Every year, I can't wait for fall—the colors, the clothes (read: sweater weather) and of course, the food. But sometimes, I feel as if fall flavors, for our generation, are relegated solely to the confines of Starbucks' menu. But, in fact, the many delicious uses of fall foods extend far beyond the esteemed PSL.
With the exception of the occasional apple-picking excursion, fall crops are often overlooked, and frankly, they deserve more credit. Here's a compilation of my favorite autumnal foods that match the most common colors of the season.
1. Claret: Pomegranate
Pomegranate can be a challenge to prepare, but once you get through the saga of removing the seeds, the fruit is a particularly satisfying superfood. In addition to their beauty, pomegranates are high in vitamin C and potassium, a great source of fiber and low in calories.
#SpoonTip: It's super easy to find already deseeded pomegranates in the store, or indulge in some seeds covered in chocolate for a special treat.
2. Burnt Orange: Squash
Squash is a classic fall food (hello, pumpkin-flavored everything) that can be enjoyed many different ways. Side note—yes, pumpkin is a kind of squash, don't fight me on this.My family eats butternut squash pretty much constantly throughout the colder months, and we have also been known to replace some classic pasta dishes with spiralized squash (or zucchini) to cut the calories and amp the nutrients.
3. Hickory: Dates
Because my dad is Lebanese, dates are a year-round snacking staple in my house. They're most commonly found, however, in the fall, and come with tons of health benefits that act as an added bonus to the sweet, chewy bite.
One common way to prepare dates is wrapping them in bacon—and this is a wonderful thing. The already deliciously sweet dates can only be made better by the addition of everyone's favorite breakfast meat.
4. Maroon: Cranberries
I put dried cranberries on everything. Beyond adding a nice color and a touch of sweetness, they also have a super versatile flavor. They can be tossed in with some nuts for a great snack, sprinkled on top of greek yogurt for a power breakfast or added as a garnish to top off a salad. Fresh cranberries are also a hugely popular ingredient for sauces, cookies and even candy this time of year.
5. Pine: Brussels Sprouts
Ignore the voice of your childhood self: Brussels sprouts are delicious (and nutritious). I prefer to sauté them with some olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes, but the possibilities are virtually endless. If you're hesitant, try this easy recipe for sautéed Brussels with honey and pancetta.
6. Butter: Pears
Bartlett pears are the most popular variety in the U.S. thanks to their delicate skin, sweet flavor and crazy levels of juiciness. These pears are equally wonderful for snacking and baking. I choose to pair them with slices of cheese for a simple and healthy afternoon treat.
7. Plum: Blue Potatoes
Obviously, there are unlimited ways to make potatoes. Fried, mashed, baked, hashed, roasted—the list goes on. But if you ever get bored of the classic spud, branch out to the Adirondack blue variety for a potato that maintains its vibrant purple-blue hue throughout all stages of cooking.
Fall is a great opportunity to branch out and try some new dishes, but most especially those ones inspired by the colors of the season itself. So maybe pair your pumpkin spice latté with some bright red pomegranate seeds or butternut squash soup... or just skip the latté altogether.