In our small hometown, Sunday evening's concert in the park is more than just a gathering of locals and tourists. It's how we mark the passage of time between May and September.
Over the years, we've become picnicking experts. My top two pieces of advice on picnic planning are keep it simple and keep it flavorful. Because the getting ready — packing up a tablecloth or blanket and all the dishes — takes time, I've learned to make the menu extra simple. But extra simple doesn't mean sacrificing on flavor.
My solution is to turn to a trusted supermarket shortcut, the rotisserie chicken, as a starting point for a deceptively simple, yet unbelievably complex-tasting, chicken salad. A very distant cousin to the over-creamy chicken salad Grandma used to make, this dish gets its garlicky-herbaceous flavor from pre-made pesto. A generous helping of lemon zest adds depth and balance. But the secret of this dish is the capers, brine included.
Pack a thermal container of this chicken salad along with whole wheat pita halves, a head of lettuce for lettuce wraps, raw vegetables and a big bunch of grapes, and you have a strong picnic game for Sunday, or anytime.