By Robin Anish
Ask anyone from the Berkshires where the best place to picnic is and chances are the answer will be Tanglewood. The prelude to any Tanglewood concert is the picnic on the lawn.
So what goes into a picnic basket heading to Tanglewood?
If you have time …
Plan ahead. Create a menu that will be savored and lingered over throughout the evening.
But here’s a recipe worth planning: A chilled salad version of a classic Spanish paella is a great start to the perfect picnic. Take advantage of the amazing locally made breads and cheeses and refresh the palate with juicy wedges of watermelon with a sprinkling of salt.
For dessert, splurge and stop at Chocolate Springs in Lenox for the most luxurious of chocolates to enjoy with a glass of bubbly because champagne goes with everything.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cook onion in oil until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to medium low, cover and simmer until rice is just tender, about 20 minutes. Cool uncovered.
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
Fold into rice along with 1 cup of the dressing:
- 4 scallions sliced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 12 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, halved
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, no need to thaw
- 1 large red pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Grill or roast:
- 2 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 pound kielbasa
- 8 extra large or jumbo shrimp, shell on
Cool and slice chicken and kielbasa
Transfer rice into large serving dish. Arrange chicken, kielbasa and shrimp on top of rice. Drizzle remaining dressing over all and garnish with a some whole pimento stuffed olives, a sprinkling of fresh parsley and lemon wedges.
Chill until serving time.
In a rush?
But what do you do if you get a last minute invite to join friends on the lawn for an evening at Tanglewood? How do you fill a picnic basket on such short notice? It can be done, it can be stress-free and it will be fabulous.
Have the picnic basket ready, and the dinnerware and ice set to go. A quick trip to the market and you are on your way.
Pick up some individual boboli or naan, one for each serving. Hit the salad bar, then grab some fresh mozzarella or feta cheese, choose a bottle of good quality Italian dressing. At the deli, decide on a rotisserie chicken or fried chicken or both. Hit the bakery for dessert, and the beverage aisle is the finish line.
Pack everything into the picnic basket and head to Tanglewood. When it’s time to eat, place a boboli or naan on a plate, top with salad, cheese and a drizzle of dressing. Enjoy the salad and nibble on the bread that has absorbed the flavors of the salad. Along with the chicken, dessert and drinks, this is a perfect picnic.
It would take almost no time to add a chilled summer soup to the menu.
Cold Cucumber Soup
- 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2/3 cups sour cream
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil or dill, minced
- salt and white pepper to taste
Puree cucumbers, garlic, sour cream, yogurt and lemon rind in a food processor. Stir in basil or dill, salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving.
Take some time to enjoy many picnics this summer throughout the Berkshires and Southern Vermont.