Fun Fall Food Pairings That Will Up Your Cooking Game

Vegetable and fruit photos via Shutterstock.com

Don't be sad that summer produce is gone - who needs tomatoes and peppers when you have the delicious bounty of fall? When the weather starts to cool down, I love to put on a dad sweater and head to my local farmers' market for beautiful fall produce - like juicy pears, colorful pumpkins and earthy Brussels sprouts. We've put together some fun combinations for fall fruits and vegetables to help you up your cooking game now that decorative gourd season has begun! Check out the infographic (plus some recipe roundups) below.

Pro Tip: Check out our Seasonal Food Guide to find out what's in season right now in your area. 

Happy cooking!

 

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Sunchokes

What is a sunchoke, you ask? The vegetable formerly known as "Jerusalem artichokes" is the tuberous root of a native North American plant in the sunflower family - neither from Jerusalem nor related to artichokes. Easy to cook (roast them! Puree them! Eat them raw!), with a delicious, nutty flavor, sunchokes are a great fall vegetable. (Just beware their side effects - they've even earned themselves a colorful nickname.)

Sunchokes + Parsley

Make the easiest salad ever: using a sharp knife or a mandolin, shaved unpeeled sunchokes into thin slices. Top with shaved parmesan and a handful of whole parsley leaves (stems removed). Add a generous sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper and a glug of good olive oil. Squeeze half a lemon over the whole lot and you're good to go.

Sunchokes + Pumpkins

Roast halved sunchokes and chunks of pumpkin together, spiced with a little cumin and cayenne. Or make this sunchoke soup topped with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil.

Sunchokes + Celery

Martha Stewart got it right with this sunchoke, celery and green apple salad with mustard vinaigrette - perfect as a fall side.

Sunchokes + Quince

Make this recipe for roasted quince and vegetables and revel in the sweet-sour-earthy flavors of your newest favorite side dish. (Substitute sunchokes for the parsnips.)

Sunchokes + Arugula

Step 1 : roast sunchokes. Step 2 : add dried berries, sunflower seeds and arugula leaves. Step 3 : toss with ginger vinaigrette. Get the recipe here

Pears

When summer's bounty of local fruit finally trickles down into just a handful of options, like pears, I find myself thankful for the fruit's versatility: delicious eaten out of hand, of course, pears are also delightful turned into a sauce, roasted and poached. They also pair well with lots of fall-centric savory ingredients.    

Pears + Arugula

Looking for an ultra-simple appetizer for your next cocktail party? Here it is: slices of juicy pears, plus the peppery bite of arugula leaves and the creamy tang of blue cheese, all wrapped up with salty prosciutto.  

Pears + Celery Root

This celery root and pear soup has got just the barest hint of cardamom - an unexpected, and perfectly delicious, addition.

Pears + Farro

Chewy, nutty farro is a perfect foil for sweet, juicy pears, as in this fall salad with farro, pears, apples and a citrus vinaigrette.

Pears + Acorns

Yes, we said acorns. Make these acorn pancakes. Top with this chunky apple-pear sauce and a dollop of ricotta. Eat.

Pears + Kale

I like to toss all kinds of fruit into my kale salads, but pears really are one of the best. My favorite kinds to use are Asian pears or Boscs, because they hold their shape the best when added to a hearty salad. Throw in some pumpkin or sunflower seeds and a few gratings of parmesan or ricotta salata and you've got a delicious, easy fall side. 

Walnuts

Who doesn't love a nut that looks like the two hemispheres of the brain? And even better, walnuts are brain food, containing lots of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, essential nutrients necessary for building brain and nerve cells. They are also delicious paired with other seasonal fruits and veggies.

Walnuts + Kale

Did someone say kale with pan-fried walnuts?

Walnuts + Persimmons

Pastry chef David Lebovitz has never steered me wrong, so I was excited to try his recipe for James Beard's Persimmon Bread, which includes a delicious quantity of both pureed persimmons and crunchy walnuts.

Walnuts + Apples

Make apple-walnut chutney with roasted chicken liver pâté. Your guests will swoon.

Walnuts + Beets

One of my go-to fall side dishes is a roasted beet salad with toasted walnuts. Sometimes I add orange segments, sometimes salty cheese (think: goat or ricotta salata). Sometimes a bit of chopped chives or shaved fennel. Here's the best way to roast beets and toast walnuts.

Walnuts + Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato slices, roasted until caramelized. Stilton cheese. Candied walnuts. Fried sage, and a walnut oil-lemon vinaigrette. Is anyone else hungry? Here's the recipe

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are adorable and versatile - they taste great roasted, raw, steamed and deep fried (actually, what doesn't taste good deep fried?). Their earthy flavor pairs well with sweeter ingredients, like sweet potatoes, cider and shallots, but they also work with savory flavors like sage (and pork, for that matter) and whole grains.

Brussels Sprouts + Sweet Potatoes

This hearty curried Brussels sprouts with sweet potatoes and chickpeas would make a great, filling main dish or an awesome addition to a vegetarian meal.

Brussels Sprouts + Sage

Roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta and sage. Need we say more?

Brussels Sprouts + Cider

I wouldn't have thought to pair cinnamon with Brussels sprouts, but then I saw this recipe for pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, apple cider, apples and cinnamon and changed my mind. Yum!

Brussels Sprouts + Shallots

Shallots and Brussels sprouts are naturals together, like in this recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Balsamic Vinegar or this genius take on the classic Thanksgiving side, green bean salad, which subs Brussels sprouts for the beans and crispy shallots for the fried onions.

Brussels Sprouts + Wild Rice

Maple-Sriracha roasted Brussels sprouts with wild rice pairs the delicious Native American grain with earthy Brussels sprouts, sweet maple syrup, tart cranberries and spicy Sriracha - yup, this one is going on our short list for Thanksgiving sides.

 

This post was originally published in October 2015.