Yotam Ottolenghi’s picnic and camping recipes
Smoked trout quiche, fruity chicken enlivened by za’atar and a couscous salad: outdoor food can be something really special, so long as you follow a few simple rules
Camping, festivals, picnics: people love to make out that such activities are super-relaxed, chilled and sort of happen all by themselves. It's a ruse, though. There are rules! Especially when it comes to the food. Rule number one: think about logistics – if your quiche is travelling, give it an extra 10 minutes in the oven, because a soft set won't end well. Rule two: don't assemble anything leafy or herby until your rug is laid out, because wilted leaves and herbs are a sorry sight. And rule three: if you’re in a crowd, don't be shy about making a plan – there are only so many crusty baguettes and pots of hummus that any group can eat.
This one's all about keeping the quiche love alive. It's a real picnic winner as well: easy to slice and eat by hand, happily made in advance (not forgetting that extra 10 minutes in the oven), and it travels well, too. Make more of the dukkah or pesto, if you like – it's lovely to have a bit extra of both.
Prep 15 minCook 1 hr 20 minCool 30 min+Serves 6
320g shop-bought shortcrust pastry3 large eggs, whisked 180ml double cream200g creme fraiche8 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced (120g)¼ tsp cayenne pepperFine sea salt150g hot smoked trout, roughly flaked1 lemon, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, then cut into 8 wedges60g pecorino (or parmesan), finely grated60ml olive oil20g basil leaves, roughly torn10g flat-leaf parsley leaves25g pine nuts 2 tsp coriander seeds½ tsp cumin seeds1½ tsp sesame seeds10g blanched hazelnuts
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6, and have ready a 24cm tart tin. Roll out the pastry into a roughly 3mm-thick circle that's at least 28cm in diameter (it needs to be large enough to line the base and sides of the tin, with some overhang). Lift up the pastry circle, press it into the base and sides of the tin, then fold the overhang over the sides, pinch to secure and freeze for 10 minutes, until it's cold to the touch.
Line the tart shell with a sheet of baking paper large enough to cover the base and sides, then fill the tin with baking beans. Place on a flat tray, then bake for 30 minutes. Carefully lift out the paper and beans, then return the tart case to the oven for 10 minutes more, until golden and cooked through. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of the beaten egg all over the pastry shell, then return to the oven for two minutes.
Meanwhile, put the cream, creme fraiche, spring onions, cayenne and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan, put it on a medium heat and gently bring to a boil, which should take about three minutes. Off the heat, gently stir in the trout and lemon zest, and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Finally stir in all the remaining beaten egg and two-thirds of the pecorino.
To make the pesto, put the oil, basil, parsley, the remaining 20g pecorino and 15g pine nuts in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse to a coarse paste.
For the dukkah, coarsely bash the seeds, hazelnuts and remaining pine nuts in a mortar.
Pour the custard into the tart shell, then drop spoonfuls of the pesto on top, keeping them apart. Sprinkle the dukkah over any remaining visible patches of custard, then bake for 25 minutes for a soft set and up to 35 minutes for a firmer one.
Remove, leave to cool for at least 30 minutes, then slice and serve with the lemon wedges alongside.
This can all be made ahead, but hold off on adding the leaves and herbs until just before serving. Serve as it is, or pile it into crusty rolls.
Prep 15 minMarinate 1 hr+Cook 45 minCool 30 min+Serves 4
60g watercress, tough stems discarded 10g mint leaves, roughly chopped
For the chicken500g boneless and skinless chicken thighs100g Greek yoghurt, plus 2 tbsp extra to finish2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed1 tbsp za’atar½ onion, peeled and thinly sliced (80g)Fine sea salt and black pepper
For the grape and mustard dressing150g red grapes, 100g thinly sliced, the rest left whole1½ tsp wholegrain mustard1 tsp balsamic vinegar¼ tsp caster sugar1 tbsp lemon juice1 tbsp olive oil
For the za’atar seeds 1 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted½ tsp za’atar1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Put all the ingredients for the chicken in a large bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, toss to combine, then set aside to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight in the fridge; if you chill it, take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to start cooking).
To make the dressing, put the 50g whole grapes in the small bowl of a food processor, add all the remaining dressing ingredients except the sliced grapes, drop in an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, then blitz smooth and transfer to a large bowl.
Mix all the ingredients for the za’atar seeds and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.
Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½. Tip the chicken and its marinade into an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper, then roast for 25-30 minutes, until the juices run clear and the onions are slightly charred. Remove and leave to cool.
When the chicken is completely cool, cut it into 1cm-wide strips, add these to the dressing bowl with the remaining two tablespoons of yoghurt, and mix gently to coat. Arrange on a platter, top with the watercress, mint and sliced grapes, then serve with the za’atar seeds scattered over everything.
As with many pasta and grain salads, this is a great one to take on picnics or camping, because it can be made in advance, it's quick to assemble, it travels well and it's pretty resilient. Look for green çarliston peppers, or other similar varieties, in Middle Eastern food shops, though romanos will work just fine as a substitute. If you like, crumble over some feta at the end, or serve with some Greek yoghurt on the side.
Prep 40 minCook 30 minServes 4-6
500g green çarliston peppers, or romano peppers 40ml olive oil 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar½ tsp caster sugar Fine sea salt and black pepper1 x 400g tin black beans, drained (240g)1 onion (180g), peeled and finely chopped 1½ tbsp hot Turkish pepper paste, or harissa 1½ tbsp tomato paste 1½ tsp ground allspice ½ tsp chilli flakes 250g pearl couscous, or regular couscous or quinoa500ml vegetable stock 15g flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped 7g dill fronds, finely chopped
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Put the peppers on a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, drizzle over a teaspoon of the oil and roast for about 15 minutes, until blistered with brown patches. Remove from the oven, fold the paper over the peppers, then leave to steam and cool for 10 minutes. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, pull off the stems, peel and discard the skins, then remove the seeds and pith. Tear the flesh of each pepper into two or three thick strands, and put these in a small bowl with the vinegar, sugar, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of water. Mix gently, then leave to pickle while you get on with the rest of the dish.
Put the drained beans in a small bowl with a teaspoon of oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, mix well and set aside.
Put a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat, add the remaining oil and the onion and cook, stirring often, for five minutes. Turn down the heat to medium, then stir in the pepper and tomato pastes, and cook, stirring, for three to five minutes, until the mix starts to split. Stir in the allspice, chilli, couscous, stock, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, bring to a simmer, then cover the pan, turn down the heat to low and leave to cook for eight minutes.
Uncover the pan, tip the beans on top of the couscous, cover again and cook for two to four minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated. Take off the heat and set aside, still covered, for 15 minutes.
To assemble, stir the herbs into the couscous mix, then spoon half of it on to a platter. Top with half the peppers and their liquor, repeat with the remaining couscous and peppers, and serve.15 min 1 hr 20 min 30 min+ 6 320g shop-bought shortcrust pastry3 large eggs 180ml double cream200g creme fraiche8 spring onions ¼ tsp cayenne pepperFine sea salt150g hot smoked trout 1 lemon 60g pecorino 60ml olive oil20g basil leaves 10g flat-leaf parsley leaves25g pine nuts 2 tsp coriander seeds½ tsp cumin seeds1½ tsp sesame seeds10g blanched hazelnuts 15 min 1 hr+ 45 min 30 min+ 4 60g watercress 10g mint leaves 500g boneless and skinless chicken thighs100g Greek yoghurt 2 garlic cloves 1 tbsp za’atar½ onion Fine sea salt and black pepper 150g red grapes 1½ tsp wholegrain mustard1 tsp balsamic vinegar¼ tsp caster sugar1 tbsp lemon juice1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp sunflower seeds ½ tsp za’atar1 tsp finely grated lemon zest 40 min 30 min 4-6 500g green çarliston peppers 40ml olive oil 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar½ tsp caster sugar Fine sea salt and black pepper1 x 400g tin black beans 1 onion 1½ tbsp hot Turkish pepper paste 1½ tbsp tomato paste 1½ tsp ground allspice ½ tsp chilli flakes 250g pearl couscous 500ml vegetable stock 15g flat-leaf parsley leaves 7g dill fronds