I love picnics. Though I must admit, I have never really found a picnic book that I adore, completely. Picnics, by Sara Deseran, is one of the best little picnic books. It offers a nice mix of recipes and heaping helpings of picnic advice. There is a list of items to bring to the picnic. How frustrating can it be to arrive at a lovely picnic area and realize that you have no corkscrew?
Deseran adds a menu section in the back of the book. She takes recipes from the book and arranges them into events like a City Picnic, an Elegant Brunch, or a Latin Barbeque. The menus are a nice touch.
I am a huge fan of orzo and it rarely shows up in cookbooks. For my money, it is versatile, easy to use, and downright tasty. Picnics offers up a great orzo salad.
Orzo Salad with Green Olives, Tomatoes, and Feta
1 pound uncooked orzo (2 generous cups)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds cherry tomatoes, in an assortment of colors, halved
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 English cucumbers, unpeeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into slices
1 cup chopped red onions
1 cup (about 5 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup green olives, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix well. Set aside.
Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and add 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 1/2 hour or so and then drain any accumulated liquid. Add the cucumber, red onion, feta, olives, parsley, lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and gently mix. Add the orzo and gently toss with the vegetables. Season with the remaining salt and the pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Mix up a big batch and head outside.