Embrace Autumn with a Fall Picnic

Image of an autumn day in a neighborhood. Bright yellow leaves hang on a tree as others lay on the street and sidewalk

While it’s hard to beat dining outdoors on a warm summer evening, fall picnics have a lot going for them too. From the Aspen and Oak trees of Colorado to the Maple and Elms on the East Coast, there are many leaves to be peeped at and crisp sunny afternoons to enjoy this time of year. take a walk or a drive, and find somewhere to sit, feast, and take in nature’s finest show of autumn colors before the gray of winter sets in! Fall’s not only a great time of year because of the colors, but it’s also harvesting time for a lot of American farms, including California Olive Ranch’s farms throughout California’s Central Valley. Our extra virgin olive oil and a variety of over vegetables are at the perfect stage of ripeness during this time of year.

Here are a few of our ideas for a packable meal for you and a loved one to take a hike and have a picnic in the crisp autumn air. Don’t forget a cozy blanket, a thermos of warm apple cider, and a juicy pear or two for dessert.

A picnic of warm apple cider, bright yellow soup in a canteen, butternut squash salad made with olive oil, apple cider vinaigrette, and olives.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 4


1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed

extra virgin olive oil

1 T maple syrup

1 tsp sea salt + ½ tsp Black pepper

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 cups arugula

3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice

2 T cider vinegar

2 T minced shallots

2 t Dijon mustard

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the butternut squash in about 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, and salt & pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender, turning once. Add the cranberries for the last five or so minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about ¼ cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash and any optional ingredients. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten, and toss well.

Adapted from Minimalist Baker & Barefoot Contessa

Wild Rice, Beet, & Brussel Sprout Salad

Serves 4


1 cup wild rice, or other grain of choice

2-3 medium beets

1 lb. Brussels sprouts

extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

¼ cup walnuts, toasted


Preheat oven to 375° F.

Prepare wild rice or other grain per directions.

Wash and halve Brussels sprouts. Toss with 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes on a baking sheet, tossing once, until outer leaves are crispy.

Wash and quarter beets. Bring 1-2 inches of water to boil in a steamer pot. Add beets and steam until tender, about 15 minutes.

Combine all ingredients and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.

Butternut Squash Soup

Serve 4-6


1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped

4 red or golden apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

2 tsp coarse salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

2 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed

green onions, sliced for garnish (optional)


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add apples, salt, cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, black pepper, stock, and the water (just enough to cover). Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Puree in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth, and return to saucepan. Heat over low, thinning with more water if necessary. To serve, ladle into shallow bowls and garnish with green onion.

The soup can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to a month; let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Reheat gently before serving (thaw frozen soup overnight in the refrigerator).

Adapted from Martha Stewart


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