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Guide to the Harvest: Best Fall Vegetables and Fruits for Cooking

By: Adriana Funke, Editor, RecipeLion.com
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash and Arugula Pasta
5-Ingredient Butternut Squash and Arugula Pasta
This image courtesy of gimmesomeoven.com

Fall is a time of opposites — like the tug-of-war between summer and winter, or trees turning vibrant colors and then going dormant. Many people think that fall is also when fresh produce becomes harder to find. However, that isn't the case. There are hundreds of fall vegetables and fruits that ripen from late summer through early winter. Harvest time is when some of the most delicious produce hits the farmer's markets. They make fall recipes come alive with flavor and texture. Of course, many of these fruits and vegetables are now grown all throughout the world, which means they're available almost year-round. Still, even produce that you wouldn't think of as having a season (like apples) still traditionally ripen during one part of the year.

Fall foods are often brightly colored and provide intense flavors to any dish. They're used in everything from pasta dishes to desserts and drinks. The fall produce in this collection may be some you've known about before. But did you know that limes and artichokes reach their peak ripeness in the fall? Peruse this list to find more fall vegetables and fruits and how you can use them in your everyday cooking.

Fall Vegetables

  1. Artichokes. The first harvest of artichokes occurs in the spring. They are, however, harvested again in the fall when they are much smaller. Artichokes are delicious when steamed, fried, stuffed, or served in a variety of other ways. Try this Artichoke and Spinach Dip, this Cheesy Artichoke Heart Appetizer, or this Healthy Barbecue Veggie Pizza.

  2. Arugula. This leafy green vegetable (sometimes called "rocket") has a spicy, peppery taste. It's most commonly found in salads or pasta dishes such as Stawberry Arugula Salad and 5-Ingredient Butternut Squash and Arugula Pasta.

  3. Broccoli. This crunchy, green vegetable is a staple in many households. Children may not be particularly big fans of broccoli, but it is delicious when served in Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup, Loaded Broccoli Salad, or a Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry.

  4. Brussels sprouts. These fall vegetables are most often served as a side dish such as in this Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon recipe. They also bring a ton of flavor when cooked together with other foods like in this Tender Cod Fillets with Sauted Brussel Sprouts and Proscuitto dish.

  5. Cauliflower. This vegetable is grown all year round, but the best ones are harvested during the cooler months. Try making Cauliflower Mac and Cheese or Cauliflower Pizza Sticks.

  6. Eggplant. This dark purple vegetable is another one that can be grown throughout the year. However, richer tasting and denser specimens are found in the fall. They're excellent in Italian recipes or stuffed with cheese and other vegetables. Use this fall vegetable in Rolled Eggplant Lasagna with Proscuitto or Stuffed Eggplant Halves.

  7. Potatoes. There are hundreds of types of potatoes grown throughout the world. Most come into season in the fall months. From russet to red to yellow, potatoes are used in an almost endless amount of foods. Russet potatoes are by far the most common in the U.S. Try Fully Loaded Potluck Potato Bake,  Potato Soup, or Amish Potato Rolls.

  8. Squash. Squash and guords are probably the most well-known fall harvest food. You'll often find them used as decoration on people's tables or front porches. Acorn, butternut, and delicata squashes, as well as pumpkins, all come into season during the cooler months. Depending on the variety and the other ingredients in the recipe, they can add a sweet or savory flavor to the dish. Try Stuffed Pumpkin French Toast Bake, Acorn Squash Bisque, or Butternut Squash Au Gratin.

Fall Fruits

  1. Apples. There are literally thousands of varieties of apples. Many types, such as Pink Lady, Fuji, and Gold Rush, are harvested during early or mid fall. Different types of apples are typially used for different things: some make better pies, apple sauces, or ciders while others are best eaten "out of hand." Incorporate apples into your fall recipes by making Simple Light and Creamy Apple Salad, Irish Apple Cake with Custard Sauce, or a Turkey, Apple, and Cheddar Sandwich.

  2. Cranberries. These little fruits usually only grace American tables in the fall for Thanksgiving. However, they're absolutely delicious in baked goods, salads, and other dishes. Try Orange Cranberry Sauce with Apples, Dessert Cheese Ball with Cranberries and Mixed Nuts, and Holiday Cake with Sugared Cranberries.

  3. Figs. These fruits are often considered exotic by many people. They have two harvest seasons: once in June and again from late summer through mid-late fall. Figs are a sweet and juicy addition to any dish. Give this underrated fruit a try by making Apple Fig Stuffed Chicken Breasts or Dried Fig and Apricot Stuffing.

  4. Limes. This citrus fruit has a long harvest season that runs from May through October. This makes them perfect for summer recipes as well as for adding bright flavor to fall foods. Try Creamy Coconut Lime Popsicles, Key Lime Pie, or Zesty Margarita Steak.

  5. Pomegranates. These are among the strangest looking fruits. The "fruit" is actually the crunchy seeds that burst with flavor. They turn a deep red when ripe. You can eat them fresh or use them in dishes such as Smokehouse Almond, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Toasts, Apple Pomegranate Salad, or Cran-Pomegranate Citrus Slushie.

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I read that it's always cheaper and more delicious to eat produce in season, so I'm definitely gonna try it this fall! Thanks for the guide!

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