When the weather chooses to cooperate, spring can be the perfect time of year for eating alfresco

If you’re having a picnic, a bit of forward planning can turn it into a real gastro experience. Forget cocktail sausages and sweaty sandwiches – these recipe ideas will really get the tastebuds going. Perk up your picnic basket by choosing four or five ideas for your next outdoor feast.

 

1. Scotch eggs

If making your own Scotch eggs sounds like too much of a faff, these will change your mind. They’re easy to cook, and much healthier than the ready-made variety, as they’re baked, not fried – an excellent spin on the classic. See recipe for Scotch eggs.

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2. Ham and spring onion stratas

We bet everyone will rave about these mini treats, which are like a cross between a savoury muffin and a quiche – they’re irresistible! Cheese, onion and ham is a winning flavour combo but you could also leave the ham out for a meat-free snack. See recipe for Ham and spring onion stratas

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3. Red pepper houmous

Houmous is a a real crowd-pleaser, and this red pepper version is bound to be a winner. It’s delicious as a low-fat dip to eat with carrot and cucumber batons, tomatoes and toasted pitta strips. But you don’t have to stop there – enjoy it with raw broccoli or cucumber florets, breadsticks or oatcakes, too. See recipe for Red pepper houmous.

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4. Celebration crown

This fabulous vegetarian filo tart looks impressive and tastes just as good. It’s topped with gorgeous spring vegetables, pine nuts, crème fraiche and crumbly cheese. Serve it in slices with a few salad leaves as part of your outdoor feast. See recipe for Celebration crown.

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5. Cheese straws

Watch these gorgeous, crunchy, cheesy twists disappear seconds after getting them out, they’re such a popular snack! And with that in mind, it's worth making more than you can imagine needing - so it's lucky the recipe is really simple. See recipe for Cheese straws.

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6. Cherry tomato & basil quiche

Who can resist a warm slice of homemade quiche? We’ve taken all the time-consuming effort out by using ready-rolled pastry in our recipe. The gorgeous cheese, tomato and basil filling is simple but very tasty – and the quiche is also great eaten cold, a perfect addition to a picnic. See recipe for Cherry tomato and basil quiche.

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7. Cornish pasties

These traditional meat-and-veg turnovers may take a little effort, but you’ll be rewarded when you taste the result! It really is worth making your own pastry as the lard gives a particular consistency these pasties are famed for, or take a short-cut and use shop-bought, ready-rolled instead. See recipe for Cornish pasties.

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8. Pork and apple sausage rolls

Pork and apple make the perfect combo, so why not put the same duo in a sausage roll? You’ll be everyone's favourite when you produce these gorgeous melt-in-the-mouth savoury treats. See recipe for Pork and apple sausage rolls.

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9. Hot cross buns

A classic at this time of year – everyone loves these fruit and spice filled Easter buns. Instead of the usual butter, try topping these with jam, honey, marmalade or even chocolate spread for an extra sweet treat. See recipe for Hot cross buns or why not buy a pack to save time.

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10. Red & green picnic wraps

There’s no cooking required to make these great sandwich alternatives, which look as tempting as they taste. The red wraps have a spicy chicken-and-mayo filling; the green ones are packed with a creamy chicken, avocado and gherkin combo. See recipe for Red & green picnic wraps

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11. Italian pressed sandwich

This is an ingenious cross between a sandwich, a pizza and a pie. It’s a whole round loaf with the middle scooped out and replaced with wonderful Italian ingredients. Get the kids involved in making it, then enjoy the delicious results. It’s a far cry from the usual curly sarnies of picnics past! See recipe for Italian pressed sandwich.

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