There’s just something magical about the fall: The weather, the change in season, that feeling that Halloween is almost here, and for some, crunchy leaves, sweaters and bonfires.
And I think we can all agree: No matter what climate you live in, autumn goes hand-in-hand with comfort food, does it not?
I rounded up the following recipes that our family will most certainly be making this fall. Most of them are tried-and-true, as in, we’ve cooked them previously and will do so time and time again.
Without further ado ...
1. These Swedish meatballs
I found this recipe probably about a year ago, simply by typing into Google “best-ever Swedish meatballs.” This was one of the first results listed, and WOW, did the dish ever impress. I made these for a friends dinner, and not only did everyone love them, but they came together really quickly. I wanted to choose a recipe that I wouldn’t be stuck in the kitchen assembling for long, and these were perfect. The only change I made involved using half beef, half ground pork, rather than the all-beef that the original recipe calls for. We served our meatballs over egg noodles with a salad on the side, and it was justttt the comfort food we needed.
2. This chili
You can’t even think about fall food without considering chili. It’s the quintessential autumn meal, but the problem is, there are just SO many variations. (In related news, this is also what makes chili an incredible dish to serve if you’re having lots of people over. Once, for a family party, I did a chili bar, with three different types -- beef, chicken and bean, if I’m remembering correctly -- and all the toppings you could possibly think of. Cheese, sour cream, avocado, green onions, tater tots ... like I said, you name the topping and we offered it). But ANYWAY, sometimes I just want a traditional chili. Not a buffalo chicken chili, not a lentil chili, just chili in a way that feels traditional, at least in my life. Regional differences might kick in, I do realize. All of this has been a long-winded way of saying, John Legend’s chili is so perfectly basic in the most delicious way. It’s balanced, it’s not overly spicy (meaning, the kids can eat it!), it’s easy to make; my husband and I find ourselves going back for this recipe time and time again, even though we can’t put our finger on exactly what makes it so magical. BTW, I’m not sure where this was first printed, but I found it online here.
3. This fall-inspired salad
How Sweet Eats is one of my favorite food blogs of all time (and her cookbooks are incredible, too), but it was only recently that I came across this salad recipe that the blogger, Jessica, published in 2017. I’m not sure how I missed it the first time around, but tell me these elements don’t sound incredible: smoked honey pepita clusters? Sweet and spicy toasted pecans? Cinnamon-shallot vinaigrette? With honeycrisp apples? I didn’t used to be a fruit-in-your-salad kind of girl, but I’ve since evolved. I’m swapping out the cheese and making this -- if all goes well, THIS weekend. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
4. This salmon recipe
So, you’ve heard of beef Wellington, right?
This is salmon Wellington. And it’s ridiculously simple. You just heat up a little spinach-breadcrumbs-parmesan mixture (I’ve used leftover pesto in a pinch, although I do realize it turns out different -- all delicious nonetheless), smear it on your fish, fold up the salmon in some puff pastry, pop her in the oven and you’ll be all ready to eat in about 20-25 minutes. This is one of those dishes that looks impressive, as in, your friends will be all, “you made WHAT?” But believe me when I say, it’s even easier than it looks to prepare. Don’t thank me. Thank whoever makes that frozen puff pastry.
This dinner feels like a hug on a plate.
5. A classic spaghetti
Here’s another tried-and-true favorite: EatLiveRun’s spaghetti with meat sauce. Oh my gosh, does this ever take boring old meat sauce to new heights. I’m not sure if it’s the wine, the garlic salt, again, the beef-ground pork combo, the cheese baked into the sauce, or what -- but it’s just so tangy and decadent and excellent. I probably prepare this once every 4-6 months (it makes a HUGE batch; prepare to freeze half, or just half the recipe from the start), but the people in my life go equally crazy for it. Don’t be shy when you’re adding the wine, it all cooks down, and makes for the best flavor. And don’t let the mushrooms turn you off, either. It’s true that there are quite a few involved, but I just stick mine in the food processor, and they almost have a meaty quality to them. The sauce isn’t overly mushroomy-tasting, so give this one a chance! Serve with plenty of garlic bread for dipping and a nice Caesar.
6. This cozy curry
I realize I haven’t strayed much from the classics, and I also haven’t included much up until now for the vegans and vegetarians in the crowd. (Sorry, guys!)
But this one is for you: It’s a basil chickpea curry, and it packs a tonnnn of flavor. My husband and I loved this when we made it last fall. Even the recipe author herself writes online, “It’s warming, comforting, so ridiculously easy, super flavorful and comes together very fast.” We love to hear it.
Serve this with some naan and rice, use up any remaining basil from your garden, and you’ll be glad you did.
7. My all-time favorite pasta
While we’re outside the box, let’s stay for a minute and chat about Chrissy Teigen’s spicy miso pasta. I couldn’t rave about this more if I tried -- I recommend it to friends, family, strangers; anyone who will listen. It’s carbonara-like, but with a Thai twist. Yes, this is a bit of a cheat-night/special occasion meal, at least, calorically speaking, I’m sure, but one time, I was grumpy around lunchtime and it occurred to me that I had all the ingredients on hand, and could probably whip it up in less than a half hour. So it’s not a challenging meal. You really can’t mess this one up, so long as you don’t scramble your eggs when you’re adding them back to the hot noodles. This is just so creamy and dreamy and spicy and crunchy and HEAVENLY. One of my best quarantine finds.
8. An incredible chicken noodle soup
We follow this New York Times recipe pretty closely, with just one exception: We never have, or bother with, the creme fraiche.
And I do realize you can buy the canned stuff, or the boxed stuff, or maybe there’s a frozen version, too. Blah. You don’t want that. You’re reading this, allegedly because you’re after “cozy-sounding fall recipes *you need in your life.*” This homemade chicken noodle soup fits the bill, every time.
9. While we’re at it, these cookies.
I’ve written about them previously. I was a guest on my colleague’s podcast to chat about them. They’re the best of the best, and you can throw every other chocolate chip cookie recipe out the window once you try these. Is it the cornstarch, that helps keep them fluffy inside, but still nice and crispy on the edges? Is it chilling the dough, or using room temperature eggs, or browning the butter? (I added that step on my own). We might never know. But this is the recipe that started it all for me, and I just cannot get enough.
10. These short ribs
These are on my list for the coming weeks, and I really put a lot of faith in The Pioneer Woman when it comes to this recipe. The pictures are awe-inspiring. The meat looks fall-off-the-bone tender. I can’t think of anything I’d rather pair with mashed potatoes, another classic fall staple. And short ribs are divine. Let’s do this.
11. These chicken and dumplings
OK, my third and final recipe from How Sweet Eats: These are SO tasty, and I had no idea it was that simple to make your own dumplings. You just whip together the flour mixture, drop your dough on top of the simmering Dutch oven concoction, and somehow, the culinary gods just bring it all together for you. My only pro tip here is, take Jessica’s advice and use chicken thighs. I had some leftover chicken breast that I improvised with once, but it wasn’t nearly as flavorful or rich.
OK, now that we’re all hungry, please tell me in the comments: What are you making first?