It’s pleasantly warm and breezy, that perfect weather for a picnic. So why not head outdoors for that lovely time in the sun with your family and a basket of yummy goodies in hand?

Before you grab your picnic mat and start packing, be sure to give these recipes a try. Takeaways can’t beat these nine home-cooked wonders; complete your picnic with our excellent trio of dips too. 

Finger food recipes: Kebabs, asparagus with parma ham wrap and stuffed mushrooms

Three finger food recipes: Chicken kebabs, asparagus with parma ham wrap,
portobello mushrooms stuffed with brown rice and vegetables.

1. CHICKEN KEBABS
by The Garden Slug

Craving for some spicy finger food? They’re easy to make and you’ll keep reaching for more. This recipe makes eight sticks. 

INGREDIENTS
2 large chicken breasts, deboned
For the marinade
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red chilli, chopped (optional)
4 lime leaves, shredded
1 lemongrass, finely chopped
¼ cup orange juice
½ tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
¼ tbsp chilli powder (optional)
¼ onion, cut into quarters
1 red capsicum, cut into squares
1 green capsicum, cut into squares
1 yellow capsicum, cut into squares
3 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut each chicken breast into 12 2.5cm cubes.
  2. Blend all the marinade ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Spear three cubes of chicken onto a skewer, alternating them with an onion and three capsicum pieces of different colours.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a heated pan, and grill the kebabs for 21/2min on each side. 

2. ASPARAGUS WITH PARMA HAM WRAP
by Thomas Chiam, chef-owner of Friends The Food and Wine People, www.friendsfoodandwine.com.

These are so easy to make and they’ll make these greens more appetising to your kids. Get your children to help out with the picnic preparation and have some fun bonding over these veg and meat wraps. Makes eight.  

INGREDIENTS
24 baby asparagus, trimmed
8 slices parma ham 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 1min.
  2. Wrap the asparagus in bundles of three with the parma ham. Keep chilled.


3. PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH BROWN RICE AND VEGETABLES

by The Garden Slug

After your kids have had their fill of running around the park, they’ll be hungry for their carbs. This recipe makes eight. 

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp butter
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery, chopped
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 cup cooked brown rice
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp chopped parsley
8 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 tbsp olive oil 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt the butter in a heated saucepan. Before it browns, add the carrots and celery and stir fry for 2min.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs and saute for 1min, until they turn a light brown.
  3. Add the brown rice and toss for 3min. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and mix in the parsley. Remove from heat and cool for 10min.
  4. Stuff each portobello mushroom tightly with the rice mixture, making sure to level out the stuffing.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Over medium heat, grill the portobello mushrooms for 2min on each side, stuffing side down first.


packpicnic_4-5lemonadelasagne.jpg4. PINK LEMONADE

by Sunita Shahdadpuri, contributing editor of Simply Her

You’ll want some cool drinks to go with your food, especially when you’re in the warm outdoors. What better to bring along than this thirst-quenching lemonade drink? Serves four. 

INGREDIENTS
1 cup sugar
200ml hot water
1 litre cool water
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup cranberry juice
4 cups ice
1 cup raspberries 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water.
  2. Add the cool water, lemon juice and cranberry juice to the sugar mixture.
  3. To serve, add ice to the lemonade and drop a few raspberries into each cup.

On the left: Pink lemonade and beef lasagne.

5. BEFF LASAGNE
by Khng Ming Earn, executive chef of Purple Sage, www.purplesage.com.sg.

Who says that a picnic’s limited to just finger food? Have a hearty meal in the park with plates of lasagne. Serves four to six. 

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
600g minced beef
400ml pasta sauce
1 cup red wine
A pinch of salt
200ml chicken stock
A pinch of sugar 

For the bechamel cheese sauce
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp all-purpose flour
5 cups milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Edam cheese
½ cup chopped parsley
Sea salt, to taste
9 lasagne sheets, cooked till al dente and drained
500g grated mozzarella cheese 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions and stir-fry them for 3min. Add the beef and cook for 10min.
  2. Add the pasta sauce, red wine, salt and chicken stock. Simmer uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 30min.
  3. Mix in the sugar until it dissolves and remove from heat. Set aside the beef mixture.
  4. To make the bechamel cheese sauce, heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the onions and coo for 3min, until they caramelise. Stir in the flour and whisk in the milk.
  5. When the mixture bubbles, add the cheddar and Edam cheeses, parsley and sea salt.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
  7. Butter a large baking dish. Spread a layer of bechamel cheese sauce on the base of the dish and cover it with 3 lasagne sheets.
  8. Add a layer of beef mixture and top with 3 tbsp of mozzarella cheese.
  9. Repeat with another layer, in the same order.
  10. Add the final layer of 3 lasagne sheets and top with the remaining bechamel cheese sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  11. Bake for 20min, until golden brown. Leave to cool before packing.

6. SALTED FUDGE BROWNIES
by Selena Vera Hey, features writer of Simply Her

No picnic is complete without sweet treats like these brownies. The only problem? Family members with that sweet tooth may want more. This recipe makes 16 pieces. 

packpicnic_6saltedbrownies.jpg

INGREDIENTS
250g unsweetened dark chocolate, finely chopped
180g unsalted butter
225g brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa
½ tsp sea salt 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 deg C.
  2. Grease and line the base and sides of a 9-inch baking pan with baking parchment.
  3. In a microwave oven, or over a pot of simmering hot water, melt the chocolate and butter in a large bowl. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir the brown sugar, then the eggs, into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Combine the flour, cocoa and sea salt in a separate bowl and add to the chocolate mixture.
  6. Stir until smooth.
  7. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 30min until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. Cool at room temperature for 30min. Remove brownies from the baking parchment and cut into 16 pieces.

 

7. FRITTATA
by Sunita Shahdadpuri, contributing editor of Simply Her

packpicnic_7frittata.jpgThis close cousin of the quiche will make a cheery addition to your basket. The egg-based dish  can be matched with your bread and salads too. Serves four to six. 

INGREDIENTS
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup chopped spring onions
5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, butter, salt and pepper.
  3. Pour into a greased baking dish and sprinkle with the spring onions, bacon and cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered for 25-30min or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

 

8. VIETNAMESE VERMICELLI
by Jeremy Cheok, chef of Jam Private Dining, www.oooh-jam.com
.

Instead of your usual potato salad, try this Asian vermicelli; fans of dishes with that tangy flavour will love this recipe. Serves four. 

INGREDIENTS
For the dressing
½ cup fish sauce
½ cup water
½ cup lime juice
¼ cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, bruised
1 chilli padi
A dash of white pepper
A pinch of sea salt
500g thick rice vermicelli
½ carrot, julienned
½ Japanese cucumber, julienned
A handful of fresh Thai basil, coriander and mint leaves
8 prawns, shelled and deveined (optional)
½ cup snow peas, cut into pieces (optional)
4 tbsp lemon zest
4 tbsp crushed peanuts 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the rice vermicelli in boiling water for 30 seconds. Rinse under tap water and drain.
  3. At the picnic, combine the rice vermicelli with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle dressing over the noodles.

 

9. CHICKEN TOFU BURGER
by Simone Wu, beauty editor of Simply Her

packpicnic_9chicktofuburg.jpgIt’s a healthier alternative to those greasy, cheese-laden burgers. Their petite size are picnic-friendly too. This recipe makes eight. 

INGREDIENTS
For the patty
400g minced chicken
2 tau kwa, chopped
3 tbsp plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
½ onion, finely chopped
1 tsp soya sauce
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ lettuce
1 large tomato, sliced
8 mini buns, halved
Honey mustard 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the patty in a large bowl. Take a handful of chicken mixture and form a palm-sized patty. Repeat for the rest of the mixture.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Cook the patties over medium heat, for 5min on each side. Remove from heat, leave to cool and pack them into a container.
  3. At the picnic, place a chicken patty, lettuce and tomato slice between two bun halves. Top with honey mustard.

 

10. TRIO OF DIPS*
Make your finger food all the more tantalising with The Garden Slug’s three recipes for dips.

Tip: Keep the dips cool in a cooler box and serve with carrot and cucumber sticks, pita bread, water crackers or unsalted tortilla chips. These dip recipes serve four.

packpicnic_10-12dips.jpg

CHUNKY EGG, ROASTED CARROT & MUSTARD DIP
INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil
½ carrot, peeled and chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp mustard
4 tbsp low-fat plain yogurt
½ tsp fine sugar
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
  2. Brush the olive oil over the carrots and bake for 20min.
  3. Puree the cooled carrots in a food processor.
  4. Mix the pureed carrots, eggs, mustard, yogurt, sugar, black pepper and sea salt.


SUN-DRIED TOMATO & FETA DIP

INGREDIENTS

1 jar sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil
A handful of fresh basil leaves, stems removed
200g feta cheese, drained
1 jar (about 340g) marinated
artichoke hearts, drained
1 tbsp capers
4 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set aside 6 tbsp of oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes. Drain away the remaining oil.
  2. Place the reserved oil and all the ingredients in a food processor and blend for 2min.


BABA GANOUSH (MIDDLE EASTERN EGGPLANT DIP)

INGREDIENTS

3 medium-sized eggplants
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
4 cloves garlic
Juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chilli powder (optional) 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 120 deg C.
  2. Rub the eggplants with the olive oil and roast them for 40min.
  3. Plunge the cooked eggplants in cold water. Peel away the skins and set aside the flesh.
  4. Blend the eggplant, tahini, garlic and lemon juice in the food processor until smooth.
  5. Add the sea salt, black pepper and chilli powder. Mix well and chill.

 

RECOMMENDED PICNIC SPOTS IN SINGAPORE

  • The well-loved: Singapore Botanic Gardens, East Coast Park and Sentosa.
  • New favourite: The Promontory @ Marina Bay, 11 Marina Blvd  Singapore 018940. Centrally located, this spot is perfect for an urban picnic with a waterfront view. Choose to fly kites in this open field or ride your bikes around the promontory in the early mornings or late afternoons.
  • Most natural: Sengkang Riverside Park. This park is large; half of the park is a constructed wetland with lots of fruit trees – great for an after-picnic walk.
  • Hidden gem: Woodslands Waterfront. The well-groomed lawns of this park makes it easy to find good picnic spots. Be sure to time your picnic for the amazing sunset; the huge playground will keep the children happily occupied until then.

*All ingredients for the dips are available from Cold Storage.

The Garden Slug is a diner located at 55 Lorong Telok Kurau, #01-59/61 Bright Centre, Singapore 425500, tel: 6346-0504, opening hours: 6pm-10pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, 10am-10pm Wednesdays and Thursday, 9am-10pm on Friday to Sundays and public holidays. Visit their website for more information.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer June 2011.