Smoked Turkey Wraps and Avocado-Cucumber Tomato Salad

Why is it that eating food outside, especially at a picnic, can be more enjoyable than the same meal indoors? It often takes more effort: we pack up food and drinks in coolers, snacks in a bag or snazzy picnic basket, plus we need plates, forks, knives, spoons, and napkins. Then possibly chairs, toys for kids (and/or adults), and then we have to pack it up in the car. But, there is something about a picnic. Dining “al fresco”—it even sounds better than dining “al house.”

When my brother was in town visiting from Sacramento recently, we “went wild” and rather than hanging out in my sister and brother-in-law’s backyard like we usually do, the family gathered at Minnehaha Falls park for a picnic. It was one of those really hot days, too, but we all agreed it was a welcome change of pace. My brother-in-law even rented one of those canopy-covered multi-person bikes, which he had wanted to do for some time, and people took turns tootling around the park—you can’t do that in their backyard. (They don’t have a waterfall either.)

The easiest way to enjoy an outdoor meal even more is when the work is done in advance so you can just sit down and enjoy. (A tablecloth is a nice touch over a well-used public picnic table, too.) One idea for an easy do-ahead meal is this wrap sandwich and cool salad by Alison Lewis, author of 400 Best Sandwich Recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments, which appeared in Real Food. While sandwiches are certainly simple, it’s the sauces and additional ingredients that add flavorful touches to the basics a person tends to make at home. The side salad takes advantage of the harvest of cucumbers and tomatoes still in abundance. (Wrapping the sandwiches in parchment paper or plastic wrap and allowing them to sit for a bit in the fridge helps hold it together when it’s time to enjoy.) Now we just need to work in a few more picnics in the precious waning days of summer.

Smoked Turkey Wraps

Serves 8

½ c. stone ground mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. cider vinegar
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1½ lbs. thinly sliced smoked turkey
8 turkey bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
4 c. loosely packed baby spinach or arugula leaves

Whisk together mustard, honey, and vinegar in a small bowl. Spread honey mustard evenly over each of the tortillas. Top with turkey, bacon, and spinach or arugula. Roll up, wrap in parchment paper, and chill for at least 30 minutes. Cut in half to serve.

Avocado-Cucumber Tomato Salad

Serves 6

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 cucumbers, peeled
2 c. chopped and seeded tomatoes
¼ c. chopped red onion
2 green onions, chopped
2 avocados, seeded and chopped
¼ c. crumbled feta cheese

To make dressing, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and avocado in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and feta cheese. Chill until serving.

Nutrition info (per serving): Turkey Wraps: CALORIES 409 (120 from fat); FAT 13g (sat. 3g); CHOL 55mg; SODIUM 1932mg; CARB 45g; FIBER 2g; PROTEIN 26g. Avocado-Cucumber Tomato Salad: CALORIES 180 (135 from fat); FAT 15g (sat. 3g); CHOL 6mg; SODIUM 147mg; CARB 11g; FIBER 5g; PROTEIN 3g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.