There will be fewer of us than usual at the picnic this weekend. In fact, you may be able to count everyone on one hand.
Regardless of number, the usual outdoor favorites are likely to be in demand: the familiar potato salad, the simple but juicy fruit salad, the protein that regularly lands on your grill.
But given that this is a year like no other, now may be the time to update that menu, whether your guests are around the table or in carefully positioned chairs at the edge of your driveway. From shrimp burgers to chocolate-covered crispy rice bars, we've got flavorful recipes to offer a welcome expansion of the norm.
But stay safe! If those dining with you go beyond your usual mealtime partners, keep health guidelines in mind — and remember those videos of diners sharing utensils and passing dishes at potlucks. This may be the time for the host to do the serving for guests, or for them to bring their own utensils.
Note: If you're using untreated shrimp, increase the amount of salt to 1/2 teaspoon (without added sodium or preservatives such as sodium tripolyphosphate, STPP; most frozen shrimp have been treated). If you're purchasing shell-on shrimp, you should buy about 1 1/2 pounds. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and lighter than the traditional crumb, which could be substituted. From "Foolproof Fish," by America's Test Kitchen.
• 1/2 c. mayonnaise
• 3 tbsp. finely chopped dill pickles plus 1 tsp. brine
• 1 small shallot, minced
• 1 tbsp. capers, rinsed and chopped fine
• 1/4 tsp. black pepper
• 1 c. panko breadcrumbs (see Note)
• 1 1/4 lb. peeled and deveined large shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.), tails removed
• 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
• 1/4 tsp. black pepper
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
• 3 green onions, chopped fine
• 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 4 hamburger buns
• 4 leaves bibb lettuce
For the tartar sauce: In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayo, dill pickles with brine, shallot, capers and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
For the burgers: Pulse panko in food processor until finely ground, about 15 pulses; transfer to shallow dish. Place a third of shrimp with 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, salt, and cayenne in now-empty processor and pulse until shrimp are finely chopped, about 8 pulses.
Add remaining shrimp to the shrimp mixture in processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 4 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer shrimp mixture to bowl and stir in green onions.
Divide shrimp mixture into 4 (3/4-inch-thick) patties (about 1/2 cup each). Working with 1 patty at a time, dredge both sides of patties in panko, pressing lightly to adhere, and transfer to plate.
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place patties in skillet and cook until golden brown on first side, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and continue to cook until shrimp registers 140 to 145 degrees and second side is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Drain burgers on paper towels and serve on buns with tarter sauce and lettuce.
Crispy Rice and Roasted Peanut Bars
Makes about 8 bars.
Note: Swap out toasted unsalted almonds for the peanuts or almond butter for the peanut butter, if you prefer. From "Simple Beautiful Food: Recipes and Riffs for Everyday Cooking," by Amanda Frederickson.
• 3 c. puffed rice cereal
• 1 c. unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
• 1 c. unsalted roasted peanuts (see Note)
• 2 tbsp. coconut oil
• 1/2 c. honey
• 1/2 c. peanut butter (see Note)
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 8 oz. semisweet chocolate
• Flaky sea salt
Line an 8- by 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, letting the paper overhang on the sides.
In a large bowl, mix together the puffed rice cereal, coconut flakes and peanuts.
In a small skillet over medium heat, whisk together coconut oil, honey, peanut butter, salt and vanilla.
Pour mixture over the puffed rice mixture and blend well. Press mixture into the prepared baking dish.
In a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate. Spread it over the top of the puffed rice mixture and sprinkle on some flaky sea salt. Refrigerate until chilled, about an hour. Cut into bars and serve.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Tandoori Chicken Wings With Yogurt Sauce
Note: The yogurt sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can grill the wings ahead and reheat before serving. From "Potluck," by the editors of Food and Wine.
• 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
• 2 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
• 6 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 tbsp. garam masala
• 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• 1 tbsp. hot paprika
• 2 tsp. vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
• 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
• 1 tsp. turmeric
• 18 whole chicken wings
• Cilantro sprigs and thinly sliced white onion, for garnish
• Lemon wedges, for serving
• 1 c. Greek yogurt
• 1/4 c. cream cheese, softened
• 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh mint
• 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tsp. ground cumin
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground pepper
To marinate the wings: In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, ginger, garlic, garam masala, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, paprika, oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and turmeric. Add the chicken wings and toss to coat. Cover wings and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
To make the yogurt sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, cream cheese, mint, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
To cook: Set up grill for direct and indirect cooking, then light grill and oil the grate. Remove wings from marinade, scraping off all but a thin layer. Grill over moderately high heat, turning, until the wings are lightly charred all over, about 8 minutes. Move to indirect heat, cover and cook at 425 degrees until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a wing registers 165 degrees, about 15 minutes.
Transfer wings to a platter and garnish with cilantro sprigs and thin sliced white onion. Serve with yogurt sauce and lemon wedges.
Gingered Thai Steak and Pepper Salad
Note: From "Half Baked Harvest Super Simple," by Tieghan Gerard.
• 2 tbsp. roasted sesame oil
• 2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 tbsp. fish sauce
• 3 tbsp. honey
• Juice of 2 limes
• 1 red Fresno or jalapeño pepper, seed and chopped, optional
• 1 (1-in.) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
• Kosher salt
Thai Steak Salad:
• 1/2 lb. hanger or flank steak
• Freshly ground pepper
• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 3 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
• 6 c. mixed greens, such as shredded cabbage and arugula
• 2 nectarines, thinly sliced
• 2 Persian (or other seedless) cucumbers, sliced
• 1/4 c. fresh Thai or regular basil, roughly torn
• 6 fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
• 1 avocado, sliced, for serving
• 2 tbsp. roasted peanuts, chopped for serving, if desired
To make the vinaigrette: Combine sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, Fresno pepper (if using), ginger and a pinch of salt in a small bowl or glass jar. Whisk or seal and shake to combine.
To make the steak: In a large bowl or zip-top bag, combine steak with half of the vinaigrette and season with pepper. Massage the steak until completely coated and let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes or up to overnight in the fridge.
Heat a large heavy-bottomed skilled over high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the steak and sear on one side for 4 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side until medium-rare, about 3 minutes more. Add the butter to the pan and, once melted, spoon it over the steak and cook for 1 minute more. Remove steak from skillet and let rest on a cutting board for about 10 minutes.
Add the peppers to the same skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until just charred on the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pan from the heat.
To make the salad: In a large bowl, toss together the greens, nectarines, cucumbers, basil, mint, cooked peppers and the remaining vinaigrette. Thinly slice the steak against the grain and add it to the salad. Top with the avocado and peanuts, if using, and serve.