Leaves aren’t the only things dropping during the fall. Prices on seasonal produce take a tumble, too.
Not only is in-season produce is at its cheapest, but those fruits and vegetables are at their prime, flavor-wise. It doesn’t take much work to prepare amazing dishes. There’s a variety to work with this time of year, too.
“Fall means an abundance of root vegetables, squash, kale and sprouts,” says Emily Wilson, executive culinary director and resident chef for Cooking Planit. “The whole season seems to celebrate the warmest and most nourishing foods.”
6 picks priced for a spot on your menu:
At the cheapest, sweet potatoes can dip to around $1 per pound. Pureed, they can be used in everything from soups to French toast.
For another take, Peter Pollay, owner and executive chef at Posana Café in Asheville, N.C., uses them in a gluten-free buttermilk biscuit.
A huge bunch can cost just a buck. Try it simply sautéed, cooked into a potato-chip like crisp, or in soup.
“I tend to favor rich, creamy, hearty soups, but I love how a lighter broth-based soup can be healthy and satiating all at the same time,” Wilson says.
Her recipe for a kale and white bean soup fits the bill.
Pick up a bag for just a few dollars and you’ll have enough for pies, salads, preserves and other recipes.
Chef Andrew Chambers of the New York Wine & Culinary Center makes a cinnamon roll baked apple.
To make it, preheat the oven to 400°F. Core eight apples and cut a thin slice from the bottom of each so they will stand upright. Place in a baking dish.
Fill cored-out apples with a tablespoon of raisins or dried fruit. Pour a half-cup of apple juice or cider around apples in the dish. Drizzle three tablespoons honey over dried fruit filling and apples.
Bake apples until tender, basting frequently with pan juices, about 20 minutes. Remove from baking liquid and let cool and dry on a wire rack.
While apples are cooling, whisk together a half-cup milk, two teaspoons yeast, a teaspoon sugar, three tablespoons canola oil, and an egg white. Let set for five minutes.
In a separate bowl, sift together 1 ¾ cup flour and a half-teaspoon salt. Stir into liquid mixture until a ball is formed. Kneed for three minutes, then let rest for ten minutes.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle and brush with a quarter-cup of melted butter. Sprinkle with a mix of a quarter-cup brown sugar and a tablespoon cinnamon.
Cut the dough into eight two-inch-wide strips. Gently wrap the dough around the apples and bake for fifteen minutes.
This time of year, many varieties of pears can be had for $1 to $1.50 per pound. Mindy Kobrin of MealsOnHeelsByMindy.com pairs them with Brussels sprouts for a tasty fall salad.
To make, preheat oven to 400°F. Halve three pears, and then cut each half into four lengthwise slices. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Roast for 20 minutes, flipping once after 10 minutes. Let cool.
While the pears are cooking, toast a half-cup of hazelnuts in a sauté pan over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Set aside and chop once cool.
Combine two tablespoons each of hazelnut oil and fresh lemon juice in a large bowl. Remove the stems of four cups Brussels sprouts, and blanch. Add to dressing.
Garnish each plate with a few thin strips of prosciutto, a little lemon zest and nuts. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and season with salt and fresh pepper.
Pumpkin and other squash are fall’s powerhouses, packing lots of nutrients for as little as 25 cents per pound.
Try it on pizza or in risotto, and use the toasted seeds to garnish other dishes.
For another option, try these savory pumpkin pop tarts from executive chef Sean Canavan of San Francisco’s Tender Greens.
It works just as well, he says, with other seasonal fillings such as mushrooms and greens.
Prices can be roughly $1 per pound, in season. Combine them with another fall fave—apples—for soup.
Or try Wilson’s recipe for root vegetable tian, which makes use of them in a casserole layered with sweet potatoes and other seasonal vegetables.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.