Few things bring me more joy come October than the smorgasborg of hearty, in-season fall vegetables. Rustic roots like turnips, rutabagas, celeriac, and, of course, potatoes, and a rainbow of squash varietals like delicata, acorn, and spaghetti are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and make autumn menus shine. These eight recipes utilize the seasonal stars in all of their starchy glory.
As soon as the weather dips below 40 degrees, my brain defaults into casserole mode, aka what dishes can I make/bake ahead and easily reheat for dinner during the week? Enchiladas are a perfect candidate and offer a wide range of interpretations. This Sweet Potato Black Bean number from Minimalist Baker is in my current dinner rotation and puts sweet potatoes — my favorite root vegetable — at the forefront. Spiced, roasted potato cubes get tossed with black beans and a healthy dose of homemade red enchilada sauce before being rolled up in corn tortillas, topped with more sauce, and baked. Finish with lots of chopped fresh cilantro, cubed avocado, and Greek yogurt for a healthy spin on the classic. Get the recipe from Minimalist Baker.
I love a good pasta salad, but more often than not, they fall flat on the flavor and texture fronts. Brooklyn Supper found a way to curb these pitfalls by anchoring their salad with pearl couscous, which maintains its al dente bite even after being refrigerated for a few days. The pasta then gets a generous addition of roasted squash, a sweet/tender varietal that is so low maintenance you don’t even have to peel it first. Thinly sliced kale, red onion, pomegranate seeds, pepitas, and goat cheese round out the lineup before getting tossed together in a tangy honey Dijon vinaigrette. A stand-alone salad that is perfect for a quick lunch or a base for dinner alongside a grilled chicken breast or piece of roasted fish. Get the recipe from Brooklyn Supper.
Ever have an excess of bread around that’s too tough for toast? Try panzanella, a traditional Italian dish that repurposes stale bread by cubing it up, toasting it until crispy, and combining it with any dressing or add-ins that you’d like. This stunner from My New Roots features dark sourdough bread cubes, loads of shredded kale, and a collection of various roasted root vegetables — like sweet potato, beets, kohlrabi, parsnips, and celeriac. Before serving, everything gets generously coated in a grainy mustard dressing and topped off with quick ginger carrot pickles (feel free to use any pickles or fun add-ins you have lying around in your fridge). Hearty, healthy, and crazy colorful to boot. Get the recipe from My New Roots.
For many of us, our fondest food memories surrounding fall veggies show off their creamy side — think mashed potatoes or sweet potato pie. Pinch of Yum takes advantage of this quality in a recipe for Creamy Parmesan Orrecchiette. The dish starts by roasting cubes of butternut squash until tender. Those then get combined with orecchiette pasta, roasted broccolini, and a silky parmesan cream sauce creating a luscious bowl that will warm you right up on a cold fall night. Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Turnips are an often forgotten member of the root vegetable family, but I firmly believe they deserve a moment in the spotlight. Their earthy bitterness adds a distinct bite, as can be seen in Dolly & Oatmeal’s Turmeric Miso Soup. This restorative broth combines miso, turmeric, mushrooms, and lots of turnips for an umami powerhouse lineup. Cooked soba noodles give the dish extra body and thinly sliced green onion and microgreens add a necessary splash of color and vibrancy. Just the ticket when you’re feeling under the weather or just in need of steamy, nourishing dinner. Get the recipe from Dolly & Oatmeal.
There is something incredibly charming about spaghetti squash — its eye-catching golden hue and the way it threads into perfect little strands upon cooking. The Roasted Root takes this workhorse autumn vegetable and roasts it until fork tender. It then gets topped with a broccoli-based pesto featuring raw pumpkin seeds, ample parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil. Extra pumpkin seeds and parmesan cheese are a must. Try this recipe on your next Meatless Monday; you won’t walk away hungry. Get the recipe from The Roasted Root.
When you’re looking to your root vegetables to act as a supporting player at your dinner table, pull on The Cookie Writers technique for mashed rutabagas or turnips. This technique is nearly identical to that of cooking potatoes, boiling cubes in salted water until soft. After draining, the rutabaga gets a generous knob and a few tablespoons of brown sugar before being smashed into a chunky puree. If you prefer a silky smooth mixture, try a food mill or immersion blender to knock out all of those pesky lumps. Get the recipe from The Cookie Writer.
It’s hard to beat a good baked potato — that is until you’ve tried a hasselback potato. This preparation has everything you’d find in a normal baked potato (tender, fluffy interior, crunchy skin on the outside) but with even more crispy bits thanks to slits running horizontally down the potato. When baked, all of those cuts expose the interior of the potato, perfectly steaming it while maintaining an addicting, crunchy exterior. Rachael’s Good Eats uses purple sweet potatoes seasoned with chili powder and paprika in her rendition of this dish, adding a bold pop of color to an otherwise monotone food. Once out of the oven, the hot potato gets topped with green onion, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and your choice of feta or goat cheese. So easy, so simple, and so satisfying. Get the recipe from Rachael’s Good Eats.
When you sit down to enjoy one of these comforting recipes, take a moment to remember that not everyone has easy, regular access to wholesome food. Feed your stomach, then your soul by joining the fight to end world hunger.
Maddie Mays is a Chicago-born personal chef, caterer, and writer. Her love of gastronomy began with an introduction to the Food Network as a teenager and has since blossomed into a deep-rooted passion. She spent her early career in the food world working at the famed Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before moving on to other notable spots including Detroit’s Sister Pie bakery, and Floriole Bakery, Read It and Eat bookstore, and The Social Table in Chicago. In her spare time, she can be found practicing yoga, hosting dinner parties for friends, and sifting through her ever-growing cookbook collection. Maddie is also a supporter of PAWS Chicago. Since adopting her two cats from the shelter, she has served as a volunteer and donated her cooking services as an auction item at fundraisers. Get in touch with Maddie at madonfood.com