Pack Lightly

Fresh flavors and seasonal ingredients make these picnic recipes perfect for a waterfront meal.

When calendar pages flip to summer months, picnics become the meal of choice for a leisurely afternoon with friends. And if you're blessed with consistently warm, sunny weather, eating outside gives you that summer feeling year-round.

The Salmon Niçoise Pasta Salad is a twist on the classic French dish, with hearty noodles and salmon in place of the traditional tuna. A grilled vegetable salad makes good use of seasonal favorites-zucchini, squash, peppers, and basil-accented by creamy goat cheese.

For a light finish, try Lemon-Mint Melon Compote. (The quick dish is even easier when you buy cut fruit from the market.)

These three simple salads can be made up to a day ahead, giving you more time to plan activities.

 Salmon Niçoise Pasta Salad 

 Lemon-Mint Melon Compote 

 Grilled Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese 

Picnic Pointers

Whether you're planning a portable feast on your sailboat or simply cruising to the local park, follow these guidelines for a tasty and safe outdoor meal.

• Freeze bottled water and juices in plastic bottles for cool drinks later in the day. Pack with the food to keep items chilled.

• Bring a plastic tarp to place under your blanket or quilt if the ground is damp.

• Pack antibacterial gel for eager shell hunters and sand castle builders to use before eating.

• Eat soon after setting up your picnic so food doesn't reach unsafe temperatures.

• Remember to bring along bags for trash you'll dispose of later.

• Bring moist towelettes for before-and after-mealtime cleanup. Improvise with several damp paper towels folded in a zip-top bag.

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