Picnic season in Dubai

Head to the park, beach or desert dune for some tasty al-fresco fun


Inside-out pizzas
Five small Arabic bread rounds
Tomato paste
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Sliced, pitted olives
Sliced mushrooms
Fresh basil leaves

Cut the bread rounds in half (semi circles) spread them lightly with tomato paste and fill them with the cheese, olives, mushrooms and a couple of fresh basil leaves. Don’t overfill them though – they should close easily.

Seal the edges with a little olive oil and press them together. You can add a cocktail stick to ensure they stay closed. Then bake them in a medium oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and pack in the fridge in an air-tight container. Makes ten.

Cheese and ham muffins
260g of plain flour
130ml milk
100g shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp baking powder
100g of chopped, smoked turkey ham

Combine the flour, turkey ham, milk, cheddar cheese, eggs (already beaten), oil and baking powder. Mix until just blended, batter should be a little lumpy. Then fill a 12-cup muffin tray, making sure each cup is filled two thirds full of the mixture.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in the centre of a preheated oven set at 175°C. When done, the muffins should look golden, and be springy to the touch. You can test they are done by sticking a cocktail stick into one and seeing if it comes out clean. Make them the night before, leave them to cool and pack them in an airtight container. These are best eaten within 24 hours of being made.

Chicken and avocado wraps
6 large tortillas
4 grilled chicken breasts
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 avocados, chopped
Finely chopped local lettuce
Finely chopped tomatoes
Fresh black pepper to taste

Chop the chicken breast into small chunks and combine it with the mayonnaise, avocado and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Place a generous dollop into the centre of a floured tortilla and distribute it evenly. Then add 1 tbsp of chopped tomatoes and a sprinkling of lettuce.

Roll the tortilla up tightly and slice it in half. Pack them into an airtight container and store them in the fridge. Best made the same day as the picnic. Makes 12.

Impromptu picnics

A great picnic doesn’t need to involve a huge amount of prep – and it can be healthy too.

Carrot, cucumber, celery sticks

Baby tomatoes

Hummus and egg-plant dips

A selection of breads

A cheese board with crackers

Hard boiled eggs (five minutes on full boil, made the night before)

Cold meats, olives and quiche from the deli

Pre-prepared bags of mixed salad (buy the ones that have been pre-washed)

A fruit selection including grapes, strawberries and apples – no slicing is required

Rotisserie chickens from the supermarket make great additions to picnics, but make sure you pack a knife – and some hand wipes too

Be snack savvy

Picnics are fantastic fun and a great way to eat out while saving those dirhams. But ensuring your food is packed properly is a must if you want to avoid tummy troubles.

Ensure food is as fresh as possible by making either the night before, or on the morning of your picnic

Cool cooked food like chicken as quickly as possible storing it in an airtight container, and then transferring it to a proper cooled picnic box just before you leave

Always wash fruits and vegetables properly and avoid cross contamination by packing meats and vegetables separately.

To save space in your picnic box, use zip-lock freezer bags instead of containers

Make sure kids clean their hands before they eat by using either sanitizing wipes or portable hand cleanser

Don’t leave the picnic cooler box in the sun or in the hot car. Perishable food needs to be kept at 5°C to ensure freshness, so find a shady spot if you’re not planning to eat for a while, and make sure the ice packs inside are plentiful.

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