As much as I love cooking, when I have friends over, I don’t always want to make a huge production out of the meal. It’s not that I’m looking to cut corners on providing food for my guests – quite the opposite, actually. I find that when I set out a sumptuous spread of bits and bites covering the dining room table, everyone immediately brightens at the thought of an indoor picnic. It’s an invitation for your guests to kick up their heels and graze leisurely and lazily – a kind of free-form fiesta and a most relaxing way to entertain company.

A Ploughman’s Lunch – as the name implies – was a lunch packed for a ploughman to take out into the fields for his supper break. This iconic British pub fare is a hearty, cold meal consisting of a big hunk of cheddar cheese, meats, chutney and bread but can also include many other items, like boiled eggs and pickled onions.

Create your own Ploughman’s Lunch from any of the following for a perfect picnic – indoors or out.

  • Crusty bread or baguette
  • Fruits, like pears, sliced apples and grapes
  • Assorted cheeses
  • Assorted sliced meats
  • Chutney
  • Pickled onions
  • Mustard
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Pickles (Branston is traditional)
  • Pâté
  • Tomatoes
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Other vegetables, like baby carrots, celery or radishes

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