I love fall and the variety of vegetables that are now readily at my disposable. Unlike the light and airy offerings of summer, fall veggies tend to be savory comfort foods that help take your mind off the cold setting in outside, and the gardens that will soon be freezing over. Unfortunately, with our culture’s pumpkin obsession, many other fall vegetables are getting forgotten. So, I made a quick list of some of the season’s best produce to have on your radar.
Why they’re great: Yes, they look a little strange, and I’ve discovered that many people who haven’t tried them tend to stay away because of the intimidating appearance. But, turnips and turnip greens are two of the healthiest options for fall—they’re a good source of carbs, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium.
Though you can cut them up and put them in a salad, you can also bake them, broil them, sauté them, and steam them. The trick is to not overcook, or else you lose that great crunch and the turnips can become a bit bitter. Instead, try baking them as a gratin, which means in the oven with cheese and breadcrumbs, to create a delicious, warm side reminiscent of cheesy potatoes minus the fat content. Get the recipe for turnip-parsnip gratin from Cooking Light.
Why they’re great: This is quite possibly my favorite vegetable. I try to work it into as many meals as I can, and so I have come up with a plethora of recipes over the years. Though I know many potato purists fight me on this, sweet potatoes are worth working into your diet not just because they are affordable and chalk full of vitamins, but also because of their versatility. Bake them in the oven, mash them down, or fry them up for an easy side.
This recipe for tandoori sweet potatoes from Skinnytaste is one that you won’t find anywhere else, but is so delicious that you will find yourself licking the plate. I tend to shake up the potatoes with the seasoning and bake it as an easy but tangy side dish that complements almost any meal.
*Note: Butternut squash is a fall gourd that can be easily substituted for sweet potatoes to lower the calorie count on meals.
Why they’re great: Available year round, these vegetables are already on most people’s shopping lists. Easy to pack in a lunch or eat raw as a snack, people sometimes forget that this fall vegetable is just as great cooked as it is dunked in ranch dressing.
Low in calories and high in health benefits, if you aren’t eating these power veggies already, it’s time to get on the carrot bandwagon. This recipe for carrot apple ginger soup from Oh She Glows is perfect for a cold fall night, and by chopping and reducing down, makes the carrots both savory and sweet.
Why they’re great: If you’re looking to go low-carb, look no further than spaghetti squash. When cooked, the flesh of this fall favorite actually turns into noodles, thus earning it its name and offering a great alternative for pasta dishes. As an added bonus, squash is full of vitamins and antioxidants that your pasta is lacking.
Though you can scrape the insides out, I love the easy clean up of leaving the spaghetti in the skin and using it as a natural bowl. The trick is to roast the squash first and then add the other ingredients you want to include. Staying true to my Italian roots, Half Baked Harvest has one of my favorite recipes for roasted garlic spaghetti squash lasagna boats.
Why they’re great: Squash should be your go-to this season not only because it’s readily available, but also because there are so many different types that offer a variety of flavors for every palate. Though spaghetti squash is one of my favorites, acorn squash gives it a run for its money. Sweeter and more succulent than spaghetti squash without being as smooth as butternut squash, acorn pairs well with another fall favorite—apples.
Though it makes a great soup, I prefer it roasted and stuffed. But the longer you roast it, the sweeter the taste, which is why many people suggest covering it in syrup or brown sugar to bring out the natural flavor. Since I prefer something savory, I can’t get enough of these quinoa-stuffed acorn squash rings from Oh My Veggies. The use of sage, walnuts, and quinoa dials back the apples and cranberries, creating something that is filling but that you almost feel guilty about eating.
Why they’re great: Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. This odd little orb-shaped vegetable has long been regarded as the worse of the worst, but the truth is, these fiber-rich powerhouses can be great additions to any meal if you give them a chance. Like many other fall vegetables, overcooked sprouts tend to taste bitter, as well as omit a rather pungent smell that I think earned them their negative reputation. But by simply roasting them in the oven, you can get even the pickiest eaters to rave over this fall offering.
My favorite paring is with honey and parmesan, which dials back the taste and brings out the saltiness as well as the sweetness of the vegetable. Try this recipe for honey parmesan roasted Brussels sprouts from Daring Dish.
Why they’re great: Unlike some of the other veggies on the list, if you are in the mood for something sweet, look no further than this root vegetable. As their screaming red color suggests, beets are considered a superfood. Known to prevent high cholesterol and promote heart health, many people may think the only way to enjoy them is pickled and atop a Greek salad. But there are actually tons of other ways to work them into your diet.
Pair with carrots (another fall favorite), and you have a sweet side dish. Braised, broiled, or sautéed, they complement your favorite meat perfectly, bringing out the salty and smoky flavor of beef, chicken, and fish. This recipe for sweetfire beet tabbouleh from Love Beets is perfect if you are a Mediterranean food lover looking to transition into the fall mindset.
Image courtesy of photokitchen/iStock