Cool, crunchy salads featuring the gifts of the season will lift your spirits. And a chocolate-marshmallow ending makes the meal even better. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I love a picnic, especially one that includes foods that can be put together early, then savored when everyone feels like eating. It’s a pandemic summer so why be on a schedule? There’s no need to hover over the backyard grill at the last minute or stop the badminton game just when it’s getting interesting.

Take an hour or so in the morning to prep a couple salads along with lemonade and iced tea to serve with crusty bread and watermelon. Whip up some chocolate treats to pair with roasted marshmallows or ice cream for later and you’re good.

Salad with steak is a favorite and I especially like to add radishes. (Later in the summer, you can replace those itty-bitty tomatoes with some substantial slices of big boys ripe off the vine.)

I’m fond of potato salad with a twist and this is a good one. Steamed vegetables are nice, but if I have the oven going for something else, I like them roasted. If you don’t want to mix the sauce with the vegetables, feel free to serve it on the side.

Our family is always on the lookout for new ways to incorporate s’mores into our lives. These simple make-ahead chocolate smidgens are a treat that even the littles can help make. Form small teaspoon-size bites or fashion larger, flatter cookies for sandwiching that roasted marshmallow. These chocolate-on-the-outside s’mores are a bit messy, but worth it.

I hope you have many picnics in your life this summer!

Marinated Steak Salad with Radishes & Cheese

1 1/2 pounds steak (skirt, hanger or flank)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups salad greens
1 cup micro greens or sprouts
1 (8-ounce package) grape tomatoes
1 cup coleslaw mix
1 cup broccoli and/or cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, diced
3 scallions, minced
1 cup soft cheese crumbles (goat, feta, Gorgonzola or blue cheese)

Cook steak on an oiled grill, turning once, for 6 minutes or so (for medium-rare). Allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
Combine vegetables in a large bowl and add steak. Serve with vinaigrette. Yield: 6 servings

Vinaigrette

3 cloves garlic
1 2/3 cups fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, pulse the garlic and herbs. With the machine running, slowly add the remaining ingredients. (You can also make this by chopping the herbs very finely with a sharp knife.)

Little Potatoes & Asparagus with Egg Sauce

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon or parsley

Prep 1: Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with a couple of inches of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes or until tender. Add asparagus to the pan and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Cool completely.

Prep 2: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, place on baking sheet and roast until nearly tender and beginning to brown, stirring once, for about 12 minutes. Toss asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil and add to baking sheet. Roast for 5 minutes or until tender. Cool completely.

Place vegetables in a serving bowl and toss with sauce. Garnish with herbs. Yield: 6 servings

Egg Sauce

2 eggs, hard-boiled
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine or sherry vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers in brine
4 cornichon or gherkin pickles, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs. Combine mustard with yolks in a bowl and mash together. Whisk in vinegar and oil. Fold in remaining ingredients.

No-bake S’more Cookies

1 2/3 cups milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 cups Golden Grahams cereal
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Place chocolate and oil in the top of a double-boiler and stir until melted. This can also be accomplished in a large microwave-safe bowl, uncovered, at 50% power in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

Gently fold cereal and marshmallows into chocolate. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

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