Comfort food starters and sides recipes for fall

Published October 15, 2014

Fall is officially upon us, meaning it's time to switch from your heirloom tomato salads over to your roasted butternut squashes and autumn pumpkin soups. Chillier weather brings the outdoor picnics you've become accustomed to back inside, and nothing will warm up guests at your next dinner party like some comforting seasonal treats.

You don't need to over-think your fall-friendly dishes. Think hearty squashes, fresh (or canned) pumpkin, and rich, earthy sweet potatoes, and have your roasting dishes at the ready.

1. Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Shells

 (Amanda Bernal, Girl Who Bakes)

The beauty of stuffed shells is, that no matter the season, you can find a way to make it fit  by switching up the ingredients. Amanda of Girl Who Bakes uses turkey, light ricotta and a lot of spinach for these, making them perfectly hearty for fall. Finish these with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe: Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Shells

2. Roasted Broccoli Soup with Peppers and Onions

 (Sydney Kramer, The Crepes of Wrath)

Homemade soup may be the quintessential dish for this season, and this roasted broccoli soup courtesy of The Crepes of Wrath will be sure to warm your bones in the upcoming months. The roasting of the vegetables in the soup adds a nice caramelized flavor, so be sure to cook each until they have a nice char. If you have leftovers (though you probably won't), fear not, it freezes extremely well.

Recipe: Roasted Broccoli Soup with Peppers and Onions

3. Bacon Brussel Sprouts Carbonara

 (Dan Whalen, The Food In My Beard)

Bacon and brussels sprouts can be seen as an undeniable pair. Combined with the rich and creamy flavor of a carbonara sauce, a perfect fall meal is born. The brains behind this dish, Dan Whalen of The Food In My Beard, recommends topping with parmesan or pecorino cheese, and not being shy with the black pepper at the end before serving.

Recipe: Bacon Brussel Sprouts Carbonara

4. Korean Chili Tofu Salad

 (Sydney Kramer, The Crepes of Wrath)

This sweet and spicy salad from The Crepes of Wrath can be served as a side dish or as a main course. The creamy inside of the tofu cuts through the spice of the Korean chili oil, and jalapeno peppers add an extra kick that will be sure to warm you right up. This can be served warm or cold.

Recipe: Korean Chili Tofu Salad with Kimchi Chips

5. Lamb Meatballs in Mushroom Sauce

 (Sharon Bishop, Paleo Fondue)

Meatballs just go with spaghetti.  In fact, they work perfectly well on their own as an appetizer, as seen with these lamb meatballs from Paleo Fondue. The creamy, buttery mushroom sauce is the perfect rich counterpart to the earthy lamb meat, making for a supremely flavorful and balanced dish.

Recipe: Lamb Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

6. Mini Quiches with Jerusalem Artichokes and Chives

 (Jodi Moreno, What's Cooking Good Looking)

Quiches are pretty multi-functional. They can be your appetizer at a dinner or cocktail party or a Sunday morning brunch. These mini quiches from What's Cooking Good Looking are perfect for a big crowd, and while this recipe makes about a dozen quiches, you can easily double the recipe for a bigger party.

Recipe: Mini Quiches with Jerusalem Artichokes and Chives

7. Bread & Butter Stuffing with Fresh Sage

 (David Rosengarten)

Nothing says that the fall holiday season is officially here like a side of robust stuffing.  This Bread and Butter Stuffing with Fresh Sage from David Rosengarten will be the perfect accompaniment to any roast meats you happen to prepare. Rosengarten chooses not to prepare this stuffing inside the bird, as many people tend to do, in order to make sure that the cooking time can be controlled properly. The amount of butter in the recipe may seem a bit over the top, but the end result is a rich stuffing that comes out buttery without being greasy, so you'll be glad you went for it.

Recipe: Bread & Butter Stuffing with Fresh Sage

8. Moroccan Pumpkin Soup

 (Sharon Bishop, Paleo Fondue)

Pumpkin soup is sort of a no-brainer for fall, but this Moroccan pumpkin soup from Paleo Fondue goes above and beyond the standard. Sharon uses cinnamon, ginger and tumeric, among other Moroccan spices, to make the flavors in this soup really come alive.

Recipe: Moroccan Pumpkin Soup

9. Potato Rosemary and Sausage Soup

 (Dan Whalen, The Food In My Beard)

This Potato, Rosemary and Sausage soup from The Food In My Beard certainly fits the bill. The sausage, beans and broccoli rabe make this soup extra hearty, and are a perfect addition to the fragrant potato rosemary broth. Be sure to serve this with several slices of fresh, crusty bread to sop up any extra broth.

Recipe: Potato, Rosemary and Sausage Soup

10. Pumpkin and Beet Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

 (Jodi Moreno, What's Cooking Good Looking)

A whole pumpkin doesn't have to be used just for carving your Halloween Jack-o-Lantern. Buy a small one, cut it into slices and roast with beets for this uniquely Fall-friendly dish from What's Cooking Good Looking. The carrot ginger dressing is perfect drizzled on top, giving an extra bit of sweetness to this savory salad.

Recipe: Pumpkin Beet Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

11. Pumpkin Dumplings

 (Jodi Moreno, What's Cooking Good Looking)

These pumpkin dumplings from What's Cooking Good Looking are the perfect appetizer to make for your next gathering. Not only are they incredibly simple to make, but since they're baked instead of fried, you can indulge in a few more without the inevitable guilt of eating during the holidays.

Recipe: Pumpkin Dumplings

12. Roasted Potato Salad with Arugula

 (Sydney Kramer, Crepes of Wrath)

Get creative by preparing this roasted potato salad with arugula from The Crepes of Wrath. This creamy side dish feels reminiscent of summer days with weekend barbecues, but it goes equally well with any hearty roasted meats that you'll be preparing for your next fall meal. 

Recipe: Roasted Potato Salad with Arugula

13. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions, Pine Nuts and Tahini

 (Jodi Moreno, What's Cooking Good Looking)

These roasted sweet potatoes with red onions, pine nuts and tahini from What's Cooking Good Looking are an easy dish that is sure to impress. Roasting the potatoes gives them a caramelized, almost nutty flavor that is cut delicately by the sweetness of the red onions and the creamy tahini sauce.

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions, Pine Nuts and Tahini

14. Burnt Carrot Salad

 (Jamie Sylves, Clara Mae James)

Carrots don't get enough recognition as the main ingredient in a salad, but this Burnt Carrot Salad from Clara Mae James gives it the attention it deserves. The charred flavor of the sweet carrots goes perfectly with the creamy avocado and pickled red onions, and the pumpkin seeds deliver a satisfying crunch that you'll want seconds and thirds of.

Recipe: Burnt Carrot Salad

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