As glorious as summer may be when it comes to cooking, we’re psyched for fall ingredients — greens of all sorts, apples, squash, garlic, onions, and beans — used in soups, braises, roasts, and more. Here’s our crew weighing in on what we’re looking forward to.
‘It’s a maximum gourd, all right’
Anything made with blue hubbard squash, which I’m thrilled to learn upon looking it up just now that the Latin name is Cucurbita maxima: It’s a maximum gourd all right. The flesh is creamier than kabocha and more intense than pumpkin, with a mottled grey-blue skin that reminds me of storm clouds right before it rains — so they look gorgeous lounging around your kitchen until you can get to cooking.
Whether they’re large or small, I take a less harrowing approach than breaking down raw thick-skinned winter squash and roast them whole: Carefully stab through to the seed core in several places with a carving fork or boning knife to release steam, then balance it on a rimmed baking sheet into a 400°F oven. The squash is ready when it oozes caramel (excellent smeared on toast), and collapsed in places. How long depends on the size, but at least 45 minutes since I like the innards on the dry, dark side.
Let the squash cool to the touch before dismembering. It will be easy to scoop the seeds and strings out (to make roasted seeds maybe?) and then a tad more scooping to get the flesh out of the skin. I drain all of it — big pieces and all the bits — in a mesh sieve into a bowl and use the liquid to spike stock. Then I stew or gratinee the big chunks, and mash the rest to freeze for creamy soups and holiday pie filling.
— Kerri Conan
Autumn harvest bounty dinner… or whatever you want to call it
One of the things I look forward to most every fall is what my sister and I call "Autumn Harvest Bounty Dinner" or "Fall Bounty Harvest Dinner" or some other made-up name that changes every year. There's no set date for this; it just happens whatever weekend we find ourselves together in the fall. Again, no set plan, but it's a day that usually starts with bopping around the farmers market and ends with cooking together in our pajamas while listening to '90s alt-rock.
There are two dishes that come to mind when I think of Autumnal Equinox Feast: roast chicken and apple galette. That's just what we want to be eating as the air turns crisp and cold; we'll often wing the recipes — especially with a few bourbon-y drinks on board — but Mark's renditions for both are, not surprisingly, quite good and doable. Check out the galette below and take your pick from these recipes for Roast Chicken, 8 Ways. — Daniel Meyer
Makes: 8 servings
Time: About 2 hours
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
9 tablespoons cold butter
1 egg yolk
3 or 4 medium apples, preferably Golden Delicious, or pears, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Crème fraîche, sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse once or twice. Cut 8 tablespoons butter into chunks, and add it and egg yolk to the flour mixture. Process until butter and flour are blended, about 10 seconds. Turn mixture into a bowl, and add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition. After adding 3 or 4 tablespoons you should be able to gather the mixture into a ball; wrap the ball in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or freeze for about 15 minutes).
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll or pat dough into a 10-inch circle; it can be quite crude in shape. Place it on a cookie or pizza sheet, preferably nonstick. Arrange fruit slices on top, right out to edges; make the pattern attractive, if you like. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Cut remaining butter into bits, and top fruit with it. 3. Bake until crust is nicely browned and fruit is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove, and serve warm or at room temperature, with crème fraîche, whipped cream, or ice cream.
— Recipe from The New York Times
Make it spicy
It's funny to see Kerri's response because I too thought of winter squash. Mixed grill — not of meat, but of veg, though we often have meat or fish as one of the components — has become a big staple for us, and on many nights the grill is filled with eggplant, summer squash (bit less now), peppers, onions, tomatoes, odds and ends. And I was thinking about how much I love to grill winter squash, especially delicata — that must be happening soon, no? It's freezing this morning! — alongside the last of the chiles (especially semi-hot ones) and a piece of meat. I think over the last few years winter squash have finally begun to be fully appreciated by more and more cooks, and farmers, too, are beginning to offer us increasingly unusual varieties, each one denser and sweeter than the next. I think especially of a hot paste Rick Easton slathered on grilled winter squash when I visited him and Melissa in Pittsburgh a few years ago.
— Mark Bittman
Winter Squash with Hot Pepper, Garlic, and Mint
Makes: 2 to 4
Time: About 30 minutes
Don’t underestimate the deliciousness of this dish: It makes a good topping for grilled or toasted bread, a filling for a sandwich, or a side dish.
1 densely fleshed winter squash or pumpkin, such as kabocha, kuri, or even butternut
1 garlic clove
1 fresh hot red chile pepper (may substitute sliced hot peppers preserved in oil)
White wine vinegar
A handful of fresh, whole mint leaves
1. Prepare a grill for direct heat.
2. Use a sharp knife or sturdy vegetable peeler to peel the squash. Cut it in half and remove the seeds (save, clean, and roast them if you choose, or discard). Cut into wedges no more than 1 inch thick, or into slices thick enough to grill. Toss in a bowl with some olive oil and salt to coat evenly. Grill over a hot fire until softened and maybe even blackened in spots, turning them as needed. Transfer to a wide, shallow bowl.
3. Thinly slice the garlic and the fresh hot pepper (discarding its stem and seeds); add both to the bowl. Season with salt then add a few drops of the vinegar and the mint. Dress with more olive oil. Toss gently, let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.
4. Alternatively, you can fry the wedges of squash in olive oil or your preferred frying oil, drain on a wire rack, and dress in the same fashion.
— From Bread and How to Eat It, by Rick Easton and Melissa McCart (Knopf 2023).
‘The flavors are perfect’
One of my favorite recipes anytime, but most particularly in the fall when arugula is at its most intense, is Mark's Pasta with Anchovies and Arugula. When you're making it, it doesn't seem like it'll be all that exciting (sorry, MB; keep reading) but it comes together in the most majestic way; the flavors are perfect. Plus, naturally, it's easy. And I think this recipe was developed when Mark realized that, for many reasons, he liked the more veg/less pasta recipe, so the ratio here is very good.
— Kate Bittman
Pasta with Anchovies and Arugula
Makes: 2 to 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
8 anchovy fillets, or more to taste, with some of their oil
½ pound linguine or other long pasta
6 cups arugula, washed, dried, and chopped
½ teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flake
1. Set a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it.
2. Put half of the olive oil in a deep skillet, and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the garlic and the anchovies. When the garlic sizzles and the anchovies break up, turn the heat to its lowest setting.
3. Cook the pasta until it is tender but not mushy. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and drain. Add pasta and arugula to skillet, along with enough of the reserved cooking water to make a sauce. Turn heat to medium, and stir for a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus a pinch or more of red pepper flakes.
4. Turn pasta and sauce into a bowl, toss with remaining olive oil and serve.
— Recipe from The New York Times
‘It grips your autumnal instincts’
Squash? Really? That’s what 10-year-old me would be saying if she knew I expressed even an ounce of excitement over this autumn gourd. What my mom used to try to trick me into eating with propaganda like “it’s just like spaghetti,” (using, of course, spaghetti squash) has turned into one of my absolute favorite pieces of produce during the cooler months. In addition to the nutritional value that comes from eating squash, I simply love the taste. It’s earthy; when prepared properly, it’s chewy without being too soggy; it grips your autumnal instincts as if you’re out on a fall foliage excursion.
I love the many ways to dress and cook squash, a vegetable (OK, technically fruit) that we’re lucky to have thanks to the expertise and culinary traditions of Indigenous people in the Americas. From delicata to acorn to butternut to kabocha and more, the many, many varieties of squash means that it’s nearly impossible to run out of ways to cook the gourd. Craving something savory? Top with Manchego, greens, and a few nuts. In the mood for something sweet? Grab some goat cheese and swap the nuts for a generous drizzle of honey. And, if you’re like me, roasting squash is always the best choice.
One of my absolute favorite ways to cook squash is to make a galette. This recipe from Food & Wine digs into the cherished heartiness of fall dishes and is topped with acorn squash, sausage, ricotta cheese, and a variety of herbs. Again — squash is flexible. Fill your galette dough with any toppings you want: meat, greens, various cheeses, and the likes.
— Kayla Stewart
Fall is an excuse for soup
Since I started writing about food nearly 20 years ago, I’ve been obsessed with soup because I think it’s an interesting statement about a person’s cooking style, whether you’re wing-it kind of cook, a taste-early-and-often kind of cook, or your knife skills reveal you’re super fastidious.
The most memorable soups I’ve had come from D.C. well over a decade ago: I used to LOVE Tom Powers soup at Corduroy, where he’d have a bisque that is beyond anything I’d had before. As a matter of fact, all his soups are knock-it-out-of-the-park great: like today, he’s got Charred Tomato Soup, Northern Neck Corn Soup, and a chilled Avgolemono on the menu; it makes me want to get in the car and drive to the restaurant to order all three. In the spirit of fall and the best soups from Tom Powers, I cannot wait to make Avgolemono. I’m a superfan of all things lemon and wish I were making it tonight.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 45 minutes
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup long-grain rice or orzo
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Minced fresh dill or parsley leaves for garnish
1. Put the stock in a large, deep saucepan or casserole and turn the heat to medium-high. When it is just about boiling, turn the heat down to medium so that it bubbles but not too vigorously. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat under the soup to low.
2. Use a whisk to beat the eggs in a bowl with the lemon zest and juice; still beating, add about 1/2 cup of the hot stock. Gradually add about another cup of the stock, beating all the while. Pour this mixture back into the soup and reheat, but under no circumstances allow the mixture to boil or the eggs will scramble.
3. Taste and add salt, pepper, or lemon juice as necessary. Garnish with the dill and serve.
— Recipe from The Best Recipes in the World