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The Perfect Picnic: 4 Must-Make Recipes

It’s picnic season! Grab your friends, family, and pets for an al fresco feast. Whether you want to make the meal yourself or grab grub to go, we have you covered. Keep reading for everything you need to make your next open-air occasion a success.

Must-Make Recipes

Impress your pals by making one (or all!) of the following recipes that are portable, easy to prepare, and best served with sunshine.

Pasta Salad

Recipe by Sonya Keister of The Rustic Fork, Folsom,
•    8 oz. (2 cups) elbow macaroni
•    ½ cup mayonnaise
•    1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
•    1 tsp. Dijon mustard
•    ½ tsp. sea salt
•    2 cloves garlic, diced
•    1, 5 oz. package diced pancetta
•    *1 small Fresno pepper, diced
•    2 tbsp. olive oil
•    1 cup fava beans** (shelled and blanched) or edamame
Pasta Salad

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. While cooking, whisk the mayonnaise, cheese, mustard, and salt together in a large bowl. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and immediately toss with the mayonnaise mixture. (The noodles will soak up the mixture better if they’re hot.)
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil for about 30 seconds. Add the pancetta and cook low and slow until crisp and all the fat is rendered. Add in the pepper and garlic, and cook for 30-60 seconds. 
Remove from heat and pour mixture, including the oil, over the pasta. Fold in the fava beans or edamame and taste for seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Note: Salad can be made up to one day ahead of time to let flavors meld.
*Can be substituted with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
**About 1 lb. of fresh fava beans. Remove from their pods then blanch in simmering water. Drain, cool, and remove the beans from their shells.

Crab Roll

Recipe by La Provence Restaurant & Terrace, 110 Diamond Creek Place, Roseville, 916-789-2002,
•    8 oz. high-quality crab
•    2 tbsp. celery leaf, rough chop
•    1 tbsp. small red onion, diced
•    1 tsp. chervil, finely chopped
•    1 tsp. dill, finely chopped
•    Juice of 1/4 lemon
•    3 tbsp. aïoli
•    Salt and pepper, to taste
•    1 fresh French roll
•    1/2 cup romaine lettuce, julienned
•    1 ripe tomato, sliced
Crab Roll

Add ingredients thru aïoli to a small chilled bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon, taking care not to over stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cut the French roll and put the lettuce on the bottom half, followed by the tomatoes and crab salad. Cover with top of French roll. Cut in half and keep cold until reaching your picnic locale.

French Onion Dip

Recipe by Andis Wines*, 11000 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth, 209-245-6177,
•    3 tbsp. olive oil
•    1 lb. sweet yellow onions, diced
•    3 fresh lemon thyme sprigs
•    1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
•    1 1/2 cups sour cream
•    3/4 cup mayonnaise
•    1/4 tsp. garlic powder
•    1/4 tsp. white pepper (freshly ground)
•    Assorted fresh or blanched vegetables (mini peppers, carrots, radishes, fingerling potatoes, asparagus, etc.)
French Onion Dip

Place the oil, onions, lemon thyme sprigs, and half the salt in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Place the remaining ingredients and the remaining salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the cooled onions and stir to combine.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and stir again before serving. Serve with assorted fresh or blanched vegetables, pitas, or crackers. Note: Dip can be made up to one day ahead of time to let flavors meld.
*Adapted from

Chopped Salad

Recipe by Vaiano Trattoria, 7160 Douglas Boulevard, Granite Bay, 916- 780-0888,
•    2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
•    10 thin slices provolone, chopped
•    12 thin slices of salami, chopped
•    1/2 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
•    1/2 can black olives, sliced
Italian Dressing
•    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
•    3 tbsp. lemon juice
•    1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
•    1 tsp. sugar
•    1 tsp. mustard
•    1 cup olive oil
Chopped Salad

Whisk all dressing ingredients together thru mustard, and then add oil.
Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing.

Set the Scene: Locations

The setting is almost as important as the people and provisions. Here are some of our favorite places to post up.
  • Kalithea Park, El Dorado Hills
  • Willow Creek Recreation Area, Folsom
  • John Kemp Park, Folsom
  • Lions Park, Placerville
  • Marshall Gold Discovery
  • State Historic Park, Coloma
  • Cronan Rach Trails
  • Regional Park, Coloma
  • Diamond Oaks Park, Roseville
  • Royer Park, Roseville
  • Peter Hill Heritage Park, Rocklin

Gear & Gadgets

By Alesandra Velez & Megan Wiskus
Don’t show up empty-handed! The following products are functional, fashionable, and delicious, ensuring your next picnic will go off without a hitch.
Picnic Time Kabrio Wine Basket, $90 at Bag King, 230 Palladio Parkway, Suite 1217, Folsom, 916-923-9530,
True Sommelier Waiter’s Corkscrew, $6.99, Cici’s Handmade Italian Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies, $11.99, and Underwood “The Bubbles” and “Rosé,” $6.48 each, at Fork Lift, 3333 Coach Lane, Cameron Park, 530-672-9090,
Roundie Turkish Beach Towel, $75, and Square Pine Charcuterie Board, $95, at Brass + Oak, 320 Main Street, Placerville, 530-497-5529,
Dalmatia Tangerine Spread, $4.99, and Supreme Brie, $8, at Nugget Markets, 771 Pleasant Grove Boulevard, Roseville, 916-746-7799; 4500 Post Street, El Dorado Hills, 916-933-1433,
Monet Mini Original Water Crackers, $3.99, and Line 39 Pinot Noir, $9.99, at Whole Foods Market, 270 Palladio Parkway, Folsom, 916-984-8500; 1001 Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, 916-781-5300,


  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Baby wipes
  • Trash bag
  • Plates, utensils, napkins
  • Paring knife
  • Something to do (Frisbee, football, kite, deck of cards, etc.)