7 Things to Pack for the Perfect Picnic

August is summer’s home stretch: Time to turn every last ounce of energy into a final kick for enjoying alfresco eating. Keep the basket by the door, make sure the red-checkered tablecloth is clean, and consider one of these seven picnic ideas from CHOW’s Home Cooking Community.

1. Bake a stuffed braid, using either store-bought or homemade dough (like the one for our Parker House Rolls). Stuff it with cold cuts and cheese, tuna and hard-cooked egg (a take on the niçoise salad), or smoked salmon and mozzarella (we love this calzone filling). chowser

2. Set up an avocado bar, halved and pitted avocados with different toppings set out for picnickers to help themselves: crab salad, salsas, tomatoes with goat cheese and bacon—you can even try a dessert version with condensed milk and fruit. lschow

3. How about some quick pickles for a side dish? These Korean-style cucumbers are fast and pack a lot of flavor. Ttrockwood

4. Muffuletta sandwiches are great, since you can make them ahead of time and the flavor only gets better. Also, mayo isn’t a factor, so there are no worries about spoilage or off flavors from sitting in the heat for an hour or two. Boccone Dolce

5. Ice-cold gazpacho served in cups is a delicious way to make use of summer's best produce. Pack the soup in a chilled thermos. Billy33

6. Orzo with Everything from Epicurious is a great pasta salad—sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and radicchio punch up the flavor. c oliver

7. Potato salad made with olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and fresh herbs is a fresher, lighter (and safer) twist on traditional potato salad with mayo. tcamp

Photo of potato salad by Chris Rochelle

Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master's in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.