Pack a Picnic: Stack, Sandwich, Wrap it up with Willow Tree Farm Chicken Salads

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Picnic perfection is in the details.

It is still a little chilly outside, but with a few extra blankets, let’s just get this picnic season started. (You know you already have all the chairs and blankets in the car because spring sports are well under way.)  Here are a few menu options for your picnic whether it’s a weeknight dinner at the playground or a weekend day trip picnic. Willow Tree Farm sent us some of their chicken salads to work with for this post.  I am a fan of the Buffalo chicken salad although I really like the classic too.  My husband’s favourite is definitely the avocado chicken salad that is savory and sweet thanks to the addition of cranberries.

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Sometimes a picnic just needs a patch of grass and a pizza.

A picnic can be an elaborate to do or it can be just a matter of keeping a blanket, some paper plates and cutlery in the trunk of the car, and picking up a takeout pizza.  We do all kinds of picnicing this time of year.  We do the “after -sports we want to stay at the playground picnics”.  For weeknights I either plan ahead and bring a picnic or one of the adults goes to pick up a pizza while another watches the children at the playground.  The family also likes to do weekend day trips and if we’re near a beach or a park I prepare a picnic in the morning or if the picnic is spontaneous we buy some bread, cheese, drinks and veggies from a local shop.

Here are some ideas for making a quick picnic that you can throw in a cooler with some ice packs.

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Salad in a jar, a little fresh bread, and a bottle of lemonade is just right for a picnic. This salad is made with (from bottom to top): black beans, chopped and rinsed red onion, shredded lettuce, quartered tomatoes, Willow Tree Farm Buffalo chicken salad, and pea greens.  I like to serve this with a little vinaigrette.

The trick to a perfect picnic is to have good ingredients and a few extra touches.  There is nothing quite like a well made sandwich. All you need is good bread, a tasty filling, some crunch and the right ratio of each ingredient.

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Before you prep, decide if you are serving your picnic family-style or if you want each person to have their own little picnic setup.

This sandwich (above) is made on ficelle, which in French means string, it is similar to a baguette but about 1/2 the width making it perfect for long thin sandwiches.  This one has some spring peas for freshness, some grated carrots for crunch and is chock full of Willow Tree Farms’ avocado chicken salad dotted with sweet dried cranberries. Add some pear tomatoes skewered on a thoothpick or a slice of pickle for that last little touch.

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Things in jars are very popular and some of the jars you find on Pinterest are so cute and other are just ridiculous.  When it comes to a picnic, putting things in jars is just plain practical and eco-friendly too.  Less paper and plastic trash is important to me and makes clean up a lot easier.  As for worrying about broken glass, these jars are very durable so long as you are not tossing your cooler onto a cement surface, you should be fine.  This New England Tex Mex mix is perfect to enjoy with a fork and a side of corn tortillas (locally made of course).  You can also pack a big container of fresh greens have picnickers spoon a little of the Tex Mex mix over a bowl of greens for a hardy salad. This Six Layer Mex Mix was made with corn salsa, black beans (you can use your instapot to make a fresh batch or just rinsed canned beans will work), cheddar cheese cubes, original chicken salad, Buffalo chicken salad, and topped with chopped olive tapenade. There is enough flavour in the mix that when tossed with greens you can skip any additional dressing.

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Go gluten-free with lettuce wraps.

Lettuce wraps are delicious and don’t get soggy.  You can bring all the ingredients separately and have everyone build their own lettuce wraps to taste, or you can prep a bunch of these wraps in advance and put them in a large container ready to serve.  Crunchy iceburg lettuce or more delicate Boston/Butter/Bibb lettuce works best.  These chicken salad lettuce wraps have pickled carrots underneath for some extra crunch and tang and are topped with Willow Tree Farms plain chicken salad which is gluten-free as well.

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