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3 Ideas for a Pack-Ahead Picnic (Plus, drinks to Match)

Spring is here! The sun is shining, birds are singing, and there’s a vibrancy in the air. It’s time to kick off the winter blues and welcome the return of warmer weather. And what better way to do that than with a picnic? We’ve hand-picked some recipes, so you can pack a basket full of delicious treats to enjoy while you’re replenishing your vitamin D levels – and we’ve got some ideas for drinks to match.

Rockmelon and prosciutto pasta salad

Pasta salads are great make-ahead meals, and this rendition is made extra-special thanks to the contrast between salty prosciutto and sweet rockmelon.

Serves: 8 as a side

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes


  • 500g spiral pasta
  • 1 zucchini, cut into long matchsticks
  • 350g rockmelon, seeded, peeled, cut into thin wedges
  • 100g prosciutto, coarsely torn
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 60g packet Coles Australian Baby Rocket
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup (125mL) buttermilk
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard


  1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Refresh under cold water. Drain well.
  2. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add zucchini, rockmelon, prosciutto, spring onion, rocket, half the mint and half the parsley. Toss to combine.
  3. Whisk the buttermilk, lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl. Season.
  4. Divide salad among serving plates. Drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with remaining mint and parsley to serve.

To drink: The salty prosciutto calls for a matching crisp and fruity wine. Try a bottle of Pewsey Vale Riesling from the Eden Valley, or even something nuanced and delicate like the Bird In Hand Pinot Rose.

Crunchy cashew chicken

This battered chicken tastes great cold, so it’s the ideal picnic food. The crisp crunch of cashew and breadcrumb house perfect cooked chicken – delicious.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


  • 1 ½ cups cashews
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 chicken thigh fillets, halved
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Place cashews in a food processor. Process until very finely chopped. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs, cumin, coriander and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced.
  2. Place flour on a plate. Whisk eggs in a shallow bowl. One by one, toss chicken pieces in flour. Dip in egg, then press in breadcrumb mixture to coat. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add half the chicken. Cook for 2 minutes each side. Transfer to a baking tray. Repeat with remaining oil and chicken.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Serve cold.

To drink: Nothing goes better with crispy battered chicken than a cold beer. You can’t go wrong with a six-pack of  Tinnies Lager in your picnic hamper. Or, if you want to throw some extra flavour in the mix try a Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and Dry.

Chocolate and pecan brownies

You know the only thing better than brownies fresh out of the oven? Brownies that have rested for a day. Whip up a batch of these before your picnic and do your best to resist temptation until you’re lounging in the sun. Still, if you want to sample one or two in advance you’d be forgiven – after all, you’re only human.

Serves: 20

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes


  • 150g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free plain flour
  • 150g white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 23cm square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, combine spread, dark chocolate, cocoa and water. Place bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir until melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in sugar, pecans, almond meal, combined flours, white chocolate and eggs. Pour mixture into prepared pan, smoothing top.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and dry. Set aside to cool. Dust with cocoa and cut into squares to serve.

To drink: Given that this is a rich dessert, the best choice here is to lean into the sweetness. Try washing these brownies down with a glass of vibrant Banrock Station Pink Moscato, or a Rekorderlig Wild Berries cider.

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