What to CookSalad

A 6-Dish (Gluten-Free!) Picnic Menu Even Bread Lovers Will Adore

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This summer, we're partnering with Jet.com to share recipes that will help you hone nearly every skill in the book. (And Jet will have you covered with all the fresh and pantry goods you will need. Seriously, they have everything. Use the code Food52 at checkout for 20% off your first 2 orders.*) Over the past few weeks, we've shared tips to arm you for summertime grilling and to master the art of the block party—and there's more to come. On the docket today: your guide to a gluten-free picnic!

Alright: You've staked out a picnic spot on your phone's map before you leave. You've picked up a box of rosé ahead of time (stop your giggling right there, this tastes nothing like what you remember from college). You've got games, some portable speakers, and books. You're poised, you're ready, it's go time.


Don't stay at home—get out on the grass and bask in the sun! It might take you an hour on public transportation to get there, just a quick ride on your bike, or it may be a 5-minute walk. It will definitely feel like people have multiplied like gremlins across whatever patch of green you have access to, just like the public beach on opening day. So you better be ready to strategize on a location and hold on to your plot of land all day long—and that means you need to be prepared with sustenance.

Photo by James Ransom

But maybe your usual park food isn't going to cut it this time, and you've got several diets to please: A few people eat meat, but not red meat. There's a gluten-free contingent. Lots of vegetarians. No baguettes or brownies or steak salads will do. No sweat—you've got this.

Here's what to tote to the park, plus how to make it ahead of time and pack it up, too. (Or delegate to your friends if it's that kind of gathering!) It's all gluten-free, so nobody can protest. This also meaning no soggy sandwich bottoms, lots of vegetables, and a few sweets, too. Just don't forget a blanket!


The Menu

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Green Goddess Dressing

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761 Save Go To Recipe
Makes around 2 cups
  • 1/2 medium ripe avocado
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 oil-packed anchovies, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • Salt and pepper
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How to pack it: Pack your lettuce and fixings separately from your dressing, which can be made 3 days in advance (!). Pack extra cut veggies (carrots! radishes! blanched beans!) and other bits and bobs for dipping in the leftover dressing.

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Chicken Salad

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338 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 4 to 6
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • Salt
  • 4 cups cubed roasted chicken (I like to include some of the crisp skin)
  • 3 tablespoons slivered peppadew peppers
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (drained thoroughly)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped smoked almonds
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
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How to pack it: You can roast chicken anew or use leftovers for this salad, which marinates in a delicious lemony, mustardy, vinegary brine for a bit. Of it, our co-founder Amanda says:

I like a good mayonnaise-based chicken salad, but one with more candid flavors would be a great recipe to have around for when chicken salad and a glass of white wine feels like the perfect weekend lunch.

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Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard-Walnut Vinaigrette

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843 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 6 to 8


  • 4 pounds mixed marble potatoes, or other small potatoes
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced crosswise


  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
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How to pack it: Potato salad is always, always a staple for outdoor dining, and this one actually won our Best Picnic Recipe contest! The community member who developed this recipe, Shannon, advises to break some of the spud skins so that the vinaigrette seeps into them, which gives creaminess to the whole salad when mixed together. (Mayo who?)

If you want, bring the walnuts and basil separately to add right as you serve—but it's not gonna break hearts if you do it before.

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Tahini Roasted Broccoli

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507 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 2 to 4 as a side
  • 2 tablespoons tahini, well stirred
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to serve
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Several grinds black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
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How to pack it: Tahini-roasted broccoli is delicious hot or cold, so it's great for an occasion like snacking in the park. You can roast it the day you're planning your picnic so it's warm to eat, or you can do so a day ahead of time, so that the creamy tahini and lemon juice gets lodged in the roasty florets and there are lots of pops of sesame and citrus.

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Renee Erickson's Sautéed Dates

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284 Save Go To Recipe
Serves as many as you like
  • sharp extra-virgin olive oil
  • dates, unpitted (count on 4 to 5 per person as an appetizer)
  • flaky sea salt
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How to pack it: Sautéed dates are a little unconventional, but you will quickly make converts of people. Dates become savory-sweet jewels, relaxing after a quick jumble in your oil-slicked pan. Sauté them right before you go—and then pack 'em in a thermos if you care that they're warm, or serve them room temperature or cold at the park. Pack toothpicks and flaky sea salt, and something to serve them in, so they can marinate in the oil as you go.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Crack Ups

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401 Save Go To Recipe
Serves 2 dozen 1-inch sized cookies
  • 3/4 cup Nutella or other brand chocolate hazelnut spread (look for one with a fat content similar to the peanut butter, around 11 grams per 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
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How to pack it: While you can eat the hazelnut cookies warm and gooey, I prefer them to be thick and cold for park munching. Make them ahead of time and store them in the fridge so they will taste like fudge.

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Table in a Bag

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Picnic Basket

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Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Salad, Spring, Summer, Vegetable, Picnic, Outdoor Entertaining