Concert in the park with friends? Tailgating a Yankees game? Hiking your favorite trail with your spouse? Portable foods don’t have to be a mess of mayonnaise calling itself chicken salad.
Consider these upgrades: tender grilled chicken tossed with Greek yogurt, grapes and crunchy walnuts; or Asian-inspired, with snap peas, cranberries, peppery arugula and diced red onion. Want some kick? Go Buffalo with charred roasted corn and plump cherry tomatoes.
Lighter, more flavorful and a showcase for top-notch seasonal ingredients. It’s the kind of food picnics were created for.
Cooked and Co. in Scarsdale has a variety of chicken salads we love, and the enterprising takeout menu expands well beyond the standards. You’ll find soba noodle salads, whole wheat pizzas topped with pesto and sweet peaches, chimichurri shrimp skewers and some swoon-worthy Nutella muffins.
And at Auray Gourmet in Larchmont shop, find an array of basket combinations, from yes, seasonal gourmet cheese and meat selections, to heartier soups, sandwiches and quiches.
“People think cheese, salami and bread,” says co-owner Ben Aiello. “And a picnic basket can just be so much more than that.” Baskets start at $12 and go up to around $150, “but the sky’s the limit” says Aiello. “Whatever you desire, we can certainly put it together and it will be fantastic.”
Here are a few of our go-to spots to grab a picnic dinner. Even if the picnic happens at your kitchen table.
Auray Gourmet, Larchmont
A cheese shop that caters to a gourmet appetite. Small round bistro tables and a long case full of carefully chosen charcuterie and cheeses, many from France, lends to nibbling and lingering. If you’re hoping to grab and go, give a few hours of advance notice for custom orders. And don’t forget to request a baguette for your basket; they’re baked fresh every morning.
Details: 144 Larchmont Ave., Larchmont, 914-833-2274, www.auraygourmet.com.Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.
Cooked and Co., Scarsdale
Part caterer, part cafe and part gourmet takeout spot, this little spot on Garth Road checks a lot of boxes. For a memorable picnic dinner we like the housemade chips and guacamole: completely addicting and shareable. (That is, if you’re willing.) Choose from the case or call in an advance order and the Cooked and Co. team will assemble the meal for you.
Details: 128 Garth Road, Scarsdale, 914-205-3939, cookedandco.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
Ladle of Love, Mount Kisco
Gift baskets are a specialty of this soup, salad and sandwich shop, and are available for local delivery or overnight shipment anywhere in the county. Her basket or yours, owner Leslie Lampert will put together portable lunches or dinners packed with her signature farm-to-kitchen fare. Look for the Ladle of Love booth and food truck on Wednesday evenings at summer concerts in Chappaqua and and New Rochelle.
Details: 11B South Moger Ave., Mount Kisco, 914-242-9661, www.ladleoflove.com.Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
Mimi’s Plate, Tappan
Blueberry-peach slab bars, cabbage slaw with miso, toasted sesame oil, ginger and tahini, cheddar scallion biscuits, fried chicken and potato salad. At Mimi’s you’ll find just about anything you or your dining companions could possibly want for dinner, and all of it made from scratch. While there are no literal baskets, ask the talented staff at this catering and to-go shop for some guidance and they’ll help put together a summer feast fit for the season.
Details: 33 Old Tappan Road, Tappan, 845-359-MIMI (6464), mimisplate.com. Hours:8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
True Food, Nyack
Owner-chef Pamela Schulz cooks with locally grown seasonal meats and vegetables, then packages it all in recycled unbleached brown paper and biodegradable bags (they look like plastic, but they’re made from corn). The daily menu is simple: four hot entrees on a steam table include options for vegetarian, chick, rice and beans and frittata ($9.99 per pound). For the Fourth of July this healthy shop put together a ton of picnic baskets for patrons, assembled with veggie burgers, kale salad, heavenly gluten-free chocolate cupcakes and more. Also look for True Food’s healthy eats at Westchester farmers markets in Hastings, Chappaqua, Pleasantville and Irvington.
Details: 166 Main St., Nyack, 845-480-5710, www.truefoodofnyack.com. Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.