Falling in Love with Fall Food Part I

Monday, September 14, 2009

While the leaves haven't started changing colors yet, and the temperature is still 86 degrees in Charlotte, fall still seems to be in the air. School is in session, football season has kicked off and weekend camping trips are replacing days spent by the poolside. Along with the new smells and sights of fall comes a slew of new seasonal ingredients. Among favorite fall veggies now in season are pumpkin, squash, eggplant and sweet potatoes.


Possibly my most favorite pumpkin recipe of all times is this Pumpkin Cake recipe that I've been making for years. The moist and delicious cake is a blend of yellow cake mix, canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice which includes one secret ingredient - butterscotch pudding. Serve warm with Cool Whip for an indulgent fall-inspired treat.

One oven-baked breakfast dish that I sampled for the first time last weekend is the Pumpkin-Cinnamon Streusel Buns, a delicious, time-consuming concoction that's well worth the effort to make.

This twist on traditional cinnamon buns is festive and flavorful.
Photo Source: My Recipes

Finally, if you're looking to break out of the realm of pumpkin baked goods, then sample this highly-recommended recipe for Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque. A creamy blend of salty, rich flavors with notes of lemon, pepper and sage. A whopping 91 percent of those who tried this recipe said that it's a keeper and that they'd make it again.


In addition to pumpkin, many other squash varieties are in season during the fall and winter months including butternut squash, acorn squash and spaghetti squash, which are several of my favorites. If you're looking to serve a yummy squash dish, then I'd recommend Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Parmesan Croutons. The rich, creamy soup is well-paired with the parmesan croutons. A dish that's sure to warm you up on a cool fall day, butternut squash soup keeps well and makes for a nice alternative to a brown bag lunch. Check out this Cooking Light article for tips on how to peel and cut butternut squash if you've never done so before. It can be a bit tricky, and if you think it may be too much of a hassle, your local Harris Teeter or another upscale grocery chain may have fresh and frozen pre-cut butternut squash.

When I stumbled on this Winter Panzanella recipe reviewed by Smitten Kitchen, I couldn't contain my excitement. Having recently made a summer version with fresh tastes of basil, tomato and chunks of yummy sourdough bread, I was thrilled to find a version with seasonal roasted vegetables, including squash.

Winter Panzanella incorporates tasty fall and winter veggies
for a fresh and colorful dish.
Photo Source: Smitten Kitchen


An avid eggplant lover, I can't get enough of this funky fall veggie. The key to this somewhat high-maintenance ingredient is in preparation. In some cases you may need to sweat the eggplant by placing peeled and cut slices on a plate and coating them in a generous layer of salt, which will bring out the bitter flavors. The process takes about 30 minutes, and you'll know when it's done because the slices will feel more flexible, bending easily to the touch. Check the eggplant recipe you're using to see if you need to go through this preparation step or if you can skip it.

My all-time favorite eggplant recipe is eggplant parmesan. While I've made it by sweating it and then baking it in a layered casserole dish, I've found that dipping the slices of eggplant first really makes for a much tastier (and much more unhealthy) final product. Try out this version for a hearty, meat-free layered dish. This is another one of those recipes where time equals taste, but if you need a quick eggplant parmesan fix (which I admittedly do at times), pick up some frozen, pre-breaded eggplant slices at your local Trader Joe's.

Other awesome tried-and-true eggplant recipes include Penne with Sausage, Eggplant, and Feta and Stuffed Eggplant, both of which are Cooking Light recipes and healthier options for flavorful fall dishes that will leave you feeling full. And, if you're an eggplant addict like me, then be sure to check out aubergines.org, a fun purple-themed site filled with hundreds of eggplant recipes.

This Cooking Light Stuffed Eggplant recipe received 5-stars from
reviewers and is a tried-and-true dish that plates pretty.
Photo Source: My Recipes

Sweet Potato

The final fall veggie that I'm spotlighting is the sweet potato - another rich, colorful ingredient that offers opportunity that extends beyond traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato casseroles and baked sweet potatoes.

To add some flavor and spice to sweet potato, try out Chipolte Sweet Potatoes or Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges, each of which draws flavor from a blend of spicy herbs. Finally, if you're looking for something on the sweeter side or for a dish that makes for great finger food, try the Harvest Sweet Potato Pecan Tarts. This dish was a big hit at the engagement party last fall. Party goers couldn't resist these sweet miniature sweet potato and pecan pie treats!

Opt for some spice instead of sugar with your sweet potatoes this fall.
Photo Source: Smitten Kitchen

Check back soon for more fall recipes! Part II will pull inspiration from recipes with fall fruits including apples, figs, pomegranates and pears.


Baker's Cakes said...

What a great blog! I LOVE all things fall (probably because I have an October birthday!)!!! Thanks for stopping by my blog! ~danielle

Shannon said...

I love all things fall too, and I agree October is the best the month of the year! Oh, and I think I'm drooling after reading your recent post about strawberry cupcakes - they look almost too pretty to eat!

bennett said...

great writing shannon, very engaging and definitely hunger-inducing.
(it doesn't hurt that eggplant parm is one of my all-time favorite dishes)

lookin forward to part tres.

Shannon said...

Eggplant parmesan is my favorite too! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you're doing well!

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