Picnic Food Ideas for a Crowd

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focaccia Italian sub

Labor Day weekend is fast approaching, the unofficial mark of summers end. If you’re going to a picnic or a family get together for your last hurrah, here’s a couple of things you can bring along and not worry about it spoiling from sitting around in the heat.

We recently had a big family picnic and although there were grills on site, we didn’t feel like grilling, so I was thinking what I could bring to share that would be big enough to feed a bunch of people, Italian sub sandwiches of course!

round focaccia

I decided I would switch it up this time and make them on focaccia bread, and although the picture may not show it well, these were huge, like the size of a 14 inch pizza.

Living in the Chicagoland area I’m fortunate to have access to many places where I can easily go and pick up some of these delicious breads, some are round, some are rectangle, all shapes would work for this, and of course you can always make your own.

focaccia Italian sub

I love this type of focaccia with the tomatoes stuck into it, it lends so much flavor to the sandwich but it does takes a little patience when slicing it in half horizontally.

You’ll need a small pairing knife and a large serrated knife. You’ll also want to make sure your focaccia is at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. Use the pairing knife and score the center of the outside edge all the way around, this will just be your guideline so be careful not to cut into it too deep.

Then take the large serrated knife and SLOWLY cut through the focaccia, pressing on the top ever so slightly with your hand as you move back and forth until you reach the other side using your pairing knife marking as the guide, then gently separate the halves.

Italian sub ingredients

The sky’s the limit as to what you want to fill your subs with, I opted for swiping basil pesto on each side of the bread with a nice drizzle of olive oil all over, then I layered with slices of aged provolone cheese, mortadella, salami and a handful of arugula. Like I said before, the tomato focaccia has so much flavor so you really don’t need much more of anything else!

focaccia Italian sub

The best part is they make a great presentation on the table placed on a couple of round Party Store platters that I picked up.

I couldn’t cut them fast enough, needless to say they were a hit!

caprese pasta salad ingredients

I also brought along this Caprese Pasta salad which I like to make this time of year with the abundance of cherry tomatoes that still have their intense flavor.

I cooked my pasta the night before, ( 2 lbs.) cooled it down, drizzled it with olive oil and put it into a zip bag overnight and also cubed up a log and a half of fresh mozzarella cheese.

The morning of the picnic I quartered all my tomatoes, a t least 2 big containers, dowsed it all with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Let it sit a bit so the juices can mingle, then tossed in your pasta and cheese adding more oil, basil and salt if needed.

caprese pasta salad

Both are easy to do, a nice presentation, and feeds a crowd, oh and of course taste amazing!


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  1. Some awesome ideas here. There’s something about focaccia that makes a sandwich taste so much better!

  2. I saw your post yesterday and knew I just had to make all of it. So today we enjoyed the most perfect focaccia. The pesto and arugala really tips the sandwich over the top. The pasta salad was so simple yet very flavorful. Your post was perfectly timed for the excessive heat we’ve had in Chicago the last couple of days. Both recipes are keepers. Thanks for another great post.

  3. Great minds must think alike! I just posted a Focaccia Pugliese! And I can’t think of anything better for a picnic a focaccia. Yours looks wonderful and how clever ( which you aways are) of you to stuff it with delicious Italian meats. Yum!!!!!! Your pasta salad looks wonderful. Pinning both recipes. I’ve been in such a mood to bake. Do you think it’s like right before we gave birth we had to hurry and clean everything. Now I’m anticipating cold weather and I have to bake, bake, bake? Anyway, have a happy Labor Day — again a birth reference 🙂 . Buona giornata.

  4. What a great (and tasty) idea!!!

  5. I love using Focaccia for sandwiches. I make them in cake pans and then make a frittatta for the filling. Love your salad recipe too!

  6. How funny and perfect you posted this because I suggested just today to a friend that she make one of these big focaccia sandwiches for our next foodie book club, which is centered on a book about New Orleans. If you put some of that olive paste in it, you’ve got a muffaletta. I’ll bet the tomatoes on the top make it even more delicious. Happy Labor Day, Marie.

  7. Two of my favorite things 🙂

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