I have put together a list of 5 essential fall recipes—comforting slow-cooker braised chicken, a veggie-packed autumn stew, a super-seasonal green pizza, creamy mushroom chicken and crumb-topped apple cinnamon bars—that you’ll want to learn to make to take advantage of fall’s best ingredients. With the aroma of these delicious recipes wafting from your kitchen, I promise you won’t want to be anywhere else. By Hilary Meyer
Autumn Chicken Stew
This simple chicken stew stars three of fall’s best crops—apples, carrots and parsnips. Serve with toasted sharp Cheddar cheese sandwiches and a brown ale
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 3 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add onion, parsnips, carrots, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth and apples; bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and stir in vinegar.
Cooking time: 45 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Per serving: 208 calories; 6 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 42 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 19 g protein; 4 g fiber; 621 mg sodium; 630 mg potassium.
Wine & Tomato Braised Chicken
Fall is the time to dust off your slow cooker and enjoy rich flavors that have been stewing for hours. Here chicken thighs cook in a simple herb-infused tomato-and-wine sauce. The bone-in thighs give it plenty of hearty flavor, and since you cook them without the skin, it keeps the dish healthy. There’s plenty of sauce, so serve it over pappardelle or brown rice. Steamed broccoli or sautéed broccoli rabe tossed with olive oil and a splash of lemon juice complete the meal.
Makes 10 servings
Active time: 45 minutes
Slow-cooker time: 3 3/4-6 3/4 hours
To make ahead: Prepare Steps 1 & 2, cover and refrigerate bacon and sauce separately for up to 1 day.
To finish, bring the sauce to a simmer and continue with Step 3. The cooked chicken and sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Equipment: 4-quart or larger slow cooker
Cost per serving: under $2
4 slices bacon
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine (see Tip)
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, with juice, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
10 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 3/4 pounds), skin removed, trimmed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble when cool.
- Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, fennel seeds, pepper and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Add tomatoes and their juice and salt; stir well.
- Place chicken thighs in a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker. Sprinkle the bacon over the chicken. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender, about 3 hours on High or 6 hours on Low. Remove the bay leaf. Serve sprinkled with parsley.
Per serving: 260 calories; 13 g fat (4 g sat, 5 g mono); 88 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 25 g protein; 1 g fiber; 492 mg sodium; 392 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C & Zinc (18% daily value).
1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat
Why not use cooler-weather vegetables like broccoli and arugula as an unconventional pizza topping? The arugula adds a slightly bitter, peppery taste—for a milder flavor, use spinach instead. Serve with wedges of fresh tomato tossed with vinegar, olive oil, basil and freshly ground pepper.
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 30 minutes
1 pound prepared pizza dough, preferably whole-wheat
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/4 cup water
5 ounces arugula, any tough stems removed, chopped (about 6 cups)
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Position oven rack in the lowest position; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about the size of the baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook broccoli and water in a large skillet over medium heat, covered, until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in arugula and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread pesto evenly over the crust, top with the broccoli mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.
Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 323 calories; 13 g fat (4 g sat, 7 g mono); 19 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 15 g protein; 3 g fiber; 511 mg sodium; 241 mg potassium.
Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce
When cooler weather arrives it’s time to put comfort food back on the menu. The tricky part if keeping it healthy. The secret to a good cream sauce is always the same: not too much cream or it can be overpowering, masking the more delicate flavors (and adding calories and fat). Here it contains a bountiful amount of mushrooms and is served over chicken breasts.
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 30 minutes
2 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and tenders removed (see Tip)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
2 tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or scallion greens
- Season chicken with pepper and salt on both sides.
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once or twice and adjusting the heat to prevent burning, until brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Add shallot to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Pour in vermouth (or wine); simmer until almost evaporated, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Pour in broth and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cream and chives (or scallions); return to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with sauce and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 275 calories; 15 g fat (5 g sat, 7 g mono); 84 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrate; 25 g protein; 1 g fiber; 373 mg sodium; 370 mg potassium.
Apple-Cinnamon Fruit Bars
Nothing says fall like apples. These easy apple-cinnamon fruit bars make a big batch—perfect for fall parties or a lunchbox treat.
Makes: 18 bars
Active time: 40 minutes
Total: 2 3/4 hours (including 1 1/2 hours cooling time)
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate the crust and topping (Steps 1-2) for up to 1 day. Cover or individually wrap and refrigerate the cooled bars for up to 5 days.
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts) or old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Tip)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
6 cups diced peeled apples, divided
1/2 cup apple cider or orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- To prepare crust: Combine 3/4 cup nuts (or oats), whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter; pulse until well incorporated.
- Whisk egg, oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract in a small bowl. With the motor running, add the mixtureto the food processor. Process, then pulse, scraping down the sides, if necessary, until the mixture begins to clump, 30 to 45 seconds (it will look crumbly). Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture and combine in a bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup chopped nuts (or oats). Set aside for the topping.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- To prepare fruit filling & assemble bars: Combine 4 cups apples, cider (or orange juice), sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 cups apples, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish. Spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Spread the fruit filling over the crust.. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the filling.
- Bake the bars for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake until the crust and topping are lightly brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. Let cool completely before cutting into bars, at least 1 1/2 hours.
Per bar: 193 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 2 g mono); 19 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrate; 11 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 69 mg sodium; 74 mg potassium.
What fall recipes do you get excited to make?
By Hillery Meyer
EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.