5 Recipes Perfect for Your Next Picnic!

Matt Bolus, head chef at Nashville’s 404 Kitchen, shares five delicious dishes that are perfect for planning your next picnic. Your appetizer, main dish, side dish, dessert and beverage are all covered here – all you need is a picnic basket and some sunshine!

Shrimp, Celery, and Grapefruit Salad
Serves 4


1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large grapefruit
1/2 pound sliced almonds
6 stalks celery, cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup thinly sliced parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated pecorino, for serving


1. In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring salted water to a boil. Quickly poach the shrimp in the boiling water for 2 minutes. You want them to be cooked to a medium or medium well but no more. Cook the shrimp in batches, if needed.

2. Carefully remove the shrimp from the boiling water and immediately plunge them in ice water to chill.

3. In a dry pan over high heat, toast the almonds, constantly stirring, until they are golden and fragrant. Supreme the grapefruit, reserving the juices.

4. In a large bowl, toss together the grapefruit slices, celery, and almonds.

5. Drain the shrimp and pat dry with a paper towel.

6. Add the shrimp, parsley, and olive oil to the grapefruit mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and grapefruit juice. Mix well.

7. Sprinkle pecorino over the top before serving.


Individual Cast-Iron Cornbread
Makes 4 to 6 (6-inch) skillets


4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 pound Grana Padano, grated
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) melted unsalted butter
1 quart whole buttermilk
4 large eggs
4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place four to six 6-inch cast iron skillets in the oven to warm.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the Grana Padano and mix well.

3. Stir in the melted butter and buttermilk until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each egg into the batter before adding the next. The batter should be thick, but not like dough.

4. Remove skillets from the oven. Add 1 tablespoon butter to each skillet. Divide the batter evenly between the skillets.

5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Note: If you can’t find Grana Padano, feel free to swap it with Parmigiano Reggiano.


Field Pea, English Pea, and Toasted Tahini
Serves 4


3 cups shelled field peas
1 cup shelled English peas
1/2 cup small diced shallot
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup tahini
2 tablespoon thinly sliced parsley
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring salted water to a rapid boil. Add the field peas in batches, and blanch until they are tender and lose their starchiness. Strain peas into ice water and chill. Repeat for the remaining field peas.

2. Add the English peas to the pot, and blanch 30 to 45 seconds. Strain into ice water and chill.

3. Transfer both peas from the water to a kitchen towel and let dry.

4. In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the sherry vinegar and continue cooking until the pan is almost dry. Remove from heat and reserve for mixing.

5. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the tahini. Stirring constantly, cook until the tahini turns golden brown and smells nutty. Remove from heat and carefully pour into a heatproof container.

6. In a bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients, combine the field peas and the English peas. Stir in the shallots mixture and parsley. Add tahini in batches, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, and add more tahini, if desired.

Note: This bright side dish may look like a lot of steps, but comes together quite quickly, and is worth a little extra effort.


Strawberry Shortcake Picnic Jars
Makes 6 jars


Nonstick cooking spray, for the pans
3 cups Bisquick™
1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans
3 cups macerated strawberries, divided
Whipped cream


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 8-inch layer pans with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Bisquick™, 1/4 cup butter, and milk. Mix until a soft dough forms. Pat dough evenly into pans.

3. In a small bowl, toss together brown sugar and pecans; cut in the remaining 1/4 cup butter and mix until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over the dough.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool until room temperature.

5. Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter that will fit inside 8-ounce jars, cut cakes into rounds.

6. Put one cake round in the bottom of a jar and top with strawberries. Add a layer of whipped cream. Place a second cake round on top of the whipped cream. Add more strawberries and then whipped cream. Finish with few more strawberries and their drizzled all over the top and around the sides. Repeat with remaining jars.

Note: This delightful twist on the classic dessert can also be made as one cake to serve at an outdoor gathering. Simply skip cutting the cake into rounds, and layer the two cakes with strawberries and whipped cream as you would normally.


Perfect Picnic Punch
Makes 1 drink


1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup (1 part water to 1 part sugar mixed)
1 ounce water
4 basil leaves
4 fresh raspberries
3 ounces lavender kombucha


1. In a cocktail shaker, add the lemon juice, simple syrup, water, basil leaves, raspberries, and ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Top with kombucha.

Note: For a grown-up version, Matt recommends adding an ounce and a half of floral gin, silver rum, or even sake.


Get more delicious recipes by heading to Pickler & Ben’s Recipe Archive!