For that cold autumn afternoon…
Pumpkins: the traditional veggie (or excuse me, fruit) of Autumn that can be found everywhere and in everything as soon as the calendars flip to September. Pumpkin flavored coffee, pies, tea, candy, breads, pudding, seeds, pasta, soups…you name it, and somewhere in some restaurant or store, there’ll be a pumpkin flavored version of it. While pumpkins taste good, they’re not the only fall vegetable in stores. Veggies like butternut squash, zucchini, and sweet potatoes are also really great, and can be used to make delicious Autumn recipes. Here’s my list of seven that are easy to make, taste good and are healthy, and can be enjoyed by vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike.
Potato Soup (Vegetarian or Meat-Friendly)
This is a crock-pot recipe which will take 7-8 hours to cook—so don’t make this when you’re already hungry for dinner. But what’s great about this recipe is that once you put all the chopped up ingredients in the crock-pot in the morning, you don’t have to do anything with it until dinner time—all you have to do is turn off the heat, add a few simple ingredients, and eat!
6 cups peeled, diced potatoes
6 cups veggie or chicken broth (you can buy already filled containers at the store or mix-it-yourself jars)
1 medium chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Combine all these ingredients in your crock-pot. Cover and cook on high for 7-8 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare for a full day of having an apartment that smells amazing (Warning: this soup attracts guests)? Prior to serving, stir in one 12-oz. can of evaporated milk, 8 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese, and either 3 T of chopped fresh parsley or 3 tsp. of dried parsley.
Optional: Once your soup is ready, you can stir in 3 slices (or more) of cooked, crushed up bacon or cubed ham slices.
Ratatouille (Vegetarian/Vegan or Meat-Friendly)
Remember the Pixar movie of the same name, with the rat trying to perfect the deceptively simple dish, ratatouille? Outside of fancy French restaurants catering to food critics, ratatouille is an easy recipe to make. Just get ready for lots of chopping and spice adding.
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet (that has a lid). Peel and chop a small sweet onion and sauté along with 4 cloves of minced garlic and a bay leaf (this isn’t absolutely necessary if you don’t have one, but you can buy a small jar of them in the spice aisle of the grocery store). Peel and chop up an eggplant and add it to the mix. Next, add 1 ½ tsp. salt plus the following spices:
2 T fresh basil OR 2 tsp. dried basil
1 T fresh rosemary OR 1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 T fresh marjoram OR 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
Cover the skillet and cook all the veggies and spices over medium heat for about 15 minutes (stir occasionally). Chop up either 2 small zucchinis or 1 large one (peeling first is optional) and add them to your mix. Then add a green pepper (cut in strips), and your choice of a red or orange pepper for color and taste. Add either 2 cups of chopped tomatoes OR (much easier) a can or two of diced tomatoes.
Simmer about 10 minutes, until all veggies are tender. Serve over pasta, rice, or quinoa, and impress your friends and family with your international culinary masterpiece!
Optional: Add Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley, black olives, and/or sausage to your finished dish.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and while heating, chop up 1 head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces (there’s no wrong way to do this—just pull apart and slice). Place on ungreased cookie sheet, and lightly drizzled with oil, mixing them so they’re all covered. If you like lots of flavor, sprinkle with garlic powder. Place in oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until brown-ish (you’ll know when they’re done). Meanwhile, chop 3 medium-sized potatoes into cubes and dice 1 sweet onion. Add all to a large pot, and bring this, 2 cloves of garlic, and 7 cups of water to a boil. You can also add carrots or celery if you love either. Reduce heat (to 5 or low, depending on how fast you want it to cook), until potatoes are tender. Add in cooked cauliflower and spices. I love strong flavors, so I add lots of pepper, salt, garlic, oregano, and basil or thyme until it tastes amazing and makes my eyes water. But it’s all up to preference—taste test and see what spices you like best. Once the spices are added, mash soup (so no large pieces of cauliflower) until it’s a relatively smooth consistency, let cool, and serve!
Zucchini/Onion Pie (Vegetarian)
The name of this recipe is misleading, just like when us New Yorkers confuse others by calling a single pizza a ‘pie.’ This recipe is savory, not sweet, and instead of a pie or quiche consistency, is more like a giant flavorful biscuit or scone. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as an appetizer and main meal.
In a large bowl, whisk 3 eggs, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, ½ cup canola oil, 1 T minced fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried parsley), 1 minced garlic clove, ¼ tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Add and stir 3 cups of sliced zucchini, 1 cup of Bisquick, and 1 small chopped onion. Pour into a greased 9 in. deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes (or until lightly browned). Depending on your oven, it might take a shorter or longer time to cook, so make sure to do the toothpick test: get a toothpick and stab into the middle area. If it comes out dry, then the zucchini/onion pie is ready. If there’s sticky mixture on it, then it needs to be cooked longer.
Lentil/Butternut Squash Soup (Vegetarian/Vegan or Meat-Friendly)
This soup is perfect for a cold Autumn day. It’s satisfying and packed with the rich flavors of cumin and cinnamon that makes it worth overcoming its off-putting, swamp-like appearance.
Heat some olive oil in a soup pot with a dash of cumin. Chop a sweet onion and sauté. Add 8 cups of veggie or chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups of dried lentils, and one butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into small chunks). FYI—Trader Joe’s sells bags of already chopped squash, which will make your time in the kitchen much shorter. Cover the pot and gently simmer for one hour. Add 2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. cumin, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Cook for 15 more minutes. Mash so the consistency is relatively smooth, serve, and eat!
Optional: Put shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese on top and/or mix in cubed ham slices.
Peel sweet potatoes (if small, you might need a whole bag) and chop into chunks that fit 4 cups. Stick in a pot with enough water to cover them and boil until soft. Drain the pot, and mash the sweet potatoes. Meanwhile, chop 1 ½ cups of onion (sweet or yellow), and put in a large frying pan. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 T of oil and sauté until translucent.
Then add: 2 tsp. dried oregano and 1 ½ tsp. each of dried basil, marjoram, chili powder, and cumin. Next, add your mashed sweet potato mixture to your frying pan, and mix with salt and pepper (as much as you like) until completely blended.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and oil 1-2 baking sheets. Get a tortilla, and put about ¼ to ½ cup of the sweet potato and spice mixture in the middle, leaving approximately a ½ inch sweet-potato-free border. Add 2 T shredded cheddar cheese on top, and fold tortilla in half. Place on baking sheets, and repeat until the mixture or tortillas are all gone. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Optional: Add greens to your quesadillas (like the picture shows) and/or top your tortillas with cheese, sour cream, and salsa.
Okay, this one isn’t necessarily “healthy,” but you’ve got to splurge from time to time, right? Apple pies aren’t always easy to make, so this apple cobbler recipe is a perfect compromise between effort and taste. As with apple pie slices, this is most delicious when served warm over vanilla ice cream!
With a hand mixer, combine 1/2 lb. (1 stick) of softened butter, 2 cups of flour, and 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl. In another large bowl, mix the following until it becomes syrup:
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 T of water (can add a little more if you like it really gooey)
Next, add 3 granny smith apples and 3 gala apples (cored, peeled, and sliced) until all are covered in goo. Put the apple mixture into an 8″ x 8″ pan or a round casserole dish (which works great too). Then crumble the topping from the first bowl and put on the apple mixture, covering completely. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes until dark golden brown.
Enjoy these delicious, easy, and, with the exception of the apple cobbler, really healthy Autumn recipes!
Katie is a Staff Writer for the Daily Runner.