Picnic Time — Le temps du pique-nique

Let’s go there later in the day,” P. told me when I mentioned I wanted to have a picnic at the beach on Sunday. “It’s going to be hot before then, I can tell.

Yeah, I guess you are right,” I responded, feeling somewhat a tad disappointed since my plan had been to leave early in the morning. “It will be better, we will avoid the crowd and the heat. But eh, what about having dinner at the beach then?


This idea was already making me feel better. And completely excited. We never think often enough to have dinner at the beach. Yet, how nice to look at the sun set on the ocean while eating with our feet dug into the sand. Franchement pas mal !

We checked the weather forecast to make sure that there weren’t any thunderstorms in the making that we were not aware of. On ne sait jamais (you never know) with New England weather. Chance was on our side. Thus our plan was made and the rest followed naturally.

The last few days had been really hot and humid. We’d had weather to make you sweat at even a lift of an eyebrow, or each breath of air inhaled. Even my almost daily visits to the nearby pool — quite conveniently located, I must say — were not enough to ease it up.

The thought of the beach and a dinner picnic?

Frankly, it was the perspective of a great time.

I love picnics. I love to pack picnic baskets too.

Perhaps because I like picnics so much — I am honestly as fond of picnic utensils, baskets and dinnerware as of picnic foods — ideas kept coming to my head, with too many choices and options from which to choose from. Would I bake something? Make sandwiches? Or rather prepare a few salads?

Tu préfères des sandwichs ou des tartetettes aux légumes ?” (do you prefer sandwiches or vegetable tartlets?) I said quite busy writing down a short shopping list to prepare for the picnic.

I don’t know why I even bothered to ask.

Des tartelettes !” P. exclaimed. No hesitation involved.

Lime Poppyseed Cakes (recipe found again!)

I spent Sunday morning preparing all sorts of easy-to-pack foods. I did not choose one option, I wanted them all. Leftovers of the lunch we’d enjoyed the day before came in handy: cooked red quinoa and chickpeas were combined into a salad, with fresh herbs, diced scallions and pink radishes, and I also decided to complete this piece of our meal with our salade de carottes rituelle française oblige ! Then I started working on the tartlets.

It is really my mum’s delicious tarte au thon, the very one she used to prepare every now and then when she was looking for a quick dinner idea, that inspired my recipe. When she prepared hers, my mum would brush la pâte (the pie crust) with moutarde forte de Dijon (strong Dijon mustard) and top it with chunks of tuna marinated in olive oil, fresh slices of tomatoes and grated cheese. For dinner, we always enjoyed the tart eaten warm, accompanied by a large green salad seasoned with a vinaigrette she was the only one to have the secret of, and if there was any leftovers, we would snack on them at odd times of the day.

My recipe used her basis but I also customized it. Starting with the crust, I knew I wanted to use olive oil instead of butter and like my mum, I used tuna for the topping. My mum is the one in our family who taught me how to recycle leftovers. I remember that we used to tease her about it, even finding her a nickname when we jokingly called her Madame Tupperware. Years later, I was far from imagining that, while I was still living with parents, my dad would also find me a nickname: la Miss des petits pots au frigo.

It surely comes handy today.

For the crust, I used three types of flours: brown rice, quinoa and millet — all wonderful in flavor. I also added poppyseeds for a nice color touch and crunchiness. As to the topping, in addition to tuna and tomatoes, I also marinated zucchini slices in olive oil and thyme, and added slices of red onions and crumbled fresh goat cheese.

What time are we leaving again?” I asked P. as I was busy taking the tartlets out of the oven. They only needed twenty-five minutes to bake.

Three,” he said. “Mmm, ca a l’air super bon ça,

Don’t touch! It is our dinner!” P. always likes to steal bits and pieces of food when I cook.

I am going to make something sweet too,” I added.

I knew well that this would please him.

Quinoa Cakes with Rhubarb, Strawberry and Pistachios

Refreshing slices of melon, watermelon, or ripe peaches are always a nice touch to a picnic basket but this time, I preferred to bring a bowl of deliciously crunchy Rainier cherries picked at the market. My spontaneous purchase of red rhubarb and local strawberries, for which I had had no baking plan beside making sure to enjoy them while they are in season, inspired me to improvise a few light fruit cakes baked in small ramekins. They also used quinoa flour, and my favorite Sicilian green pistachios.

The cakes turned out so delicious that despite trying not to, we ate the first two before leaving. But since my recipe called for four, I packed the other two for our dinner picnic. I sensed that eaten by the spoon, they would really finish our meal nicely.

When we arrived at the beach, the heat had almost completely vanished. Most people had already left too, to our delight. We walked for a while to reach a completely secluded place and then, we sat down. The blanket I spread on the sand was large enough for four people to lie on it. Quite comfortable for the two of us, and our picnic.

It was quite windy. After a short dip in the water, still cold at this time of year despite the outside temperature, we took a long nap. Then, when we started to feel hungry, we arranged the food on our improvised outdoors table: we had plastic plates, forks, napkins, homemade limeade and glasses. We passed the food between the two of us without feeling any need to talk. Instead, we simply enjoying the quietness. The scenery.

A couple walked by us as they were leaving the beach. They looked beaten by the wind and hot afternoon sun.

Mmmm, this looks good,” the tall skinny tanned man said with a large friendly smile.

Thanks!” I said, returning his smile.

We dug our feet into the sand which felt cold and cooling as it covered our skin.

The sun was starting to set too, casting a warm light all around us. We smiled, feeling content as we listened to the noise made by the waves breaking on the sand.

Shall we do it again next week?” P. said.

I smiled.

He didn’t need to ask me twice.

Mustard-Flavored Tuna and Vegetable Tartlets

Mustard-Flavored Tuna and Vegetable Tartlets

(For 4 tartlets)

For the olive oil crust:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour*
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour*
  • 1/2 cup millet flour*
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp cold water
  • 1 Tbsp poppyseeds

Note: * you can always substitute with all-purpose flour

  • In a bowl (or the bowl of the mixer), place the different flours, salt and poppyseeds . Add the egg and mix in. Then incorporate the oil slowly before finishing with the water, adding 1 Tbsp at a time. Add more water if need be.
  • Shape the dough into a ball, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Note that if you do the gluten free version, the crust will be crumblier, harder to work with. You can always add 1 tsp of xantham gum to help the texture, I prefer not to.
  • Let the dough rest for one hour in the fridge.

For the topping:

  • 1 to 2 small zucchinis, according to size
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese (Petit Billy)
  • Dijon mustard
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp tuna in a can, marinated in olive oil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • Olive oil
  • About 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced


  • Using a sharp knife, or a mandoline, slice the zucchinis lengthwise.
  • Place them in a bowl and add the thyme and about 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, roll the dough and place it in your four tartlet molds. Make little holes with a fork and brush the bottom with mustard.
  • Add 1 Tbsp (or a little more) of tuna on top, and then add the cheese.
  • Alternate the slices of zucchinis , red onions and tomatoes. Add a splash of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake (oven preheated at 400 F) for about 25 minutes. These tartlets are delicious hot or eaten at room temperature. Perfect for your beach picnic.
Tartelettes à la moutarde, au thon et aux légumes

(Pour 4 tartelettes)

Pour la pâte brisée à l’huile d’olive :

  • 100 g de farine de riz complet*
  • 50 g de farine de quinoa*
  • 70 g de farine de millet*
  • Pincée de sel
  • 1 oeuf
  • 4 càs (60 ml) d’huile d’olive
  • 4 càs (60 ml) d’eau froide
  • 1 càs de graines de pavot

Étapes :

  • Mettez les ingrédients secs — farines, sel et graines de pavot — dans le bol de votre mixeur (ou dans un saladier). Cassez l’oeuf au milieu et incoporez-le doucement. Ajoutez l’huile d’olive et faites un sablage.
  • Ajoutez l’eau froide, 1 càs après l’autre, jusqu’à ce que la pâte forme une boule (plus si nécessaire). Veuillez noter que la version sans gluten est plus difficile à travailler, vous pouvez toujours décider d’ajouter 1 càc de gomme de xanthan.
  • Laissez-la reposer emballée dans un film alimentaire au frais pendant une heure au minimum.

Remarque : * vous pouvez remplacer par de la farine de blé type T45

Pour la garniture :

  • 1 à 2 petites courgettes, selon la taille
  • 120 g de chèvre frais (Petit Billy)
  • 4 à 6 càs de thon en boîte mariné à l’huile d’olive
  • Moutarde forte de Dijon
  • 1 oignon rouge, émincé
  • 1 càc de thym frais haché
  • Huile d’olive
  • 8 grosses tomates cerises, coupées en tranches

Etapes :

  • A l’aide d’un bon couteau ou d’une mandoline, coupez les courgettes en longues lanières fines.
  • Placez-les dans une jatte avec le thym; mélangez. Salez, poivrez et arrosez d’un filet d’huile d’olive. Laissez mariner de côté pendant 30 minutes minimum.
  • En attendant, étalez votre pâte. Piquez le fond avec une fourchette et foncez les moules à tartelette. Badigeonnez de moutarde forte.
  • Ajoutez les miettes de thon, puis celles de fromage frais.
  • Alternez ensuite les lanières de courgettes, les rondelles d’oignons rouges et de tomates. Arrosez d’un filet d’huile d’olive, salez et enfournez au four préchauffé à 200 C pendant environ 25 minutes. Ces tartelettes sont délicieuses consommées chaudes, ou à temperature ambiante, pour votre pique-nique.


  1. I love your pictures and envy your picnic accessories. Jerome and I scheduled a few picnics with 2 groups of friends next week and for the rest of the summer. We participate in a weekly petanque gathering in the park. As the master of picnic in my book, your recipes and suggestions will come handy for these events.

  2. Such a gorgeous picnic! Everything looks delicious! Those tartlets are beautiful…



  3. Mouth-watering, as always! Any chance you can post the recipe for your quinoa cakes? I just stocked up on quinoa flour and am looking for new ways to use it in dessert. Thanks!

  4. All I can say is “WOW”. The pictures. The food. The post. It is gorgeously thoughtful. B – What is the “wrap” item (top picture on the right?

  5. Quelle bonne idée ce pique-nique! Que de bonnes choses tu as préparées! Tu me donnes envie d’en organiser un aussi, avec mon homme. Et quelle belle plage vous avez à disposition! 🙂

  6. combien cela fait envie !! bientot a Boston que ns serons, je te laisse des confiotes ds ta boite a lettres ou tu les prends chez mes amis de Belmont ?! Si tu as besoin de qq chose de Suisse tu n’hesites pas !!

  7. voici le grand art du picnic.. de toute beaute..a reproduire d’urgence manque juste la tres belle plage….

  8. What a fabulous picnic….can’t believe you got all that ready the same day…Photos are FAB!!

  9. gorgeous picnic bea! I love the photo of the bike with all the food and flowers in the basket… so romantic…

  10. Simplement parfait! Quelle merveille de pique-nique Béa!Déliciousement décrit: Le menu, l’endroit, la brise de la mer, les ustensils bien disposés… Il se peut même imaginer les arômes! Et les photos… “no comment”! Tu nous fais des envieuses! S’il te plaît, appele moi pour le prochai, je t’apporterai quelque especialité espagnole!:-D Grobizou, Nat.

  11. Your beach pictures are my favorite!!! The Boston Globe needs to feature them and not just give the little pics. Unbelievable work!

  12. Unbelievable! I was recently given some tartlet pans as a gift and I have all of the ingredients for these in my kitchen right now. I know what I’m making this weekend. Thank you 🙂

  13. Nous aussi, nous voulons bien nous rejoindre avec quelques spécialités françaises pour le prochain piqu-nique!!!

  14. Comme je m’ennuie de la mer! L’odeur saline qui s’accroche aux narines, le sable qui se sauve sous les pieds… Généralement, je me trouve sur le bord de l’Atlantique quand j’en ai l’occasion (et encore, souvent, je n’ai la chance que de me rendre sur le bord du Golfe du Saint-Laurent [vous devinerez que je suis Québéoise! ;)]). Au printemps, par contre, j’ai eu le plaisir d’aller visiter des amis en Colombie-Britannique (de l’autre côté du Canada!), et j’ai pu pour la première fois me mettre les mains dans l’eau du Pacifique. Ce qu’il y a de remarquable dans l’Ouest, c’est que le soleil se couche du côté de l’océan. On le voit donc disparaître dans l’eau, qu’il teint au préalable de couleurs éclatantes! Magnifique!

    Cela dit, dans l’Ouest comme ici, un pique-nique sur le bord de l’eau reste enviable! 😉 Je suis très “sandwiches”, mais ces tartelettes me feront peut-être changer d’habitudes pour la prochaine fois. Merci pour cette belle recette!

  15. Hi!!

    I really love your pictures and recipes! So cute!!
    I´m from Brazil and me and more 3 friends made a blog too, called “4 amigas na cozinha” that means “4 friends at kitchen”. You can visit us at “http://4amigasnacozinha.blogspot.com”. We have a translate to languages like english and french.
    This month we are comemorating the beginning of the blog so we are inviting blog´s friends to send to us their recipes. If you want to participate just send one recipe. It would be a pleasure to all of us.
    Have a nice weekend!
    ¨4 amigas na cozinha”
    Fernanda, Leda, Jaqueline and Jack

  16. adorable and inspiring. I covet your multicolored layered container…where is it from?

  17. Pingback: A picnic to feel inspired by - The Tastemaker Diaries

  18. Tarte au thon was one of my favorite when I was a child. I love the beautiful pictures of your picnic.

  19. Fabulous! Years ago I lived in Boston and used to drive up to Plum Island for dinner on the beach. It’s the perfect time of day to be on the beach!

  20. I like picnic too! But, with current weather in London… it looks like it’s gonna rain or cloudy during the weekend! Yes, it’s summer….. NOT!

    Nice pictures as always!

  21. J’en ai l’eau a la bouche…On doit etre a 3 heures de Boston, je suis prete a faire la route, pour un tel picnic…

  22. Wonderful pictures and great recipe!!!

    Picnic at the beach sounds so nice and romantic…The last time I’ve had a picnic was actually when I was a kid. It would be great to have one with my husband some time. We don’t have a beach here, but still I’m sure we’ll find some lovely place to go 🙂

  23. I have fallen in love with the pictures of your Lime Poppyseed Cakes.
    If you could post the recipie, it would be absolutely lovely.

    I am an avid reader of your blog, and continue to enjoy every post. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  24. Thank you for posting so many beautiful and delicious things. I’ve already make one of yours recipes with quinoa flour and I felt in love with the way you cook. So inspirational!

  25. Un picnic avec autant de bonnes choses ne peut être qu’une réussite. La nature en écrin sauvage accompagne magnifiquement ce repas en plein air.

  26. Everything looks so gorgeously elegant and pretty! I am so jealous of your colourful picnic ware and the poppyseed cakes look superb.

  27. Pingback: Picnic Time - JOY.NU

  28. I made your tartlets yesterday and they taste amazing! Thank you for inspiring me to really cook again.
    I would also like to say that I love the portion sizes in the photos you post. I often feel overwhelmed by the volume of food shown in recipe books, etc. You get it just right.

  29. Lovely! What a delicious feast!
    I always neglect zucchini so will pick up at the Farmer’s Mkt this week and try with A.
    She says non! She had it cooked in a stir fry when she was on holiday and has [understandably] developed a bias against it. I hope to liberate her with your beautiful recipe! BTW-I adore Bento Boxes. Where did you get those? A perfect gift for A’s birthday, coming soon!


  30. Pls pls pls post the recipes for the lime poppyseed cakes and the quinoa cakes, they look to die for.

  31. What beautiful pinicwear! You’ve got fantastic taste! May I know where is the 3-tier pinic box from? It’s really nice and adds a nice touch to a pinic!

  32. ah, your evening beach picnic sounds so nice. I also love the feeling of digging your feet into the sand – so cool and comforting.

    The cheery pink polka dots are perfect against the green grass.

  33. p.s. I made the tartlet recipe with quinoa and buckwheat flour, skipping the goat cheese – love it! Making a second batch – and testing a stone fruit version with egg white peaks – as I type!

  34. j’aime beaucoup l’ambiance qui se dégage de ton billet, une vraie invitation au pique-nique ! Moi le pique-niqueur professionnel, je suis aux anges 😉 biz

  35. I love very much your pics. I am working in Paris now and I will return to my home town at the end of this year. But sure that I will return to your page many many times to see and read your foods. Love yours words!
    Nice day!

  36. L’art du pique-nique à la Béa : j’adore ! Il reste une petite place sur la serviette ???

  37. You have such colorful picnic accessories! And that food – I would LOVE to go on a picnic with you.

  38. Hi everyone, many many thanks for your visit and stopping by! Eh, picnics are fun, aren’t they?
    For those who already tried the tartlet, I am delighted to hear you enjoyed it. Yeah! That surely makes me happy!

    As to the picnic container, I bought mine in France on my last visit. There is not brand label on it though.

    Oh, and the recipe for the cakes, yes I will post it, let me bake them again once more!

  39. Tres belles photos Bea! Je fais souvent des picnics dans la campagne anglaise mais jamais encore en soiree. Je vais essaye ca ce weekend a Eastbourne si la meteo le permet.

  40. I love this tart recipe! I’ve used similar combinations of ingredients many times, but not quite like this. I’m searching out an opportunity to make them soon.

  41. Pingback: Detalhes » Blog Archive » La Tartine Gourmande - de crescer água na boca

  42. Je n’arrive jamais à bien étaler une pâte sans gluten mais je vois que tu as l’air de le faire à la perfection. Je dois manquer de pratique. Ces tartelettes salées sont vraiment sublimes.

  43. Gorgeous shots! I’ve never seen a vegetable tartlette before – very cute. I often gaze at the picnic supplies but have resisted so far, since space is at a premium in my apartment.

  44. Délicieuses tartelettes!
    La pâte est vraiment superbe! J’ai utilisé 3/4 de tasse de farine de riz complet, 3/4 de farine tout usage et 1/4 de tasse de farine de soya. L’ajout des graines de pavot est sensas!

  45. mmm… i made these last night, to the delight of me and my husband both. so fresh and tasty! thanks again for another great recipe!

  46. I made these tarts with the addition of acorn squash for a splash of yellow – and they were delicious! I’m living in a university dormitory with dubious food, and these really brightened my day. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!

  47. Hola, no ser escribir inglés pero con lo de los traductores no vas a tener problema, no?
    Me gusta mucho tu blog, me inspira mucha frescura y me trasporta cuando era un poco más joven, sobretodo este post. Muchas felicidades por el trabajo hecho.
    Un fuerte abrazo.