Well, it’s officially decorative gourd season, motherfuckers fall, friends.
Typing that feels like a lie given that I’m currently wearing a tank top and sitting in front of my AC unit, but it’s the truth. Despite the unseasonably sweaty weather, the markets have been flooded with butternut squash, apples, and Brussels sprouts, and the air in NYC smells faintly of pumpkin spice, so we may as well take advantage.
I love fall for so many reasons, but mostly because it feels like a fresh start. While I may not be in school anymore (dammit!), I’ll probably always view September as the start of a “new year,” and I kind of like it that way. This anxiety-prone blog lady thrives on routine, and as much as I dig the summer’s rosé colored vibes, I very much appreciate the autumnal return to “real life.” And for me, real life includes a regular cooking routine.
With that said, “back-to-school” also seems to be the busiest time of year, and spending hours slaving over a hot stove at night when one could be rewatching Lost, relaxing in cozy sweaters, and/or sipping red wine with friends feels crazy. When it comes to this season’s weeknight dinners, quick and easy is the name of the game, which is why I’ve taken the liberty of rounding up some of my favorite simple fall meals below. (We’re on the same page about all this fall stuff, right??) From hearty stews to superfood stir-fry, there’s a little something for everyone on this list, and I hope it inspires you to get back into your cooking groove…
12 Easy Fall Weeknight Dinners:
1. Cauliflower Fried Rice with Shrimp. If you’re a cauliflower “rice” skeptic (still?!), this veggie-heavy recipe may just change your tune. It’s heavy on flavor but light on calories and prep time, which makes it one of those unicorn recipes that you’ll want to keep in the regular weeknight rotation. (If you use pre-riced cauliflower, you can get this on the table in roughly 25 minutes…)
2. 30-Minute Vegan Chana Masala. I love this warmly spiced chickpea stew as a quick and dirty #MeatlessMonday option. It’s great over brown rice or quinoa, but feel free to get some zucchini noodles/cauliflower rice involved, or serve it with some warm naan or pita for dipping.
3. Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Noodle Bowls. This festive bowl is for all my peeps who love a creative veggie noodle. No spiralizer? No problem. You can always sub roasted butternut squash cubes for the noodles. (Not quite as as fun, but whateva…)
4. Smoky Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Kale. THIS IS MY FAVORITE FALL RECIPE OF ALL TIME. MY ROOMMATE HAS AN EXCITEMENT FREAKOUT EVERY TIME WE HAVE IT. IT MAKES YOUR KITCHEN SMELL LIKE AN AUTUMNAL WONDERLAND. AND IT’S 100% IDIOTPROOF!!! Sorry for yelling, but I needed to get your attention. This recipe also freezes like a dream, so make a double batch and keep the leftovers in the freezer for future feasts.
5. Superfood Stir-Fry. Stir-Fry was made for busy weeknights, and this one is no exception. It comes together pretty quickly—especially if you keep pre-cooked grains and/or chicken on hand—and it leaves you feeling full and fabulous. (I kind of want to trademark #fullandfabulous?)
6. Roasted Broccoli, Chicken and Cheddar Quinoa Bake. Ahhhh, yes. The quinoa bake that started it all! This uber comforting casserole requires a little more planning than the other recipes on this list (it needs 25 minutes in the oven), but it’s well worth the wait. If you’ve yet to hop aboard the quinoa bake bandwagon, I beg you to take this baby for a spin. p.s. Leftovers make a killer #sassydesklunch.
7. Spicy Asian Salmon Salad. If you, like your weird blog lady, enjoy eating things that make you smarter and prettier, this flavor-packed salad is right up your alley. It’s loaded with omega-3s to sharpen that big, beautiful brain of yours, plus antioxidants and Vitamin C to make you extra glow-y.
8. Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Feta. The combo of chicken, cheese, and a few basic pantry ingredients delivers a flavor-packed skillet that’s so much more than just the sum of its parts. Serve it with some couscous or quinoa and extra greens, and you’re good to go.
9. Egg Roll Bowls. These bowls taste like the inside of an egg roll but don’t contain any mystery meat or MSG, so they won’t leave you resembling the Goodyear Blimp the next morning. HALLELUJAH.
10. One-Skillet Braised Chicken Thighs with Spinach and White Beans. This deceptively simple dish feels fancy but only requires about 10 minutes of hands on time. Keep it in mind for impromptu dinner parties as well. Served with a bottle of wine and some crusty bread, it makes quite the rustic fall feast.
11. Chinese Chicken Salad Burgers. So much flavor and texture in these Asian-inspired bad boys! Yes, you can definitely serve your burgers on buns, but I like to keep things light and lettuce wrap them, or serve the patties over chopped romaine for more of a true “salad” vibe.
12. 5-Ingredient Skillet Eggs with Spinach and Roasted Cauliflower. I have been, and always will be, a big fan of “Brinner” (aka breakfast for dinner), and this skillet is my go-to. You may recognize it as the star of my many forays into #yolkporn on Instagram…