Thousands will gather near SEPTA terminals next Thursday, Aug. 22, waiting for organizers to reveal the location of the eighth edition of Philadelphia’s Diner en Blanc — the massive outdoor dinner party where you bring your own tables, chairs, and food. If you scored tickets to the sold-out event, it’s time to start planning not only your all-white getup but also what to pack.

But even if you’re not attending, mid-August marks the start of prime picnic season: As summer bleeds into fall, the humidity settles down, cool breezes start up, and a blanket in the park becomes an unbeatable backdrop for dinner. You can’t go wrong with a spread of cheese, meat, nuts, olives, jams, and dips, and some good bread or crackers.

For one-stop shopping, visit a specialty grocer, like Di Bruno Bros. (which sells ready-made cheeseboards), or a supermarket with robust prepared food selections like Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic Market, or Sprouts Farmers Market. Or head to a cafe/market, such as Tela’s on Fairmount Avenue, Talula’s Daily on Washington Square, and Milk and Honey by Clark Park. Besides extensive beer options, the Foodery’s four locations also sell sandwiches and snacks; the Northern Liberties outpost is three blocks from Liberty Lands park.

Or assemble a complete meal over a handful of stops in Reading Terminal Market. Get sandwiches at Hershel’s, fruit at Iovine Brothers, cheese and charcuterie at Downtown Cheese, bread from Metropolitan Bakery, plus chocolates, pastries, or cookies for dessert.

Want to prepare your own picnic fare? Here are five recipes from Philly chefs that are designed to travel well.

Barcelona Sandwich with Red Pepper Aioli

Spanish meats and cheese layered on a crusty baguette give this sandwich edge, as does tangy aioli. Makes 4 sandwiches

Fette Sau's brown sugar- and espresso-based dry rub, from Joe Carroll's 'Feeding the Fire.'
Courtesy of Plenty Cafe
The Barcelona sandwich from Plenty Cafe, featuring chorizo, serrano ham, and Mahon cheese.

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup roasted peppers

¼ cup Peppadew peppers

1 tablespoon cornichons

1 tablespoon capers

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Four 10-inch demi-baguettes (or 2 whole, halved)

4 cups arugula

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon lemon juice

8 ounces sliced serrano ham

8 ounces sliced chorizo

8 ounces sliced Mahón cheese

2 large tomatoes, sliced


For the red pepper aioli: Place mayonnaise, roasted and Peppadew peppers, cornichons, capers, salt, and pepper into a food processor; puree until smooth. Taste and season.


For the sandwich: Toast the baguettes. In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Spread a generous layer of aioli on both sides of the bread. Place a handful of arugula on the bottom half; top with a few slices each of the ham, chorizo, and cheese. Finish with two slices of the tomato and the top half of the baguette. Repeat for the remaining sandwiches. Wrap in foil, and refrigerate until serving.


— Courtesy of Anthony Mascieri of Plenty Cafe

Summer Corn and Spinach Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

This cumin-laced salad makes the most of in-season corn. Serves 4

Fette Sau's brown sugar- and espresso-based dry rub, from Joe Carroll's 'Feeding the Fire.'
GRACE DICKINSON / Staff
Summer corn and spinach salad with cilantro vinaigrette from Vedge chef Rich Landau.

6 to 8 ears of corn, kernels shaved from the cob

¼ cup sunflower or other neutral oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 pound baby spinach

1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup diced celery

¼ cup minced jalapeño


Vinaigrette

1 cup sunflower or other neutral oil

1 cup of cilantro leaves, packed

¼ cup lime juice

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin


For the corn: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a mixing bowl, toss the shaved corn with the oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. Spread the mixture over two large baking sheets and roast for 15 to 25 minutes, until the kernels are golden. Remove from heat, cool, then place in a large salad bowl.


For the vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.


For the salad: Combine the spinach, beans, onion, celery, and jalapeño with the roasted corn. Toss in ⅓ cup of the vinaigrette. Taste and season.


— Courtesy of chef Rich Landau of Vedge

Beets with Apples and Ricotta Salata

A tangy brine flavors these beets as they cook; fresh apple provides a crisp, lightly sweet contrast. Serves 8

Fette Sau's brown sugar- and espresso-based dry rub, from Joe Carroll's 'Feeding the Fire.'
GRACE DICKINSON / Staff
Beets with apples and ricotta salata from High Street on Market chef Andrew Farley.

4 large beets, washed

4 cups champagne vinegar

1 cup sugar

½ cup salt

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 star anise pod

2 apples, diced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup crumbled ricotta salata or feta

Fresh chives, parsley, chervil, or tarragon leaves, to taste


In a large pot, combine the first eight ingredients. Add water until the beets are submerged. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a low. Simmer until the beets are fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.


While the beets are still warm, rub them with a paper towel to remove the skin. When cool, cut into cubes. Toss with the apples, lemon juice, and olive oil. Finish with the ricotta salata and a handful of fresh herbs.


— Courtesy of chef Andrew Farley of High Street on Market

Toasted Grain Salad with Summer Vegetables

Toasting farro and couscous brings out their inherent nuttiness; a tahini- and sunflower seed-driven dressing complements that. Serves 8

Fette Sau's brown sugar- and espresso-based dry rub, from Joe Carroll's 'Feeding the Fire.'
GRACE DICKINSON / Staff
Toasted grains salad with summer vegetables from High Street on Market chef Andrew Farley.

½ cup farro

½ cup couscous

2 ears of corn, kernels shaved from the cob

1 bell pepper, chopped

½ red onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 cup green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 bunch of rainbow chard or kale, chopped

1 bunch parsley leaves, torn

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Zest from ½ lemon, grated

½ teaspoon sumac


Sunflower-Tahini Vinaigrette

1 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup grapeseed oil

½ cup olive oil

Salt, to taste


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the grains on a sheet pan and toast for 10 to 15 minutes; set aside.


In a large bowl, toss the corn, peppers, and onion with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet; roast for 10 minutes, until edges start to char. Set aside to cool.


In a medium pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the toasted couscous, reduce heat to low, and simmer until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool. Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the toasted farro, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until al dente, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.


Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the green beans and cook until they begin to blister. Transfer the beans to a bowl, then add the chard to the hot pan and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to the bowl with the beans and let cool.


For the dressing: Place all ingredients but the oils in a blender. Blend, adding a little hot water to loosen as needed. With the blender on low, slowly add both oils until emulsified; taste and season with salt.


In a large bowl, combine the cooked grains and vegetables with the parsley, oregano, lemon zest, and sumac. Toss with ⅓ cup of the vinaigrette. Taste and season. Refrigerate until picnic time.


— Courtesy of chef Andrew Farley of High Street on Market

Baba Ghanouj

This creamy Middle Eastern eggplant dip capitalizes on summer produce. Makes about 2 cups

Fette Sau's brown sugar- and espresso-based dry rub, from Joe Carroll's 'Feeding the Fire.'
GRACE DICKINSON / Staff
Baba ghanouj from Stina Pizzeria co-owner and head chef Bobby Saritsoglou.

1 large eggplant

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

4 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup pomegranate seeds (from ½ pomegranate fruit)


Using a gas stove, roast the eggplant by placing it on the front burner over medium heat, turning with tongs every few minutes to evenly char. Cook until the skin looks black, and the flesh is soft all the way through when pierced, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then cut lengthwise and scrape out flesh with a spoon. Set aside.


In a small skillet, heat the oil over low. Add the garlic cloves and let simmer until soft and slightly browned.


In a food processor, combine the eggplant flesh, the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, cumin, and salt; process until smooth.


Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and more mint leaves, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita or crusty bread.


— Courtesy of chef Bobby Saritsoglou of Stina Pizzeria

Summer Peach Cake

This is a cross between a cobbler and a cake. Use only the scraped seeds from the vanilla bean pod, but save the pod to make vanilla sugar or extract. Serves 8

Fette Sau's brown sugar- and espresso-based dry rub, from Joe Carroll's 'Feeding the Fire.'
Courtesy of Essen Bakery
Summer Peach Pudding via Essen Bakery’s Tova du Plessis.

5 peaches, quartered

1 tablespoon brown or raw sugar

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 vanilla bean pod, scraped

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature, divided

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup cake flour, sifted

1½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt


In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the peaches, brown sugar, ginger, vanilla bean seeds, and ¼ cup water. Cook until the sugar begins to caramelize and the fruit starts to soften. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and toss until melted.


Grease a 9-inch round or 9-by-13-inch baking dish (use a Pyrex with a lid for picnics). Arrange the peaches in a single layer on the bottom, scraping all the liquid from the skillet into the dish.


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the white sugar and remaining ½ cup of butter on medium until light and fluffy. With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time. Mix until well combined. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low until just combined. Scrape down the bowl. Spoon gobs of batter over and around the peaches.


Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top feels springy. For a picnic, top with lightly sweetened mascarpone cheese.


— Courtesy of Tova du Plessis of Essen Bakery