A picnic for Mother's Day

Team up with the kids to make an easy alfresco lunch
KATE WASHINGTON

Mother's Day brunch is a tradition, but all too often it means a morning of fighting crowds in a restaurant or an afternoon of cleaning up at home. Instead, head out into the spring sunshine for a peaceful picnic lunch this year.

A simple French-style rice salad and mildly pickled asparagus make a delicious meal, rounded out with baguettes, cheese, and radishes or olives. For dessert, jam thumbprints are the perfect project for little hands. In fact, all the recipes here are kid-tested: without help, our team of two 12-year-olds made the entire menu in less than three hours. The whole meal packs into a basket or backpack to take to a park, on a hike, or just out to the backyard for a relaxed celebration with the family.

 

Cooking with kids: This menu is designed for children of all ages to help with and older ones to produce on their own.

  • Make as much as possible ahead of time. The best picnic is the one at which neither kids nor grown-ups are exhausted from cooking and cleaning up. Most of our dishes can be made, at least in part, a day or two ahead.
  • Do some basic prep work before asking young children to help you. They will love making thumbprints in the cookies but might have trouble sitting still for less glamorous tasks like stemming cherry tomatoes.
  • Do steps involving heat yourself when working with kids under 8. Make sure older ones use caution—and pot holders—at the stove or oven.
  • Give shorter kids a stepladder or stool to stand on at the counter or stove. If they have to reach up, the chances for spills increase.
  • Use scissors rather than knives to cut herbs, or simply tear the parsley into pieces. To eliminate any knife work in this menu, press the garlic into the salad dressing.

Recipes:

Rice Salad Niçoise

Quick-Pickled Asparagus

Jam Thumbprints