A Last Minute Picnic

This back and forth weather is driving me crazy, I can't take it any more! I'm one wrong outfit choice away from a Britney-style breakdown. 

All this unpredictable weather means it's hard to plan ahead for the weekend. So last Sunday Jack and I found ourselves quickly throwing together a last minute picnic when we woke up to a hot, sunny day. We crashed around the flat, chucking stuff in bags and trying to get out the door as quickly as possible to get down to Tooting Common for optimum tanning hours. (We were both The Walking Dead-pale, so tanning was essential). 
We grabbed a few things from the Tesco Metro at the end of our road (easier said than done, I swear Tesco Metro only sell tampons, fajita kits, Lambrini and croissants) and combined them with things we always have in the kitchen (lemons, freekeh, onions, cucumber,) and made the most delicious last minute picnic ever

The halloumi and freekeh salad was so unbelievably yummy and moorish. I can't get enough freekeh (and not just because I can keep making the joke "cos tonight baby, I wanna get freekeh with youuu"...gets me every time) but because of it's nutty, roasted flavour and chewy, crunchy texture. It's got so much more to it than quinoa or buckwheat, which I sometimes find are a bit bleurgh. The flavour is good enough that it stands up against other strong flavours like tahini, garlic or harrissa. It's got less carbohydrates than brown rice and is three times higher in fibre and protein so you don't need a lot to feel full. It's just freekeh-n great! (Couldn't resist) 

This salad has a perfect balance of flavours. Salty halloumi (make sure you do this in a really hot pan so it gets that nice carmelised, golden bit), tangy and fresh lemon juice, sweet carmelised red onion, nutty freekeh and peppery bitterness from the parsley. Ohhh it's so good. 
We also took with us some chargrilled corn on the cob, which we wrapped in foil and a few of these amazing sandwiches. Made with fresh, thickly sliced bread, creamy hummus and finished with some super quick home-pickled vegetables for a tangy, acidic crunch these sandwiches were even more delicious than I imagined! They absolutely hit the spot for a summery day and I can't wait to make them with proper homemade hummus, rather than the shop bought one with a squeeze of lemon juice that I used here. I also think they would be good with extra feta cheese, whole chickpeas or toasted pine nuts. 

The pickled vegetables took 5 minutes (but need 30 mins to cool) and I think there's a real feel-good factor about making your own. It just feels better to know everything that has gone in to them, which isn't something you can say about those supermarket jars of pickled onions and gherkins which could survive a nuclear explosion. 
We finished our picnic in a classic English way; licking the melted Mr Whippy ice cream off our forearms whilst it dribbled all over the place. 

Serves 2

For the halloumi and freekeh salad:
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped or ripped
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 packet of halloumi, sliced
1/2 packet freekeh
olive oil

For the hummus and salad sandwiches:
4 slices thickly cut fresh bread
1 pot supermarket hummus
juice 1/2 lemon
2 handfuls crunchy salad
home pickled vegetables

For the home pickled vegetables:
1 cucumber, finely sliced
1 handful radishes, finely sliced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar/plain white vinegar/white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
pinch of dried chilli flakes

1. To make the pickled vegetables - put finely sliced red onion, radish and cucumber in 3 separate bowls or jars (if you mix them all together the colours will run). In a small saucepan heat the liquid ingredients with the salt and chilli flakes until they come to a gentle boil. Pour this mixture in to the jars so that it covers all veg, leave this to cool. This should take around 30 mins. 

2. For the freekeh salad - cook the freekeh to packet instructions, about 15 minutes. Once cooked put in a large bowl to cool. Fry the sliced halloumi in a very hot pan with no oil, once golden on both sides take out and slice in to strips. Add this to the freekeh. In the same pan, fry the chopped red onion in a drizzle of olive oil, once carmelised add to bowl with freekeh. Once this mixture has cooled, stir through the parsley and lemon juice. 

3. For the sandwiches - Toast the bread so that it goes slightly crispy round the edges. Mix juice of the 1/2 lemon through hummus then spread this mix on the bread. Layer on some salad and then the pickled vegetables. Wrap in foil. 

What's your favourite picnic recipe? 


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