Five fall dinners

Lean in to the year's most "basic" season

I resent that fall has become synonymous with pumpkin spice lattes and Instagram-able apple picking (I admit my hypocrisy here. I have been apple picking, and have photographed said apple picking). I resent this because it feels too on the nose, now, to get excited about anything fall related. If you want to maintain your reputation for being edgy and ahead of the curve, as I do, better find a new season to love. Say goodbye to the squash soups and maple-roasted squash sides. Hadn’t even tried this butternut squash cacio e pepe yet.

Enjoy this sweet potato breakfast hash and this cheesy herb and potato gratin at your own risk. I’m too cool for butternut squash mac and cheese.

Way too cool. It’s not even hard to resist. I’m fine.

If you want to lean into fall and use the season’s (comforting) flavors and (delicious) produce to overcome your home cooking burnout, then I’m happy to assist you.

Five fall-inspired weeknight dinners ahead and if you (we) don’t take pictures then it’s almost like they never happened:

  1. Butternut squash soup, served with a baguette on the side

    Squash, apple, and potato cooked and pureed together with coconut milk? A great start. Serve it with a baguette that you’ve sliced on the diagonal and drizzled with olive oil and toasted for a few minutes in the oven and a chilled Sauvignon Blanc or Gewurztraminer. Or use some of the baguette slices for sausage crostini to make a fuller meal of it.

  2. Perfectly roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables

    It doesn’t get more classic than a roast chicken with potatoes and veggies; the simplicity is key and means the quality of the ingredients must be excellent. The wine should be excellent, too. A Viognier, a pinot noir. And the dessert should be a light and simple confection like angel food cake with fresh fruit or an affogato.

  3. Roasted butternut squash with spiced chickpeas

    The look, feel, and intent of this dinner is total autumnal comfort. The combination of butternut squash with yogurt and pomegranate seeds is enough to have me salivating already. Serve it with warm naan or pita bread for scooping. I’d go with a red wine like a Côtes du Rhône or a Syrah and for dessert, a batch of white chocolate lavender cookies or Katharine Hepburn’s famous brownies.

  4. Pasta with sautéed porcini mushrooms

    Edgy reputation be damned! I want to cook and eat these fall flavors immediately. Earthy, rich mushrooms with homemade (or store bought, I won’t tell) pasta, garlic, and fresh herbs served in a large bowl, with sweatpants on and the socks that only come out around late October. This calls for a pinot noir followed by boozy Nutella hot chocolate.

  5. Jacques Pepin and Julia Child’s chicken-tarragon pot pie

    One of my fondest food memories is of a gorgeous chicken pot pie made by a close friend and delivered to my house soon after I had my son. As such, I associate chicken pot pie with comfort, and with fall. I’d like to make this tarragon version with leeks and cream and a flaky, buttery crust and serve it (ideally to my friend!) with a Chablis and then vegan banana ice cream with chocolate chunks.

And a bonus breakfast idea if this hasn’t been nearly enough squash for you yet:

Take your favorite morning glory muffin recipe and swap out the carrot for (peeled and) grated butternut squash in equal measure.

Boom. There’s squash in everything, someone’s quoting the “sweata weatha” skit, Instagram is all pumpkin patch’d and apple pick’d and leaf peep’d, and now we’ve got dinners to match. Don’t say I never did nothin’ for ya. (Also, don’t ask me what I’m making for dinner. It’s for sure not the butternut squash cacio e pepe I mentioned.)

Happy cooking!