As fall temperatures push us indoors, it’s time once again to crowd around the stew pot, make pie from fresh-picked apples, and drink our cocktails hot. Rather than resent the passing of summer, we indulge fully in its successor: its rituals, abundances, and opportunities for togetherness.
The best fall cooking highlights seasonal flavors and produce, preserves the best of summer’s bounty, and brings people together in preparation for harsher months ahead. We believe one of the season’s great joys is its implicit permission to focus on the simple pleasures of keeping ourselves fed — and feed ourselves we do.
Embrace the season’s culinary practices, celebrations, and ingredients with these autumnal tips.
1. Turn summer’s bounty into winter staples.
Just as spring showers give way to summer flowers, summer loot becomes autumn vittles. Make tomatoes into sauce, basil into pesto, cucumbers into pickles, peaches into jam. Envoys from a warmer time, these foodstuffs help us endure harsh weather and make excellent gifts come holiday season.
When making sauce, simply substitute fresh tomatoes for canned, but remember to adjust seasoning as you go, as fresh tomatoes are more acidic. And though we don’t always crave deliciously spicy Thai fish soup in July, summer is the perfect time to stock up on the ingredients for its fresh curry base, which will last up to three months in the freezer. Underripe peaches and mangoes make for excellent pickles or chutney, and would shine dolloped on salmon burgers or fish tacos.
2. Get creative with fall produce.
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are delicious and abundant, as are root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets. And we can’t forget perhaps the most recognizable symbols of the season: pumpkins, squash, and apples.
Our za'atar-spiced salmon pairs sweet and tender delicata squash with nutty tahini, while our salmon buddha bowl adds sweet potatoes, beets, and edamame (available perennially in the freezer section) to black rice. We use beets to make gravlax, and dollop this apple shallot relish over pretty much any cooked fish. The world’s your orchard. Oyster. Whichever.
3. Lean on canned and dried goods.
Produce is seasonal, but canned is forever. Tomatoes are cheap and delicious if you pick the right brand. Dried beans make for incredible soups and stews, and their tinned companions are endlessly versatile and quick to cook. Brined vegetables — think artichokes, peppers, capers — are indispensable to cold-weather cooking, adding freshness, brightness, and punchy flavor.
When seeking a Mediterranean flavor-bomb for a cold, sunless evening, canned peppers, olives, and seafood are a reliable formula. Try adding roasted piquillo peppers to your next dish to impart sweet, briny, smoky flavor, like we do in this wine-poached salmon. And this seafood pasta with artichokes, olives, and capers makes no compromises on flavor, but is an easy weeknight dish because everything you need to make it probably already lives on your fridge door.
4. Turn your seafood scraps into stock
In cold weather, soup reigns supreme. Hang on to your seafood scraps (shells, claws, roe) and keep them in the freezer. A lazy Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to simmer them gently with leeks, peppercorns, and any other flavorings you’d like. In no time at all, you’ll have rich, buttery stock — the bedrock of much comfort food to come. For lovers of chowder, these white fish and creamy chipotle options are both winners, but we also love this Smoked Salmon and Halibut Bisque.
5. Experiment with brown butter.
Nutty, toasty, and rich, brown butter shines as potently in savory main courses as it does in chocolate chip cookies. It’s simple but requires patience, as the greatest things often do.
Add cubed butter to a medium cast iron skillet or nonstick pan and cook over medium heat — this will ensure even cooking. Stir constantly, but gently, to agitate the butter and prevent burning. It will foam and sizzle, but keep stirring. When done, the foam will have receded and the butter will be golden brown and smell like toasted nuts. Don’t let the heady aroma distract you — it’s time to pull it off the heat.
Though delicious alone, infusing brown butter with other ingredients (sage for a classic combo, or tahini for sweet intensity) is a most delicious experiment. This salmon recipe adds capers to cut the richness, while this pan-seared lingcod ups the nutty factor with toasted pistachios. And in this salmon rillettes recipe, the brown butter is subtly incorporated into a rich, luscious spread, perfect for autumn cocktail parties or (our preference) random, senseless snacking.
6. Go big on flavor.
As temperatures drop, it’s easy to slide into a comfort food coma. Keep lethargy at bay with big flavors — we’re talking spice, citrus, you name it. Our Shrimp and Crab Etouffee is no doubt delicious, but this Smoky Peel-and-Eat Shrimp will wake up your senses and get your hands dirty. For the best of both worlds, try Warm Curried Crab Dip or this Coconut Lime Braised Sablefish. Both are soft and soothing, but pack a flavorful punch.
7. Shop and savor local foods.
Make a ritual of your weekly farmer’s market jaunt — it’s cause to see each season as a new selection of delights. As we bid farewell to corn, berries, and peaches, we welcome maple syrup, apple cider, and wild mushrooms. Wander around stacks of pumpkins, ogle mounds of purple romanesco, snack on cider donuts, and make frivolous purchases of dried goldenrod bouquets. In the background, the leaves turn red, the air is crisp, and spirits are high. When you get home, use your loot to make this Maple-Cider Baked Salmon with Sweet Potatoes.
Celebrate all year long with a seafood subscription box to fit your needs.