If Virginia Willis’s lightened-up picnic menu doesn’t fit the bill for your holiday plans next week, take a look at what we’ve selected from the Recipe Finder database. Or mix and match on your own. All the foods travel well and can be made in advance.

Do you have recipes you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below.

(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Walnut and Red Pepper Spread. Savory and sweet; this can be made up to a week in advance.

Dirty Rice. There’s a lot of flavor packed into this classic side dish, which can be made several days in advance.

Flank Steak Spirals With Spinach, Figs and Fontina (shown above). Slices are beautiful, and hold together well for serving. Pass the sauce for dipping.

Picnic Fruit Salad. Freeze some of the cut-up fruit separately; refrigerate the rest. Combining the two yields unexpected textures/consistency.


(Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)

Cold Cherry and Tomato Soup. This refreshing Catalan dish gets a nice bite from sherry vinegar; it’s adapted from a recipe by Jose Andres.

Poached Shrimp With Lime-Ginger-Corn Salad (pictured above). Pretty and summer-y, this dish can be put together at the last minute from components prepped two days in advance.

Peach and Coconut Macaroon Cake. From the great Elinor Klivans, a dessert that stays in its baking pan, so it’s perfectly portable.


Deviled Eggs. There’s a reason these are a picnic staple. They’re fun to eat, sort of like egg poppers, and so satisfyingly cool and creamy on a hot summer day. This recipe adds a jolt of rice vinegar and Tabasco.

(James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)

Travis Timberlake’s Vinegar Slaw. This acidic slaw from the former Art and Soul chef should make a nice complement to the pesto pasta.

Perfect Peach Pie. Peach season is here, which means it’s the perfect time to bake this lemon-accented, fruit-stuffed pie.


Stuffed Dates. Scale up the recipe with ingredients bought at Costco for a classy little appetizer.

German Potato Salad. This side, pleasantly potent with vinegar and onion, will only improve with age; a classic from Food section columnist David Hagedorn.

(Michael Temchine for The Washington Post)

Salty Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints. The cookies can rest at room temperature as long as three days, but you’ll be lucky if they last that long, let alone through to when dessert is served at your picnic. The recipe’s from the women of Whisked!


(Allison Dinner for The Washington Post)

Grilled Pork Chops With Plum Salsa. The salsa goes together quickly, and the pork chops just get thrown on the grill. (I might brine them overnight.)

Antipasto Potato Salad. Bold flavors come from olives and feta, and we reinforce the pork entree with salami. Plus, no mayonnaise.

 Caramel Apple Pie (pictured above). Yes, it’s an all-American cliche. But it’s also caramel. And it can be made a couple of days ahead of time.


(Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)
Spicy Grilled Pepper & Eggplant Spread. Wherever you go in Sarajevo, ajvar is close by. I grew fond of the zesty pepper-and-eggplant mash when I spent a Christmas with my family in Bosnia and Herzegovina; these days, ajvar is the one thing I always have in my refrigerator. I love it slathered on grilled bread, but crackers make nice supports as well.
Chicken and Tomato Meatballs. Meatballs remind me of my Minnesota youth. This recipe is an enlightened version of the ground -beef-and-gravy version I grew up on.
Grilled Corn, Peach and Poblano Salad (pictured above). Corn and peaches are two of my favorite flavors of summer. Stir in some heat, in the form of chili peppers and vinegar, and you’ve got a salad that weaves heat with sweet.
Buttermilk Pie With Rhubarb Compote. This comforting pie comes from Valerie Hill of Johnny’s Half Shell, one of the best sweets makers around. Her dessert comes with a fine crunch in its crust, thanks to cornmeal, and gets a welcome jolt in its compote from fresh ginger.