August 13th, 2009


Picnic in a Jar, Orzo Pasta and Greek Style Meatball Salad

First of all a big apology to everyone that  received a version of this recipe which had  lots of spelling and grammar mistakes, it was ugly and unforgivable!!. I have learned a lesson not to do something when I’m tired. I pressed’ publish’ instead of ‘save to draft’ and  you end up with a terrible blog! I hope that all my readers will forgive me.

I’m like a dog with a bone. Once I get an idea in my head I will not let it go without trying it at least once. I love this fabulous idea of a picnic in a jar. I know it’s not revolutionary as the lunchbox was invented before I even existed but hey it’s making me feel good!

It’s amazing how fast time flies by. It’s only 12 months ago that we went to the beautiful Island of Santorini. It’s actually scary as I realised I have had a packet of pasta in the cupboard for a year! Mr. P & I could be described as very sad individuals as we find supermarkets just as interesting as the old buildings. When we visit other countries we make a point of investigating their supermarkets and look for interesting goodies that we do not normally get back at home. The orzo pasta is nothing new but  I cannot find it easily in England.

Another Santorini beauty was their amazing tomatoes. At first we did not quite understood what the small dead  bushes in the fields were all about until we met a local who explained the importance of their tomato crops. Apparently tomatoes rank third after tourism and wine in their income table. The island is very dry with limited rain however the dew and spray from the sea make these Mediterranean gems grow fabulously. They are sweet, intense and electric red. I could not bring the tomatoes back but my happy vegetable delivery chap brought me these beauties which reminded me of the Santorini tomatoes.


We went to Audley End for a picnic with the family and ‘Duke’ the dog came along too. It was a lovely day and the Victorian kitchen garden is immaculate. They had a Victorian re-enactment of the how Audley End House used to function. The kitchens were amazing and the women where incredibly knowledgeable It was a great day out.

For this picnic I packed enough jars so each person had their own jar. The plum upside down cake also made it into my basket along with a few other wonderful delights.


Orzo and Roasted Tomato Salad

  • 600g ripe tomatoes
  • 2 whole red chillies
  • 2 orange peppers
  • 2tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2tbs tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g raw orzo pasta
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 4tbs of the roasted tomato mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Wash the tomatoes, chillies and peppers. Cut the tomatoes in even size pieces. De-seed the peppers and chillies and cut in even size pieces.

Mix the tomatoes, chillies and peppers, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, garlic, olive oil and bay leaves. Place the mixture in a deep casserole dish and roast in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. Let the roasted tomatoes chill before reserving 100g to make the mayonnaise.

Cook the orzo pasta in salted boiling water and refresh. Toss the orzo in a light coating of extra virgin olive oil once the pasta has completely cooled.

Wash and chop the spring onions and mix with the cooked orzo, chopped coriander and the remainder of the chilled roasted tomatoes. Set aside to make the mayonnaise.

Roasted Tomato Mayonnaise

  • 100g roasted tomato mixture
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tsp creamed horseradish
  • 200g peanut or sunflower oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blend the roasted tomatoes, egg yolks, seasoning, Dijon mustard and horseradish until smooth.

Slowly add the oil to form an emulsion, blend until all the oil is incorporated.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Add 4 tbs of the mayonnaise to the orzo pasta blend.


  • 500g beef mince
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 whole free range egg
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2tbs toasted pine nuts
  • 2tbs chopped mixed soft herbs such as parsley, chervil and oregano
  • 1 tsp grain mustard

Soak the slice of bread in the milk.

Place the beef, soaked bread and the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I like to get my hands dirty to give it a good mix.

Scoop the meatballs in approximately 15g balls, let them rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with a dash of oil and pan-fry the meatballs until golden all over and cooked on the inside, stir them regularly without breaking them into pieces.

Let the meatballs cool completely.

Food Fanatics Tips

If you do not have time to pan-fry them then oven roast the meatballs in a preheated oven at 200°C for 12 - 14 minutes.

Makes 45 x 15g meatballs

Assembly of the dish

Orzo pasta salad

45 meatballs

200g feta cheese

3tbs toasted pine nuts

3tbs chopped kalamata olives

Leftover Roasted Tomato Mayonnaise

Divide the orzo pasta salad between the jars, about half way.

Place three cooked and cooled meatballs into each jar, crumble the feta cheese over followed by the toasted pine nuts and chopped black olives and a drizzle of the mayonnaise

Makes 15 small Picnic Jars

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9 Comments to “Picnic in a Jar, Orzo Pasta and Greek Style Meatball Salad”

  1. Fran Watts says:

    Dear Maddy

    Thanks for letting me know about the ‘sporks’ – they are great but more importantly …..
    Just to let you know that the picnic jar came into its own completely at our last visit to Kenwood – it starting raining hard as soon as we got here and rained all night – despite that we had a great time albeit drenched! It was impossible to lay out picnic food and every time you opened a cool box everything got soaked, but the jars were happily eaten sat under our umbrellas – perfect picnic in a jar! So easy to eat…….. Thank you so much for the idea, the recipe is fantastic, really delicious – just what we needed!
    Best wishes again, Fran

  2. Fran says:

    Hi again! Off to Kenwood in June to the Picnic Concert so definitely going to make this again it’s fantastic! Can you remind me where you got the little wooden ‘spork’ as in the picture – been searching online and just can’t seem to find it.

  3. Fran says:

    What a fantastic idea – where did you get the great little wooden for/spoon things to attach to the jar? Going to make this anyway even if we don’t take on picnic just eat in front of TV!!

  4. Madalene says:

    I love this comment! You made me laugh out loud, it’s just the sort of thing I would do as well. Do enjoy it tastes just as wonderful indoors as outdoors.

  5. KennyT says:

    Wow, love this idea, brilliant!

    Your blog is fantastic, I’ve subscribed your blog’s feed. Everything looks so beautiful and I love the way you write.

    Thank you so much for sharing your great recipes with us.

  6. Nora says:

    I think a picnic in a jar is a brilliant idea! And that looks so delicious. My mouth is watering…

  7. What a neat way of creating a picnic dish. Beats sweaty cheese sandwiches any day! Santorini was one place I’d love to visit – I think it’s the blue and white house photographs that make it so alluring. Now I’m thinking of tomatoes instead

  8. Kavey says:

    That looks delicious! As for pressing publish instead of save as draft, many of us have done that more than once! :) Don’t worry about it! :)

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