Tapas are beloved for their small size and bold flavors. That’s why I love the idea of taking tapas into a picnic setting. A tapa is a savory snack that originates in Spain, and can be enjoyed alongside a drink or with other tapas for a very fulfilling meal. In a tapas style restaurant, you can usually choose from a list of hot or cold plates. In this case we had quite a ways to travel, so we opted for food that is delicious served at room temperature and also a few things that will be prepped ahead of time and chilled in the cooler.
For this picnic, we traveled to Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, MA to enjoy an outdoor concert performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We prepared the menu below, but you could ask each of your friends to bring their favorite tapa, and just get creative. Here's a few ideas to start. This suggested menu was planned for a group of 4-6 people.
Spanish-inspired cheese, charcuterie and fruit board
(select 2-3 things or substitute whatever you have on hand)
- Manchego cheese
- Orange slices
- Serrano ham
- Marcona almonds
- Frozen grapes (unfrozen is fine too, but if you freeze the grapes the night before they won’t get mushy at the end of the picnic)
- Precooked shrimp ring (if its a hot summer day keep it frozen in the cooler and it will thaw quickly onsite)
- Mason jar with Garlic Sauce (olive oil, fresh parsley and minced garlic, or purchase garlic-flavored olive oil). This sauce also tastes delicious drizzled over crusty bread and pickings from the cheese board.
- Appox. 2 lbs of sliced tomatoes
- 1 medium-sized sliced cucumber
- ¼ cup of red onion (of course add more if you really like onion)
- ½ cup of bell pepper (you pick the color – I used orange this time around)
- 1 corncob (slice off the kernels)
- Spices (This can be adjusted to taste, but I recommend: 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp of paprika and a healthy dose of salt and pepper)
- Orange blossom water (optional)
- Fresh basil
Optional garnish for Gazpacho:
- Greek yogurt or sour cream (for garnish)
- More fresh basil
To serve on the side:
- Crusty bread (for dipping into the finished soup or as a supplement to your cheese board)
Prosciutto wrapped dates:
- Pitted dates
-1 teaspoon of cinnamon
-2 tablespoons of sugar
-3 flour tortillas (I used Chi-Chi's fajita style)
-4 oz. (or half a stick of butter) melted
-1 jar of Stonewall Kitchen's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce or another chocolate dipping sauce (look near the ice-cream aisle)
- Bottled or sparkling water
- Wine/Beer selection of choice (Our favorite Spanish wine right now is LAN Rioja Reserva 2011, but be sure to check if alcoholic beverages are allowed at your picnicking destination)
- Ice for your cooler
A lot of the things on this menu can be purchased at a grocery store and just need to assembled on site. However, the gazpacho and the churros do require a little bit of prep work at home. If you don't have time, that's ok! Just choose something else at the store. Perhaps some cinnamon baked chips with chocolates? Or a salad prepped at the grocery store?
If you're feeling ambitious and want to give the gazpacho and churros a shot. We've blogged all of the details in previous posts.
In the basket
- A picnic blanket or tablecloth (tables/chairs are great too, but not needed if you already have one at the site)
- picnic plates
- spoons (for soup)
- additional cutlery (knives, forks)
- cheese knife
- wine cork / bottle openers (if needed)
- bags(s) for trash/recycling or storing dirty plates
- hand sanitizer
- bug spray
- Any additional food that doesn't need chilled (fruits, nuts, bread, dates, oils, churros and chocolate)
A flower vase (ok, harder to transport, but worth it)
Candles/matches for an evening picnic (be sure to check if this is allowed at your picnicking destination)
In the cooler
- Ice / ice packet
- frozen or thawed shrimp ring
- any charcuterie meats
- water or other chilled beverages
- grapes or any other berry fruits that might get mushy when warm (e.g. strawberries, raspberries)
- gazpacho and garnish (additional fresh basil)
Cooler tip: My cooler has wheels which made it A TON easier to haul to our picnic spot
When we arrived to our picnic spot, I set up our table first added the tablecloth and began assembling the cheese board and sorting out all the plates. I got out the frozen shrimp ring first so that it could start to thaw in the heat of the summer it didn’t take very long! I prepped the cheese/fruit board then began wrapping the prosciutto around the dates. The gazpacho stayed in the cooler until we were ready to eat it. And the churros... well they didn’t get saved for last. But seriously this is the kind of dessert where it’s a good thing if the chocolate is extra melty for dipping.
Here's what the final product looks like...
I hope this inspired you to try hosting your own tapas inspired picnic. Remember you don't have to do it all! You could also ask your guests to each bring a dish and pick which recipe you’d like to give a try. Or just bring a meal-worthy cheeseboard that's easy to assemble. As long as you're outside and have a snack in hand, that's considered picnicking!
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