Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for the perfect picnic

There are two ways to do picnics, I think. You can do the supermarket sweep, of course, but that runs the risk of everyone bringing the same thing and you ending up with four quiches and a kilo of carrot sticks. The other option is to go ridiculously large: divide and conquer by asking each person to be responsible for one thing – and for that thing to be wonderfully supreme.

Go big or go home with this, my version of the epic New Orleans sandwich. If you’re eating it at home (ie, close to an oven) skip the initial toasting stage and instead put the filled loaf in the oven for a perfectly melting sandwich.

Prep 20 min
Press 2 hr+
Serves 8

1 sourdough loaf (600g-700g)
95ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves
, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp za’atar
8 anchovy fillets
, drained and finely chopped
2 red chillies, seeds and pith removed, flesh finely chopped (30g)
2 shallots (80g), peeled and cut into thin rounds
200g pitted nocellara olives, drained and roughly chopped
450g jarred red peppers, drained, patted dry and cut in half (350g)
3 tbsp fine capers, drained (or rinsed, if salted; or regular capers, chopped)
10g parsley leaves, roughly chopped (about 2½ tbsp)
30g basil leaves, roughly chopped (about 5¾ tbsp)
Salt and black pepper
1½ tbsp English mustard
1 tbsp runny honey
70g thinly sliced salami
100g sliced gouda

2 buffalo mozzarella balls, cut into 2 cm-thick slices and patted dry (250g)
100g thinly sliced mortadella

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Cut off the top third of the loaf lengthways: this will be the lid later. Using your hands, carefully hollow out the loaf, removing as much of the crumb as possible (save it to make breadcrumbs), while leaving the crust intact. Put the hollowed-out loaf and its lid separately on an oven tray, bake for three to five minutes, until crisp and lightly golden on the inside, then remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the salsa. Put 50ml oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat and, once hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for three minutes, until softened. Stir in the za’atar and anchovies, then take off the heat. Pour the za’atar mix into a medium bowl, leave to cool, then stir in the chilli, shallots, olives, peppers, capers, parsley, basil, a good grind of pepper and a quarter-teaspoon of salt.

Put the mustard and honey in a small bowl with the remaining three tablespoons of oil, and mix until very smooth. Using a pastry brush, spread the mustard mixture evenly over the inside of the loaf and on the underside of the lid.

To assemble the muffuletta, spoon two-thirds of the olive salsa into the base of the loaf, and spread it out evenly. Layer the salami on top, followed in turn by the gouda, mozzarella and mortadella, firmly pressing in each new layer as you go. Spoon over the remaining salsa and put the lid on top.

Wrap the loaf tightly (in reusable kitchen wrap, ideally) and put it on a tray. Weigh it down with a heavy wooden board (or a tray filled with tins) and leave at room temperature for two to three hours (or refrigerate overnight).

Cut the loaf into thick slices and serve at room temperature.

Serve this with some crudités or crackers. These quantities will make more pickled ginger than you need here; store the excess in an airtight container in the fridge, ready to serve with rice or steamed fish.

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min
Serves 4 as part of a meze

400g frozen peas, defrosted
2½ tbsp olive oil
2 banana shallots
(80g), peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp sherry vinegar
, or white-wine vinegar
100g soft goat’s cheese
20ml lemon juice
(ie, from 1 lemon)
2 tsp fresh horseradish, finely grated, plus extra for garnishing
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced at an angle
5g mint leaves, roughly chopped (about 2¾ tbsp)

For the pickled ginger
50g fresh ginger, peeled
1½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
3 sprigs fresh thyme
60ml white-wine vinegar
30g caster sugar

First, pickle the ginger. Thinly slice the ginger (use a mandoline, if you have one), then stack and cut into thin strips. Put these in a small saucepan with 250ml cold water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Leave to bubble for three minutes, then drain, discarding the water. Put the blanched ginger in a sterilised, heatproof jar and add the lemon zest and thyme. Pour the vinegar and sugar into the same pan, bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then pour straight into the ginger jar. Set aside to cool, then screw on the lid and refrigerate.

Now for the dip. Put the oil in a small, nonstick saute pan on a medium-high heat, then add the shallots and saute, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until softened. Stir in the thyme, garlic, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for three to five minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the peas and sherry vinegar, then take off the heat and leave to cool.

Tip the mix into a food processor, add the cheese, horseradish, lemon juice and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and pulse to a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl (or plastic container, if you’re packing it up for a picnic).

Put two tablespoons of the pickled ginger and a tablespoon of the pickling liquor in a small bowl, and stir in the spring onions, mint, remaining teaspoon and a half of oil and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Spoon this over the pea dip, grate some fresh horseradish on top and serve at room temperature.

Freshly baked madeleines, warm from the oven, are one of life’s little pleasures, but they also make a wonderful picnic treat. These ones are a bit of a hybrid, and are inspired by Japaneses mochi, using glutinous rice flour and tapioca starch instead of plain flour. As well as making them gluten-free, this also gives them an irresistible, ever-so-slightly chewy texture. Look for little bottles of yuzu juice on the world food aisle of larger supermarkets, but if you can’t get any, use a mix of lemon and lime juice instead; Asian food stores are your best bet for crystallised yuzu peel, however, thoughmixed citrus peel will work well if need be. The batter can be made up to the day before; in fact, resting the batter in the fridge is an important step of the process, and is part of what gives madeleines their pronounced hump.

Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
Makes 22

135g unsalted butter, roughly cubed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
20g honey
3 eggs
130g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
100g glutinous rice flour
60g tapioca flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp finely grated lime zest

For the yuzu icing
100g icing sugar
20
ml yuzu juice (or 20ml mixed lime and lemon juice)
1 tbsp crystallised yuzu peel (or mixed peel)
1 tsp finely grated lime zest

Put the butter in a small saucepan on a medium high heat and cook, whisking frequently, for about five minutes, until the butter has turned a deep amber and smells nutty. Pour into a small bowl, whisk in the vegetable oil and honey, and set aside for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly.

Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment fitted, then mix on medium-high for about two minutes, until creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk the rice flour, tapioca flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the stand mixer and work on low speed until thoroughly combined. With the mixer still on a low speed, pour in the brown butter mixture in a steady stream, followed by the lime zest, and mix until thoroughly combined. Chill in the fridge to rest for at least one hour.

When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 190C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and butter a nonstick 12-cavity madeleine tin. Using a piping bag or a teaspoon, pipe or spoon about 25-30g of the madeleine mix into each cavity, then bake for 10 minutes, until they are just set and bounce back when poked with a finger (you don’t want to overbake them). While they’re still hot, unmould the madeleines and leave to cool slightly on a wire rack while you make the icing. Wash, dry and butter the madeleine tin again, fill it with any remaining batter as before and bake (or put it in the fridge and bake later).

In a small bowl, mix the icing sugar and yuzu juice until smooth. Finely chop the crystallised yuzu, put it in a second small bowl, then mix in the lime zest. Dip the narrow scalloped end of each madeleine in the yuzu icing, sprinkle over a little of the yuzu peel/lime zest mix and serve at once.

Comments are closed.