Happy Fall, my fabulous entertainers! Are you ready for cozy sweaters, reading by the fireplaces, and lots of other deliciously autumnal things? I know I am! See ya later humidity, hello scarf weather! Here is the best part about fall – entertaining! Call me crazy, but it’s my favorite time to gather a bunch of friends, drink good wine, eat great food, and hang out all night. Gone are the hectic days of summer and the mania of holiday season hasn’t hit yet, it’s a sweet spot where schedules are free, the weather is great, and the stars align!
Today we are talking all about why you should host a fall picnic (yes, outside) and what to serve at it! I mean, come on, just look at that spread above – who wouldn’t want to spend the evening with friends noshing on that? Guess what – it’s totally attainable, easier than you think, and won’t take up your whole Saturday prepping. Interested? Of course you are! Well pour yourself a glass of wine, scroll down, and let’s get this party started! We are talking all about my love for outdoor entertaining in the fall over here, but it deserves to be re-enforced. Having a bunch of friends over and dining outside with the crisp fall air in the trees, drinking wine, and catching up is just about as magical as the Midwest can get. So, now that we’ve convinced you that a) you need to host a dinner party this weekend and b) it has to be outside, it’s time to talk about the menu!
Here is the best part about a fall picnic – the spread! The small plate spread is totally undervalued and is a total show stopper. Pick a theme (for this we did mediterranean mezze) and if your guests ask what to bring, you can tell them something on theme.
When our guests asked, we had them bring olives, a few cucumbers, a bunch of carrots, or a packet of pitas. We put the olives into a cute little dish, sliced the carrots & cucumbers up (for dipping in the spreads), and voila! A fun spread that your guests helped curate!
Now, it’s important to pair the menu with the perfect accompanying wine & let me tell you, nothing is more delicious than a cold glass of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon-Blanc on a fall day with a delicious spread. Typically, a Sauvignon-Blanc is thought of as a summer wine, but with the rich flavors of the Mediterranean seasonings, the crispness of the white wines cools everything down a bit and makes for a really delicious pairing. I love pairing foods with complex flavors or unique spices with K-J’s Sauvignon-Blanc because it doesn’t wash out the spices but almost enhances them. Warm up those pitas, put out some spreads & accouterments, pour those glasses of wine & hop to it!
Looking for some good spreads to whip up? How about a batch of homemade hummus! Super easy, delicious, and everyone loves a good homemade spread. Five minutes in the kitchen and a small stockpile of hummus later & you’ve got yourself a party!
- 2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas, liquid reserved
- ½ cup tahini (sesame paste), optional, with some of its oil
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled, or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin or paprika, or to taste, plus a sprinkling for garnish
- Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
- Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
- Put everything except the parsley in a food processor and begin to process; add the chickpea liquid or water as needed to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning (I often find I like to add much more lemon juice). Serve, drizzled with the olive oil and sprinkled with a bit more cumin or paprika and some parsley.
So, what are you waiting for?! Let’s get this party started! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.