Seasonal Recipe Favorites: Fall into Good Cooking

by Jane Ahrens

Parting with tomatoes and corn is such sweet sorrow, but autumn has arrived and another summer is behind us. With the change of seasons I’ve turned my thoughts from vine-ripened tomatoes, berries and sweet corn to apples, squash and dark leafy greens. Fall flavors have slowly been creeping into the mix of foods and flavors on my table. I’ve begun making hot soups and heartier dishes, gradually moving from the grill to oven cooking. And I’m already thinking about Thanksgiving desserts (yes!), new ones I want to try and those old favorites, too.

One soup I make every fall is this version of Apple and Butternut Squash soup that incorporates just the right amount of spice and a little bit of heat from the jalapeño pepper garnish (use less or more depending on your preference). If I have it on hand, I’ll trade in the ½ teaspoon of ground ginger for a teaspoon (or more) of minced fresh ginger.

Photo courtesy of Edible Rhody magazine

If melted cheese on salad sounds as appetizing as hot guac, I venture you’ll change your mind after trying chef Joshua McFadden’s Bitter Greens Salad with Melted Cheese. After all, he’s the guy responsible for the kale salad craze and this recipe, from his 2017 award-winning cookbook, Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, is an eye opener. Fall’s bitter greens are balanced perfectly by the fat in the gooey, melty cheese and acidity from the vinegar dressing.

This simple recipe for Roasted Delicata Squash is perfect as a side dish with roast chicken (or turkey!) but also makes a delicious plant-based main course when served over barley or farro. Cilantro and lime give sweet (and easy-to-slice) Delicata squash some pop.

Continuing with the squash theme—since they’re not only abundant in autumn, but good for you too—Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagna is a nice departure from the typical red sauce fare. Serve this up for a crowd, or divvy it up between two smaller pans and put one in the freezer for a weeknight when you’re too busy to cook.

This recipe for Pasta with Sausage and Fall Root Vegetables is “everything but the kitchen sink” style. You can really make it your own, depending on what you like (sausage, no sausage, etc.) and what’s available in the market. The bonus score here is the Sage Pepito Pesto, a herbaceous pesto that would be just as happy with swordfish, chicken, steak or tofu as it is topping off a pasta dish. It wouldn’t hurt to double the recipe for the pesto and toss some in your freezer. Bust it out on a rainy cold night when you want to add some excitement to the same old something.

One of my favorite places to find go-to recipes is Genius Recipes at Food 52, where recipes are vetted and tested and must offer some “aha moment” in the kitchen before being posted. I had an aha moment making Canal House’s Chicken Thighs With Lemon, which is now a family favorite. Stovetop chicken basically cooks on its own while you prep a quick salad and some rice—and dinner is done, with golden brown, crispy skin and a nice little spoonful of sauce for your rice. Since preserved lemons aren’t something you find every day in the market, I’ve found that finely chopped lemon peel works just fine as a substitute.

Here is a make-ahead lunch or dinner recipe for Asian Salmon Cakes. Lift the flavor a little more by adding some chopped fresh cilantro. These fish cakes are great to have in the freezer and make a nice light supper with a favorite salad.

I love anything with leeks and this Vegetable Tart with cauliflower, root vegetables and squash is a delicious way to enjoy them atop a golden crust, sprinkled with fresh rosemary and thyme plus lemon to brighten all the veggie flavors.

With baking in mind, I’ve already begun culling through magazines and cookbooks for new Thanksgiving desserts to test out before the big day. One dessert that’s a nice departure from tarts and pies is clafoutis, a French dessert that bakes as a custard with fruit layered within (and you’ll thank me for freeing you from at least one session of dough rolling). My mother loved this recipe for Pear Clafloutis with Almonds and it’s still a regular in our Thanksgiving dessert rotation—a tasty reminder of how much she loved Thanksgiving on Fishers Island.

This final recipe is one I have yet to try but find intriguing because it’s a combination of everything you love about pumpkin and pecan pies mixed into one—all in a good way. Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crunch is going to make a debut this year on our Thanksgiving table, but not before I have chance to sample the recipe. I have a feeling I’m going to like it. I’ll report back on this page by November 15 to let you know if it’s a winner!

Genie McPherson Trevor is the founding editor of Edible Rhody magazine, a quarterly food journal that celebrates the local, seasonal bounty of Rhode Island. Edible Rhody is a member of Edible Communities, the James Beard award-winning publishing group with over 80 local Edible magazines in print across the United States and Canada.

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Beach Rocks sun gaze, 12/10/20 Photo by Richard Breining

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