It’s exciting to finally see the sun emerging on Eastern Long Island. When I see the sun, I start thinking about clamming in Hallock’s Bay, fishing for Striped Bass off the beach in East Marion or picking Raspberries along Moores Lane. Whatever the activity may be, I love being on the pebble beaches on the North Fork with friends and begin thinking about my picnic menus for the beach.
Summer also means hosting guests if you live anywhere near a beach so thank God for outdoor grills. These indispensable gadgets are great for prepping anything from chicken to steak to pasta or veggies for your picnic lunch while you are cooking dinner.
When grilling for dinner, you can always throw some extra chicken breasts on the grill for the next day. Grilled chicken breasts are versatile for sandwiches or for any summer picnic option and you can pack in ziplock bags for portability.
Pasta is always a great side dish since it can be cooked ahead and served at room temperature. Boil up a pound of pasta (bitesize-avoid linguine or spaghetti at the beach) and toss pasta the night before with your favorite premium pesto. I’ll have to recommend my own Seasoned Fork Arugula Pesto sold in 4 oz. jars in my restaurant for $7. It’s made with peppery North Fork Arugula and the finest Parmesan cheese and olive oil. The jar is enough for a pound of pasta along with an extra drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese before packing for the beach.
Heirloom Tomato and onion salad will go nicely with your pasta and chicken. Tomatoes are abundant in July and August and you’ll find many gardeners trying to unload them. So accept them all! Sliced them into chunks and toss with some spring onion. Drizzle with olive oil and a spritz of fresh lemon and salt before packing in containers.
Some people prefer sandwiches so take some fresh Ciabatta with you so that your guests can make chicken sandwiches and bring along packets of mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.
If you are spending the day at the beach, you may want to have something as an aperitif before lunch or a few hours later after lunch. I find that cold cuts hold up nicely in the cooler along with a box of breaksticks and some olives for knoshing.
All of this goes beautifully with some ice cold beer like Peroni, iced tea and bottled water.
If you want to pair a wine with this picnic lunch, I enjoy Wolffer’s Big Apple Wine. It’s a bone dry white wine actually made from apples with tart minerality made in an elegant Alsatian style. It’s perfect served chilled by itself or as a spritzer with club soda and ice.
For dessert stop at your favorite gourmet store for some poundcake on your way to the beach. You’ll still want something sweet but you don’t want melted icing ruining dessert.
Pack plenty of disposable plates/cutlery, napkins and cup.
Cooler Packed Menu
Grilled chicken breast
Arugula pesto with Orecchiette
Tomato and onion salad
Sliced ham, Sorpressata, olives
Wolffer Estate Big Apple Wine