Summer, it appears, is about to close in on us with a vengeance. Time to dust off the picnic basket, grab a soft blanket and some big pillows and head for a secluded spot for a romantic dinner. Or just eat in your backyard, if you don’t want to go to a local park. All you need is a special person, a bottle of whatever you like to drink and the following menu and you’ll have a dinner you’ll want to repeat all summer long.

Here’s my idea of what to take:

First, cold game hens. Okay, you don’t like fussing with those little Cornish birds. Grab a rotisserie chicken from your favorite grocery store the day before your picnic and chill it overnight. Voila–cold chicken.

Next, a salad of some sort–I like fruit salad with this menu. You can make your own or pick it up at the deli counter when you get your chicken.

A Thermos of cold tomato/basil soup is an excellent addition. (A recipe I like is below.)

A loaf of crusty bread goes nicely and dessert is a must. Brownies, I think.

Take along some device for playing music–my iPad has all my favorites on it–and you have the makings of a memorable summer picnic. I promise.

Recipe for tomato/basil soup

1 lb. ripe tomatoes

1 bunch of fresh basil, leaves stripped from stems and finely chopped

1 cup chicken stock

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender until soup is the desired consistency. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Chill overnight.

Makes enough for 2.



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