After swapping a career in the classical music industry for one as a natural chef and food writer (read her story here), Ceri Jones knows a thing or two about creating plates of food that look as good as they taste. Her rules for eating indoors and al fresco are the same: keep it simple and seasonal. Here are her tips and delicious recipes for a summer picnic. The only thing we can’t guarantee is the weather.

'My picnic pet hates would include anything that won’t carry well. There are certain things you can do with dishes to prep your bits before like chop up some nuts and put them in a tub and use them as a garnish. Marinated salads do really well once they’ve been sitting in their dressing and actually taste better - fattoush would be one, tabbouleh would be another. There’s a really nice salad with a thick beetroot tahini dressing, again it’s another one that’s better when it sits in it. You don’t need to have fifty thousand dishes, a picnic is basically just a meal eaten outside so keep it as simple as you would do at home.'

Roasted Beets & Radish with Freekeh, Quick Pickled Onion & Blackberries

Serves 4-6 as a side dish


For the dish:
200g freekeh (or other nutty, chewy wholegrains such as spelt, or for gluten free try buckwheat)
800g beetroot (reserve stems for pickle), scrubbed and cut into 2cm pieces
400g radish, sliced in half through the root
150g blackberries, sliced in half if large
1 clove garlic, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

For the quick pickled onion:
1 red onion, thinly sliced
50g beet stems, trimmed to 1cm pieces
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey

To serve at the picnic:
handful watercress or other peppery seasonal green salad leaf
handful pistachios, roughly chopped (carry to picnic in a small jar)
200g creamy white cheese such as feta or goat, crumbled


1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (fan).
2. Pickle your onion and beet stems. Mix them with the vinegars and honey, then set aside for 30 mins - 1hr while they pickle, tossing regularly.
3. Next roast your veg. Place the chopped beets and radishes on two separate baking trays along with a good glug of olive oil and a healthy pinch of salt. Place in the oven, cook the radishes for around 30 minutes and the beetroot for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven when fork tender and allow to cool.
4. Next cook your freekeh. Place in a saucepan with 1 litre water, a pinch of salt and a tbsp. of olive oil. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender. You want the freekeh to be cooked through, but still retain some bite. Then drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.
5. Finally make the dressing. Steal two tablespoons of the onion pickling vinegar and whisk this with three tablespoons of olive oil and a clove of minced garlic.
6. Place the freekeh, cooked beets and radish, blackberries, pickled onions and beet stems in a large bowl and toss through the dressing. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and pack up your salad for your picnic.
7. Add peppery watercress, chopped pistachios and cheese at your picnic.

Wild Blackberry and Thyme Madeleines

Makes 24


180g salted goat butter (or sub for regular butter), plus extra for greasing.
180g brown rice flour
30g tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 medium eggs
140g unrefined golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons honey
Zest of a lemon
2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
150g small wild blackberries


1. Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat till it melts and starts to brown. Take off heat and allow to cool.
2. Meanwhile mix together the brown rice flour, tapioca flour and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl whisk together the eggs with the sugar, honey and lemon zest for a few minutes until light and frothy. Add the flours into the wet ingredients and whisk briefly to combine, now add the thyme. Finally pour in the melted butter and give it one final quick whisk.
3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 190°C (fan).
5. Using a pastry brush, brush a little melted butter into the madeleine pan.
6. Pipe in the batter into each mold, till ¾ full, then drop in 5 small blackberries into each one, pushing in slightly.
7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8-10 minutes, till risen in the middle and fully cooked through. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then ease them out onto a cooling rack. (If you only have 1 madeleine pan, rinse out, re-butter and start again.)

Wild foraged blackberries are often smaller and perfect for dropping into the batter of the bite-size cakes.
You will need a madeleine pan.
These are gluten free as I’ve used brown rice flour. You could also use regular flour or 210g spelt flour instead of the brown rice and tapioca flour.

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