I'm really excited for this weekend's snow picnic! Like any sort of picnic, all of the dishes should be made in advance. Fill a large thermo with hot tomato soup and serve in mugs at the picnic destination. Pack buttery croutons — they'll add a delicious crunch to the soup — in separate Tupperware. Make a giant mozzarella and red-pepper sandwich on a large baguette and cut into individual slices for serving. Store portobello mushroom salad in Chinese take-out containers and allow guests to top with croutons or prosciutto crisps. Supplement the menu with store-bought potato chips, crackers, or flatbreads. For these tasty recipes — perfect for energizing before a snowball fight — please
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
5 cups canned whole tomatoes in their juice (from three 14-ounce cans)
1 cup water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Four 3/4-inch-thick slices of white country bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 3/4-inch dice
- In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sliced onion and smashed garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice, the water, heavy cream, sugar, crushed red pepper, celery seed and oregano and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over moderately high heat until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Scrape the browned butter into a medium bowl. Add the olive oil to the skillet. Add the diced bread and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is slightly browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bread to the browned butter and toss well.
- Working in batches, transfer the tomato soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to a clean pot and rewarm the soup if necessary. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the croutons.
1 (5-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and roughly chopped
1 pinch hot-pepper flakes (optional for kids)
1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (optional for kids)
1 (6-ounce) container bocconcini in oil (or 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella in oil, torn into pieces), undrained
1/2 thin 18-inch baguette, sliced lengthwise, interior crumb removed
- In a medium bowl, combine the first four ingredients (including the bocconcini's or mozzarella's marinade).
- Fill the baguette with the mixture.
- Close the baguette and wrap it tightly in waxed paper, then in aluminum foil.
- Place the sandwich at the bottom of the cooler so the weight of the other contents compresses the sandwich and allows the juices to soak into the bread.
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
4 small portobello mushroom caps, stemmed and thinly sliced
6 ribs celery from the heart with leafy greens, thinly sliced on an angle
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Truffle oil, for drizzling (optional)
- Preheat the broiler.
- Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on a foil-covered baking sheet and broil until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
- Toss the mushrooms, celery and onion with the olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange on a platter and top with the arugula and parsley. Drizzle with truffle oil, if using.
- Break up the crispy prosciutto and scatter over the salad.