8 Essential Fall Dishes Everyone Should Know How to Make
Turn fall's bounty into ridiculously good dinners and treats with these apple—and pumpkin-centric recipes.
A New Way to Think of Butternut Squash
After a summer of tomatoes and zucchini, we're ready to dive into this autumnal twist on pasta with sausage and vegetables, which will be a revelation for anyone who's used to seeing butternut squash only in soups. The dish stars the sweet, tasty, cool-weather staple in an unexpected way: You cook cubes of it with sweet Italian sausage, onion and sage; then add a creamy, buttery sauce, penne and a big bunch of peppery arugula, which wilts when you mix it in with the hot ingredients. There are so many flavors and textures in this hearty bowl, yet everything works so well together. Plus, you don't need to serve anything with it—except, that is, plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.
Get the recipe: Penne with Sausage and Butternut Squash
A Morning Meal That Will Make You Forget All About Pumpkin Muffins
This mash-up of pillowy French toast and savory grilled cheese is just the thing for a fall brunch. You soak slices of challah bread in an egg mixture, then use them to build a melty sandwich with grated, extra-sharp cheddar. The finishing touch is a heap of apples you've sautéed in brown butter on top; the combination of sweet and sharp reminds us of that classic apple pie-cheddar pairing. If there are any leftover candied apples, they're terrific over vanilla ice cream.
Get the recipe: Grilled Cheese French Toast
The New Way to Eat Sweet Potatoes
This lighter alternative to a typical tailgating dish uses sweet potatoes—the ubiquitous cold-weather vegetable—in an uncommon way: as taco filling. You sauté the diced sweet potatoes in olive oil, and then pop them into the oven for 15 minutes so they're soft on the inside and just lightly crispy on the outside. Piled into tortillas with black beans, pepper and cheese, they're an autumnal take on a much-loved meal.
Get the recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
The Doughnut You Thought You Could Only Find at Farm Stands
Before we tried it, we thought making our own apple-cider doughnuts sounded complicated and not worth the effort when the farmers' market sells such good ones. After one go, though, we are hooked, thanks to Wilton's doughnut pan
and Stonewall Kitchen's mix
. The process is supereasy (just add a few pantry ingredients) and mess-free (the doughnuts are baked, not fried)—and the results are outrageously tasty.
A Stew Where the Quintessential Fall Fruit Shines
Pork shoulder is juicy and savory, economical and pairs wonderfully with autumn (and winter) flavors. One of the tastiest—and easiest—ways to cook it is in this hearty German stew, which combines the meat with two types of apples (Granny Smith and Red Delicious), green and red cabbage and egg noodles. It's truly a no-brainer meal: After some quick prep work, you can let the dish simmer for a few hours, and then it's ready to eat.
Get the recipe: German Winter Stew
The Party Sweet They'll Clamor For
It's hard to beat a big pan of spiced pumpkin bars glazed with cream cheese frosting for autumn potlucks, football-watching parties and bake sales. This spin on the annual classic is more healthful than most; the recipe uses applesauce instead of oil, Splenda instead of sugar and oat flour instead of white flour—and the bars still taste deliciously moist.
Get the recipe: Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
The Butternut Squash You'll Be Making with (Almost) Every Meal
Ina Garten's maple-roasted, pancetta-studded butternut squash is a breeze to make and incredibly versatile, too. You spread the cubed squash on a baking sheet with garlic, oil, syrup, salt and pepper; bake for about 20 minutes; then sprinkle pancetta and sage leaves over everything and slide it back into the oven for 20 to 30 more minutes. The sweet and savory side goes especially well with pork tenderloin or roasted chicken.
Get the recipe: Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash
The Speediest Way to Make Your Home Smell Like Fall
Oprah's former personal chef Art Smith says this warm, spiced cider is always one of the most-requested beverages at his restaurants. It's as simple as combining orange and lemon zest, a mix of spices and a quart of apple cider in a saucepan and simmering them until you just can't resist the cinnamony scent any longer.
Get the recipe: Mulled Apple Cider
Next: 8 potluck suppers for your next fall or winter party