Make These Now: 3 Perfect Summertime Picnic Recipes

Prep for Riverlife's Party at the Pier with these ideas.


I'm going to start this post with something almost annoying as Christmas countdowns in September: We only have three more weekends left before the unofficial end of summer. But instead of moping about it, let's take a glass-half-full approach and think about how we are going to send summer off with a bang.

This is the time to pack our lunches and eat outdoors. No eating at your desk! This also is the time to pack our picnic baskets on the weekends and hike, bike, kayak, run, walk, swim — anything but sit on the couch and veg (which is the most pejorative use of this term, by the way) — and have our meals on blankets, out in nature.

Yes, picnics! Now is the time. To help us along, I asked three of my favorite Pittsburgh food bloggers to share their favorite picnic recipes to give us a kickstart: Cauliflower Meatballs from Erin at The Almond Eater, Lemon Chickpea Salad from Kelly at House Cafe and a wonderful Gazpacho from my friends at The Hungry Hounds.

Finally, there only is one way to cap the last weekend of summer — with the most stylish picnic of all. On Aug. 29, there is just one place to be: Riverlife's Posh Picnic!

On this beautiful Saturday, the North Shore Riverfront Amphitheater at Rivers Casino will be filled with everyone at their picnic finest: Gatsby, gingham, Mad Men-inspired outfits, wine, great food. I cannot wait.

To get you ready, I have three delicious picnic recipes to share for one posh party — summer still is going strong.



Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs

Recipe from The Almond Eater
Makes 20-24 meatballs


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup gluten free breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook quinoa according to instructions on the package (over stovetop with 2 cups water); at the same time, cook cauliflower in a separate pot over stovetop until soft.
  3. Once cauliflower and quinoa are done, add them to the food processor, along with the garlic, so all three ingredients are combined. You may need to do this twice, as not all of the quinoa and cauliflower will fit in the processor at once. Remove and place in large bowl.
  4. Add breadcrumbs, parley, oregano and Italian seasoning, and stir by hand. Place bowl in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, allowing mixture to harden a bit.
  5. Roll mixture into meatballs — the size is up to you. Mine were between golf-ball and tennis-ball size.
  6. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet and place meatballs in skillet. Cook until slightly golden brown and transfer to a baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until meatballs are firm.
  8. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Erin is the writer and recipe developer behind the blog The Almond Eater, where she shares recipes of all kinds. Her main goal is to spend less time in the kitchen so she has more time to do other things, including teaching barre classes, doing freelance photography and working out (we all want that right?).



Lemon Chickpea Salad

Recipe from House Cafe


  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 yellow pepper, small diced
  • 1 red pepper, small diced
  • 1 pint baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tablespoons Vegenaise or mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Chives (garnish to taste)
  • Almonds (chopped, garnish to taste)
  • Endive leaves (for serving, to scoop)


  1. Saute the mushrooms in the coconut oil for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste after they cool down.
  2. Combine the chickpeas, peppers and mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of Vegenaise or mayonnaise and the juice of 1 lemon. Mix and add more salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add chopped almonds and chives into the salad mixture.
  4. When plating, top with even more almonds and chives.
  5. Serve with endive leaves for scooping. Enjoy!

Kelly Kinsey is the blogger behind House Cafe. A behavioral therapist by day and an awesome cook by night (and weekends), she's also a mom who shares her love for food with her two little ones. I love following her cooking adventures!




Recipe by The Hungry Hounds
Serves 8


  • 4 large tomatoes, ends removed
  • 2 medium cucumbers, ends removed
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeds and ends removed
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and ends removed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and end removed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup diced chives, basil, cilantro and/or green onions (for garnish)


  1. Make this soup a minimum of 4 hours prior to serving to allow the flavors to meld and deepen, and to allow the soup time to thoroughly chill.
  2. Finely dice (about 1/4-inch cubes) the vegetables — tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onion and jalapeno pepper. This step can be done by hand or in a food processor. If using a food processor, start by quartering the vegetables. Note that if you are using a small food processor, you may have to process the vegetables in batches to avoid pureeing them. Chop/pulse the vegetables together for approximately 12-15 pulses, until they are chopped into small pieces but not yet pureed.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped vegetables, salt, pepper, garlic, tomato juice, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Mix to combine. Add 6 ice cubes to kick-start the cooling processes and to provide the remaining liquid. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours prior to serving, preferably overnight.
  4. Prior to serving, taste the soup and adjust seasoning and spice to your preference.
  5. Serve the soup very cold, we like to put our serving dishes in the fridge or freezer briefly prior to serving to enhance the cold temperature. You can serve gazpacho with additional diced tomatoes, peppers and/or cucumbers on top, along with a liberal garnish of fresh herbs. This soup keeps well for up to 3 days covered and refrigerated.

The Hungry Hounds is named after Paul and Rebecca Shetler Fast's two lovable dogs, Leo and Charlie. I love this couple's blog because it reflects their globe-trotting backgrounds. Rebecca grew up in Ontario and lived in Europe, while Paul grew up in Tanzania and has lived all over the United States. They met in Ethiopia and got engaged in Thailand, and they bring all corners of the globe into their recipes.


Categories: Brazen Kitchen