A portable vegetarian feast
May 3, 2021 5:08 PM   Subscribe

What would you bring on a vegetarian mother's day hike and picnic?

That's the question, really.

Will only have access to a very small rural grocery store so some limits there, but I can pack a few things into town from a fancier grocery store if needed. Was envisioning cooking and assembling things, but also can bring things that are bought ready to eat.
posted by geegollygosh to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I would assemble an edible fruit bouquet and a fancy grazing board because I am all about snacking on picnics (and all the time really) and eating with my eyes. Homemade lemonade would be lovely as well.

You could pack the board with your picnic gear and have all your grazing elements prepped in containers/jars ready to dump out and feast upon. The bouquet might be harder to carry on a hike depending how elaborate you get with your bouquet.

Also strawberry hand pies is what I'm making for my mom this year and they would be excellent for picnic purposes.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:24 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]

I’d go for a Mediterranean mezze spread. Make tabbouleh, marinated chickpeas, some cold roasted peppers and eggplants, tzatziki with cucumber and dill, maybe some other spreads or dips depending on what’s available. Pack olives, cherry tomatoes if they look good, other vegetables for dipping like carrots and celery and cauliflower florets or even fennel wedges, flat bread or pita, or even just simple crackers. If you want more protein you could do some hard boiled eggs which are lovely with tzatziki, some spiced nuts, or a nice snacking cheese found at the fancier grocery store maybe. Lemonade is classic for a picnic, but you could also do cucumber or mint water that infuses during the hike. For sweet, whatever fruit is most in season at the rural grocery store, with a little cinnamon sugar sprinkle you add last minute so it doesn’t macerate during the hike.
posted by Mizu at 5:30 PM on May 3 [10 favorites]

Quiche is a very mother's day-ish food to me, and it's good cold or cool. If you make them crustless, in mini tart pans or cupcake molds, they're very sturdy stacked and wrapped. One of my favorite brunch combos is quiche and a salad with an almost-too-zingy dressing that plays off the mellowness of the quiche. And it's asparagus season in most places now, which is one of my favorite quiche ingredients. You could bring focaccia to go with, which should survive a backpack trip very well.

A loaf cake or sweet bread travels well in a container - Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Lemon Yogurt Cake (I like raspberries in mine), or you could make brownies or bar cookies.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:37 PM on May 3 [7 favorites]

Babaganoush and hummus with (good) corn chips, maybe some guacamole and salsa too, some feta with olive oil and tomatoes (if tomatoes are truly ripe where you live), some falafels. And what Mizu said: flatbread/pita ..
posted by anadem at 5:44 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Don't forget the stuffed grape leaves with the delicious Mediterranean spread that Mizu described above.
posted by gaspode at 5:44 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]

Sandwiches are a classic, and a mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich on a baguette is the classic of classics.
posted by General Malaise at 5:55 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]

For a hike, a homemade trail mix, packaged into cute little sachets, would be nice.

Homemade fruit juice - I really like honeydew melon. Morning of, toss in some ice cubes made from the juice, or some frozen berries, to keep it cool while hiking.

I like what I call a "jewel salad" - a fruit salad made of really fancy, jewel-toned fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, figs, seedless black grapes, etc.

You can make onigiri with items found in most large supermarkets, and they are perfect for a hike.

A lentil salad would be great cold, room temp, or warm.

A grain salad would be, too. Try America's Test Kitchen's Egyptian-inspired barley salad with pomegranate molasses and feta, or Cookie and Kate's beet, carrot, and quinoa salad (you can swap out any grain-ish item, as well as virtually any green).

Slices of your favorite cheeses would be great as a side.
posted by aquamvidam at 6:03 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]

I am both a mom and a vegetarian and I love picnics :) I love all the ideas above, but just thought I’d add in one more: these focaccia sandwiches are delicious and very packable (and there’s just something about homemade bread...). Also they are eminently customizable.
posted by Empidonax at 6:29 PM on May 3 [6 favorites]

What's in season? Think like a subsistence farmer. You just harvested a ton of ____ and now you need to process it.

Want to make it extra fancy? Add fat.
posted by aniola at 6:30 PM on May 3

Fancy or fancy(ish) cheeses, if you're down on dairy. Maybe some deviled eggs too; people love those.

Assuming Lacto-ovo vegetarian, I like some deep filling protein and fat for a hike, and eggs and cheese are more fun/celebratory/luxuriant than nuts, but probably far easier (or less pricey) than the delicious Mediterranean feasts described above.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:38 PM on May 3

Depending on your hikers, it may be nice to pack individual lunches for each person instead of a large buffet-style spread though that sounds fun too? Individual lunches make the packing and cleanup easier. So - a sandwich, a special cookie, small container of fruit salad, pack of trail mix - walnuts, raisins or dried apricots, plus dark chocolate.

I love cheese sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, mayo on the lettuce facing away from the bread, pickle. A layer of alfalfa sprouts or hummus would not be wrong. A pickle or pickled pepper on the side.

These oatmeal cookies with brown butter frosting are special as are Bravetart's peanut butter cookies.

Get brown paper lunch bags or small cardboard boxes from a bakery supply store, deli containers for the fruit salad, wrap the sandwiches in wax paper, cut them, then wrap again in plastic wrap.

Oh and whatever the drinks - water with lemon slices and an herb (lavender?) - (paper) straws make it fancy! Plus a pretty napkin (actual cloth napkin?).

Happy mother's day hike, this sounds perfect!
posted by RoadScholar at 8:08 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

I often picnic with croissants with sliced Brie and apples (could have been pears), and it is simple and yet fancy.
posted by saucysault at 10:25 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Mizu's idea looks wonderful. I would probably go for that, if I felt it would work with my party.

One thing I would think of is wether the picnic is at a place with tables or you are going to sit on the ground? But maybe I am weird in that way. If I am sitting on the ground, I strongly prefer only finger food, no use of knives and forks at all. and no faffing about with containers and spoons. So everyone should get their own packages. Maybe a bento-mezze fusion, where the visual styling is from a bento box and the tastes are from the Mediterranean?
I very often make little hand pies inspired by spanakopita, "inspired by" because I use store-bought puff pastry. The inside is as in the linked recipe. I have also been known to put the filling from samosas into puff pastry, because I just can't get the authentic way right. My family approves.
Or you could cut pitas in triangles and provide little individual containers of delicious dips. Triangles taste better.

Thinking of triangles, cucumber sandwiches can be a real treat. Maybe together with tomato pie and brownies and cherries for dessert?

The vegan option: if you don't mind bringing cutlery, or chopsticks, a salad made with soba noodles, cucumber and toasted sesame seeds remains delicious even after being carried around in warm weather for a couple of hours. For the dressing, use small amounts of sesame oil, soy sauce and lime or lemon. Mix well before packing. I have some cute little stackable bowls with tight fitting lids that I think I bought at flying tiger or a similar store, they are really good for this. Combine with vegetable sticks and some great dips, and oranges for dessert. Actually, I think Fish Fragrant Eggplants would go very well with this, but it's just a hunch, I haven't tried it. (No fish are involved, and it is probably my favorite vegan dish in the world, so I guess I think it goes well with everything).

Another vegan option could be inspired by Spanish Tapas. You could bring a thermos with iced gazpacho, and make little sandwiches on sourdough with (vegan) mayo, tomatoes, preserved artichokes, cold potatoes, onions and garlic (all in one or in various combinations). Maybe a salad based on butter beans and lots of parsley if you don't mind forks, otherwise also sandwiches with mashed butter beans, cooked with garlic and mixed with lots of parsley. Have something over-the-top sweet on hand for dessert.
posted by mumimor at 5:33 AM on May 4

Fresh strawberries, ready to eat, with brown sugar and sour cream for dipping.
Some very nice chocolate truffles.
A selection of fancy olives.
Gardiniera pickles.
Maybe some roasted asparagis that's still crisp, with something to dip it in.
Fresh spring rolls are not hard to make, and they're really good even if they fall apart. Wrapper, lettuce, maybe some fresh basil, roasted veg thinly sliced, roasted tofu, shredded carrot, sprouts. Don't forget the sweet chili sauce; you might even have some in packets in the condiment drawer. Wrap them in plastic wrap. T'he wrappers are unlikely to be at a small grocer, but most of the rest is.
Another option with great portability is wraps. Any combination but not all of avocado, rice, beans (refried or mashed), arugula, salsa, cilantro, cooked sweet potato, sprouts, onion, roasted veg, cucumber, hummus in a large tortilla. Large tortillas should be available, but easy to bring if you're not sure.
Don't forget water.
Beer or wine if you like, maybe a small bottle of bubbly and some orange juice for mimosas.
Bring cloth napkins, they're light but add elegance.
Anything in oil want wants to ooze out and destroy your backpack. Put it in a plastic bag, then in another plastic bag that has extra paper towels.
posted by theora55 at 7:02 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]

This is just to say that I know how to spell asparagus, but my typing sukcs. /so embarrassed.
posted by theora55 at 6:32 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

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