This post is an introductory guide of ideas for anyone planning a vegan picnic/bbq. It'll be useful for me in the future too - my memory's terrible at the best of times.
The main reason why my partner and I have National Trust membership is so that we can make use of their grounds for regular picnics. Equally, when I go walking I try to include a picnic on the route (preferably on the top of a hill, with a good view). We even have picnics in our garden in the evening after work (sitting on the grass is sometimes nicer than at the table).
Investing in a set of watertight plastic containers (such as Lock'n'lock) is highly recommended. Thermos now sell freezer boards (as opposed to blocks), which are cheap and fit rucksacks better. Picnic baskets look nice, but aren't overly practical. Always remember to take some bin bags, both for waste and to stop hummous from getting smeared inside your rucksack!
- Sandwiches - left over fajitas can be good too
- Corination 'Chicken' - mix 'chicken' pieces in mayo, curry powder and apricot jam (sultanas are optional). It's less gross than it sounds!
- Sausage Rolls - cut Linda McCartney sausage rolls into 3 and brush with soy milk before cooking
- Pasta/Couscous/Noodle Salads - Jar of sauce, chopped pepper (if feeling healthy), job done
- Pizza - cold can be better than hot. Use puff pastry as an alternative to dough if you fancy
- Indian Snacks - You can often buy samosas, bhajis and pakoras in packs that require little or no cooking
- Cake!! - how could I forget? Biscuits too. Scones + jam + cream are quintessential
- Chocolate Mousse - there's a recipe on here somewhere, but it's basically soya whipping cream + melted chocolate + booze. Careful it doesn't melt thou
- Vol Au Vents - Jusrol sell ready to bake cases. Fill with left overs :)
- Potato Salad - boil new potatoes, chop and stir with mayo, mustard and chopped clives.
Buy 'ready to eat':
- Fruit Salads - Though I'm aware that it's possible to make these yourself; I can rarely be bothered.
- Desserts - They do exist occassionally - things like jelly and summerpudding are sometimes suitable
- Dips - Hummous, salsa, gucamole etc. You can make these too, but they're generally cheap to buy.
- Sausages - Redwoods sell a few varieties of ready to eat ones
- Pasties - H&B sell ready to eat pasties in various flavours, which are semi edible
- Quiche - now sold in H&B. It's alright, but not amazing
- Scheese & Crackers - scheese works better than cheezly
- Crisps / Nachos - not the world's biggest fan myself, but can be good for dipping
- Nibbles - olives, sundried tomatoes, antipasti etc
- Nice bread - I love making focaccia, but it doesn't happen often!
- Oil & Vinegar - infused oils and balsamic vinegar, for dipping bread into
- Interesting Salads - Tesco / Morrisons / Asda tend to be a bit shit when it comes to vegan pre-prepared salads that may actually want to eat. Sainsburys, Waitrose and M&S score much better.
- Cold - I normally make up a smoothie, but juice works too. A thermos + ice helps.
- Hot - Tea, coffee, hot chocolate - more useful on autumn walks than summer picnics
- Booze - I generally end up driving later in the day, so tend not to include this
BBQs are great. I use a gas one at home and the disposable charcoal type when visiting non-vegans. I can't really tell the difference in taste between the two, but gas is a lot more convenient (and less wasteful).
There are lots of vegan burgers available that really don't BBQ well at all. Tofu based ones like Beannies do work, but will often split in two and need rescueing half way through cooking! I bought a vegan BBQing book a few years ago which is utter crap - it suggests using a baking tray on the BBQ with all recipes - what's the point?
You can get hickory chips that you throw on the coals to create smoke. It's a bit of a gimmick though and doesn't make a lot of difference. I've heard people say that various brands of liquid smoke are vegan, but I've not been interested enough to pursue it.
There are lots of great marinades available in UK supermarkets. Sainsburys have several that are labelled vegan - I generally use their TTD brown ale stuff on kebabs.
- Fake burgers/sausages - Frys works the best (by far). Serve with plenty of relish, mayo and salad in a warm ciabatta roll (Sainsburys sell the best ones)
- Kebabs - I usually do mushrooms, peppers, onion, smoked tofu, courgette. If you put a mushroom at either end then it stops the other things coming into direct contact with the grill and hence they're less likely to stick when marinaded
- Mushrooms - Large mushrooms can be cooked on their own, either marinaded in source first or just in a little oil, soy sauce and mixed herbs. Press them down a few times during cooking to release excess moisture
- Tofu - You can marinade firm tofu and cook directly on the grill if you fancy. It probably will stick though, so don't be surprised if it does!
- Potato Waffles - BBQ remarkably well. Plus the leading brand is no longer owned by Unilever! :)