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There’s no shortage of things to love about sweater weather, and at the top of that list is taking advantage of crisp, sunny afternoons to have a picnic with pals. Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean picnicking needs to be put on hold. From an afternoon at the apple orchard, to tailgating festivities, here are 23 recipes, including make-ahead salads and seasonal sandwiches, that are easy to pack and delicious to eat.
The best picnic salads can be made in advance, travel well, and, of course, take advantage of seasonal produce. These are chock-full of hearty greens, toothy grains, and root vegetables.
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Fall Harvest Freekeh Salad
This salad is part dark leafy green salad and part whole-grain salad — plus it's full of seasonal goodies like crisp apples and roasted butternut squash.Go to Recipe
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An easy slaw using shredded cruciferous vegetables, almonds, and dried cherries in a tangy honey-mustard dressing.Go to Recipe
Sandwiches and Savory Muffins
Sandwiches are classic picnic fare. Now’s the time to layer on seasonal ingredients, like sweet potato, apples, broccoli, or even slices of savory pork tenderloin. You can also take inspiration and bake up a batch of savory muffins.
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Roasted Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese & Arugula Sandwiches Go to Recipe
This sandwich is one of those incredible combinations that’s so perfect, you can’t believe you never thought of it before: roasted slices of sweet potato, sun-dried tomatoes mixed with goat cheese, a mound of peppery arugula, and chewy whole-grain bread to hold it all together.
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Savory Muffins with Prosciutto & Chives Go to Recipe
The base of these muffins is more cottage cheese and egg than flour, so the result is less like a springy baked good, and more like a pleasant meet-up of quiche and muffin. Or, as Heidi puts it, “Soufflé’s heartier, denser, more portable cousin.” If you’re not a fan of cottage cheese, don’t be put off by its inclusion; the texture disappears into the muffin, leaving only a pleasant creaminess.
If you want something that will keep you warm, reach for a wide-mouth Thermos and load it up with chili, soup, or some irresistible shredded meat.
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Pumpkin Chili Go to Recipe
Our meat-eating friends never notice the lack of animal protein in my pumpkin chili. It can easily be made vegan, too, by adding extra olive oil to replace the butter, and serving dairy-free toppings in place of the cheddar cheese and sour cream, or skipping them entirely.
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Vegan Sweet Potato Chowder Go to Recipe
This vegan sweet potato chowder delivers everything you want in a warm fall soup. It has a velvety broth laced with seasonal spices, like sage and paprika, and chunks of tender root vegetables. It’s delicious the day you make it, but like most soups, it’s even better the next day. So make a big batch of this plant-based chowder and enjoy it all week long.
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Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup Go to Recipe
Imagine a recipe that combines the two things we love about cold-weather cooking: the toasty, caramelized notes of roasted vegetables and a steaming vegetable broth. In this vegetarian recipe from Kathy Gunst’s new book, Soup Swap, we have found our new favorite soup of fall.
Savory and Sweet Snacks and Treats
No picnic is complete without nibbles for picking and a bite of something sweet. We like options you can make in big batches like a savory snack mix or flavored popcorn. And of course, cookies and bars are always a hit.
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Honey-Mustard Snack Mix Go to Recipe
Ever wonder why snack mixes are called party mixes? I suspect it’s because, like parties that have an interesting mix of people, snack mixes are always an interesting combination of ingredients, with every handful different from the last. This recipe is a hybrid of traditional Chex mix and those delicious honey-mustard crunchy pretzels. Are you ready to join the party?
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Peanut Butter Popcorn Go to Recipe
This recipe for peanut butter popcorn, sweetened with honey, belongs for me in memories of my family. This was our favorite movie-night treat — a quick snack with sweet and gooey peanut butter coating every kernel. I vastly prefer it to crunchier caramel popcorn.
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Apple Pie Granola Bars
These chewy, buttery granola bars are packed with grated apples, warming spices, and toothsome oats — perfect as a lunch-box treat or as breakfast.Go to Recipe
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Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Go to Recipe
These particular cookies are soft and dense, with lots of buttery flavor and the ease of a no-mixer, nearly one-bowl method. They are very likely going to become one of your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes, too.