat and transport are key considerations when deciding what to bake for a stress free picnic. Our beautifully flavoured gluten free, vegan and dairy free raspberry oat bar recipe taste of summer. Ideal for freezing ahead of time, these tray bake beauties will help you prep ahead.

They are fun and easy to make and the kids will enjoy helping out. You can jazz things up by drizzling them with vegan chocolate and mini meringue pieces for an Eton mess vibe.

A favourite fruity cake recipe from our Honeybuns All Day Cook Book makes 12 deliciously light, fruity and moist mini cakes. There are lots of ingredients swap suggestions too. You can experiment with different seasonal and dried fruits as well as using your own preferred gluten free flour(s).

As with the raspberry flapjacks, you can make and freeze these treats ahead of time. If you pack fresh fruit and flowers in a separate Tupperware box you can decorate the cakes once your arrive at your chosen picnic spot.

For ready to eat cakes, flapjacks and brownies, all of which are gluten free- just head over to our online shop. Perfect if you don’t have the time to bake from scratch and you can choose oat free, soy free, dairy free and palm oil free cakes too.

Top Tips for creating the perfectly imperfect British picnic experience

With our capricious British weather it’s probably best to brace for unexpected showers, gusts of wind and (or) intense bursts of heat and sunshine. Keeping a sense of humour when faced with a field of inquisitive young bullocks also helps….

Choosing a picnic site would involve establishing that you are not:

– trespassing

– in the close proximity of curious livestock

– in the middle of/near a mountain bike trail or similar.

My family and I have unintentionally ticked each of the above…..

Ideally your picnic site will instead offer:

  • both sunshine and shade
  • shelter from wind and rain
  • a lovely view
  • a reasonably level surface

Tips for picnic parasols

For shade why not try lightweight parasols and stands? Supermarkets sell cheap, lightweight beach type parasols which can be stuck in softer ground or into a base filled with sand.

Alternatively, wind breaks can be used in the correct position to shade you from sun, light drizzle and wind. These can be bought cheaply online and from supermarkets.

Best Picnic seating solutions

For a comfortable seating experience folding camping chairs are great, especially if any picnic attendees have mobility issues. Try Mountain Warehouse – they always seem to have a sale on! For sitting on the floor, a picnic blanket is de rigeur and I’m loving the new Mrs Hinch range of floor cushions from Tescos in grey and white at the moment.

A word on picnic sustainability

The food we’ve recommended can be eaten without cutlery. Using reuseable plastic plates keeps your basket lightweight and they will be more robust than china. Proper cloth napkins are great for mopping up spillages and dusting off crumbs and are more sustainable than using disposable ones.

Plastic glasses now come in all sorts of jewel like colours and resemble ornate mediaeval goblets. Check out the Habitat range at Sainsburys. Again, with these plastic glasses being washable and reuseable they are a sensible investment and less wasteful that their disposable counterparts. There are also loads of eco picnic cups available, we like these jewel coloured tumblers.

Perfect Picnic Drinks

Again, cans are great. There is no faffing around with jugs. You can just decant from the can into your afore mentioned picnic goblets. Aluminium cans are also easily re cycled. For a posher drink, why not take some sliced Pimms style fruit and veg with you in Tupperware to garnish your drinks?

Cucumber, strawberries, orange segments and fresh mint will all add a bit of Ooooh La La to your picnic beverages.

Nix and Kix do a lovely range of soft drinks with a little kick of added Cayenne. I love their cucumber and mint which would go beautifully with the sliced Pimms fruit and veg idea.

G&Ts in a can are now de rigueur. I’ve seen many a happy group of friends travelling on the train to Wimbledon or some such classic British event with their trusty tinned G&Ts on the table. There are lots of brands out there in the supermarkets. Conker do a lovely range called Gin Juice and are made here in Dorset.

Taking sliced lemon and a cool pack with re useable plastic ice cubes is a good idea.

Don’t forget to check out more of our recipes and you can also find our Honeybuns All Day Cook Book here.

Comment and share what you thought of this blog! Be sure to share this with a friend too! Thanks for reading!

– Emma Goss Custard

If you have any questions, do get in touch via this blog in the comments section, or via facebook, email or telephone.

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