Take your cruelty-free cooking to the park, the beach and wherever else you’re picnicking this summer. Loaves of bread stuffed with veggies and vegan pesto, spicy tempeh sushi rolls, fruity strawberry cocktails and coconut custard pie with spicy papaya sauce are just a few of the dairy-free dishes you could be enjoying on your summer adventures. From appetizers to dessert, these fresh, flavorful and creative vegan picnic recipes will impress even your most skeptical omnivore friends and family.
Antipasto-Stuffed Picnic Loaf
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Stuff a partially hollowed-out loaf of bread with all of your favorite fillings, wrap it up and refrigerate it overnight with a heavy weight on top for condensed picnic sandwiches that won’t fall apart when you try to eat them. This version by The Daily Mail layers pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, artichoke and mozzarella – omit the cheese, use soy cheese or grilled marinated tofu instead or substitute another favorite vegan ingredient like avocado, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers or hummus.
Blueberry Mint Lemonade
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Sweet and refreshing, this super-simple recipe for blueberry mint lemonade is the perfect accompaniment to a vegan picnic spread. Sugar and mint leaves are cooked down into a syrup, mixed with lemon juice and served over ice cubes and a handful of tempting ripe blueberries. Use raw sugar instead of white sugar to make it 100% vegan-friendly. Two more delicious non-alcoholic vegan options: canteloupe agua fresca and green apple sparkler.
Fresh Flavorful Pasta Salad
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Pasta salad appears at practically any summer event, yet it’s almost always hiding a dairy product, whether mayonnaise, butter or cheese. Vegan versions, however, can be just as flavorful. Check this vegan pasta salad recipe from Fat Free Vegan, which utilize fresh summer produce of all sorts, spicing it up with garlic and cider vinegar. Another version, from Serious Eats, punches up the flavor even more with olive tapenade and capers (omit the anchovies, of course!)
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Strawberry lime is one of the most delicious flavor combinations of summer. To create a vegan version of tasty strawberry-lime cupcakes, substitute lime juice for the vinegar in the vegan strawberry cupcake recipe at Eggless Cooking and slather on some vegan ‘buttercream’ frosting. Garnish with strawberry and lime slices. You can also punch up the flavor by mixing a teaspoon of lime zest into the frosting recipe.
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Vegetable pinwheels are a fun alternative to plain old wraps and sandwiches and can be made with any of your favorite veggies. You just spread a mixture of vegan cream cheese and finely diced vegetables onto wheat lavash or tortillas, roll them up, slice them and wrap each resulting ‘pinwheel’ individually. Another option switches out the cream cheese and diced raw vegetables for hummus and grilled veggies.
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Missing the mayo-soaked tang of chicken salad? You can recreate it with zero animal ingredients, either with ‘mock chicken’ or chickpeas. Try simply substituting vegan mayo and a faux chicken product like Quorn in a standard chicken salad recipe, or check out this chickpea salad recipe which pairs soft spiced chickpeas with the satisfying crunch of celery and the sweetness of red grapes.
Vibrant Vegan Potato Salad
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Pretty much any potato salad can be made vegan by omitting dairy-based mayonnaise – be creative! Many potato salad recipes use vinaigrette and/or mustard instead of mayo to dress the veggies, or you could just use vegan mayonnaise. Try adding dill and pickles for a flavor boost, and toss in any veggies you have laying around.
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Vegan Cooking demonstrates how to make a super-easy mushroom pate with onion, garlic, sliced mushrooms in the variety of your choice and sunflower seeds. A little nutritional yeast deepens the flavor and adds plenty of B vitamins. This spread would be delicious with crackers or toasted baguette rounds.
Dairy-Free Banana Bread
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Post Punk Kitchen offers up the ultimate vegan banana bread recipe, which comes out sweet and moist with a chewy crust. Try slathering it with vegan double chocolate sauce or dairy-free vanilla frosting.
Chilled Israeli Couscous Salad
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Israeli couscous is similar to common couscous, but with a larger grain, so it’s a little heartier – perfect for chilled salads. This recipe from Fat Free Vegan balances sweet and savory with cucumber, baby greens, herbs, tomato, avocado and sliced ripe apricots.
Spicy Tempeh ‘Sushi’ Rolls
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Want to get a little fancier than sandwiches and salads? It would be pretty impressive to present some vegan sushi rolls at the beach or on the trail. Post Punk Kitchen stuffs spicy tempeh, green scallions and sushi rice into sheets of nori to produce flavorful finger food.
Ripe Tomato Basil Bruschetta
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So fresh, so simple, so evocative of summer – what’s not to love about bruschetta? Chop three medium-sized tomatoes, 1 vidalia onion and 2 heaping teaspoons of fresh basil leaves. Toss with a tablespoon of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar; salt and pepper to taste. Spoon this delicious mix onto sliced rounds of toasted baguette.
Strawberry Fizz Cocktail
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Another perfect summery beverage to pair with vegan picnic food is the ‘Strawberry Fizz’ cocktail by barmaster Mike Ryan of Chicago’s Sable Kitchen & Bar. Gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and a strawberry is all it takes to whip it up.
Raw Vegan Pesto with Zucchini Ribbons
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A video by Renegade Health gives you step-by-step instructions for making this nutritious raw vegan pesto made with basil, pine nuts and olive oil. Serve it over pasta or zucchini ribbons, or as a dip with crudites.
Coconut-Lime Custard Pie with Papaya Sauce
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This cheesecake-like custard pie is brimming with tropical flavors like coconut, lime and papaya. A homemade oat-spelt crust contains a creamy no-bake filling made with coconut milk and silken tofu. The clear sea vegetable agar-agar gives it a custard-like texture, and the whole delicious thing is topped with fresh spicy papaya sauce.