By Ro Kalonaros
August 01, 2014
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Love and Lemons

During summer, we want to dine al fresco every chance we can get, but trying to get dinner reservations outside can be frustrating and expensive.

Our solution? A picnic! Grab some friends, lay out a blanket, and mix and match a few of these simple recipes to create a portable meal with something for everyone. (With 40 different options to choose from, you can bring the rest to the endless succession of summer barbecues.)

Crostini

Rosemary and citrus zest add the perfect kick to the nutty crunch of this Italian-inspired crostini.

Jewel-red pomegranate seeds atop lush, green avocado give these picnic-perfect apps a Christmas-in-July feel.

Garlicky sautéed mushrooms and fresh chives (which are easy to grow in your garden!) make this wholesome crostini a whole lot to gush about at any picnic.

Sweet fig jam (or fresh figs if you can get them) and salty prosciutto mix perfectly with creamy, tangy goat cheese for a simple and delicious bite.

This fresh, green recipe will make you think twice about ditching the tops of beets. Velvety goat cheese perfectly sets off the bitterness of the beet greens for a flavor you've never dreamed of.

Ditch the bread and use grilled eggplant as a base instead! Top it with fiery-hot red pepper relish, and your mouth will thank you. Or curse you. Probably both.

The combination of syrupy peaches and salty, crumbly blue cheese will make your guests ignore everything else on the picnic blanket.

Think you hate kale? Try these parmesan- and gruyere-soaked greens and get back to us. Paired with zesty Dijon mustard, you won't be able to resist.

Capers and green olives provide the salty pep to garlicky artichoke hearts that will have your family and friends begging for the recipe.

Roasting the grapes and pairing them with savory ricotta balances their sweetness, while thyme lends freshness.

Salty bacon and smooth avocado take already delicious crab to the next level. Do we really need to say more?

It can't get much more fresh than this! Crispy radishes and cucumber combined with nutty, buttery chickpeas will make you think twice about settling for store-bought hummus.

Pairing sweet, juicy strawberries with warm, melted brie-then drizzling with honey and topping with fresh basil? Our mouths are watering.

Tangy and earthy chimichurri sauce on tender tri-tip steak will make you want to skip the main course at the barbecue and just have more of this app.

Spreads

This super simple version of the traditional eggplant spread combines lemon, tahini and sea salt into creamy, tangy goodness.

Craving a bagel with lox? Get your fill of lush cream cheese spiked with smoky salmon and a trio of sauces (Tabasco, worcestershire, and horseradish) with this spread.

With both cream cheese and shredded cheese (and just three other ingredients), this indulgent-tasting spread topped with fresh, peppery basil is as easy to make as it is delicious.

Edamame and miso go together like peanut butter and jelly. Nutty, starchy edamame contrasts with salty miso to lend depth of flavor-and vibrant color-to this Asian-inspired spread.

Always been a bit canning-curious? Start with this spicy jelly peppered with, well, peppers, and perfect for perking up a cheese plate.

Go Greek with this cool and tangy traditional spread. The key is in cucumbers.

Another traditional Greek dip, this one's smooth, light, and bursting with onion and tart lemon flavor. And, bonus: It calls for stale bread as an ingredient, so you can use the leftovers from one picnic to prep the next.

This combination of savory feta and sweet grapes and apples will have your guests begging for more (and they'll have no idea it was so easy).

Sweet, juicy tomatoes take on a smoky, burnt flavor after being baked and roasted.

Slow-cooking with sage, bay leaf and garlic gives silky puréed white beans a burst of flavor.

Smoky salmon, creamy Greek yogurt, and zesty lemon create a light, refreshing spread you'll want to bring to keep all to yourself.

This vibrant combination of fresh sweet and sour vegetables makes a tangy, flavorful topping for bread.

For a quicker take on white bean dip with all the roasted-garlic goodness, try this recipe using canned beans. (And bring gum!)

This classic, rustic spread is made fresh and earthy with parsley and walnuts.

Succulent figs add the perfect amount of sweetness to set off salty olives.

Rich, slightly sour sundried tomato and briny olives atop a mixture of silky feta and cream cheese is absolute heaven.

Your guests will devour this fast, delicious tapenade full of salty capers, fresh herbs, zesty garlic, and refreshing lemon.

Pate

Make this earthy, nutty mushroom spread a day before to really bring out the flavors. Bonus: It's vegan.

Earthy, peppery lentils and protein-packed brazil nuts add creamy texture to this simple, flavorful spread.

Velvety avocado studded with veggies, seeds, and nuts makes for a spread that not only looks striking, but tastes incredible.

Dessert

Combining in-season blueberries with citrus, cinnamon, and cloves makes for a mouth-watering and gorgeously deep-purple topper for toast points.

This homemade version has the richness and texture the supermarket version is missing, and it's dairy-free.

Tangy, sweet fruit mixed with fiery peppers dole out a punch of flavor.

Smeared with creamy white mascarpone cheese and topped with juicy red raspberries and blueberries, this dessert crostini is patriotic and scrumptious.

We're ecstatic that someone thought to combine peppery olive oil, bittersweet chocolate, and briny sea salt for this incredible sweet-and-savory creation.

Sounds a little weird, but white or kidney beans create a buttery, creamy spread that absorbs cocoa powder and coconut sugar for a dessert with more fiber and less fat.

Photo credits (in order of appearance): The Italian Dish, Bev Cooks, Culinary Bro Down, Foodie Crush, My Greek Dish, Cooking Spree, Garnish with Lemon, Ricki Heller, Ecurry

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