The leaves are changing color and the weather is getting cooler (although I still refuse to turn the thermostat back on just yet). Autumn is definitely here. I always hate to say good bye to summer, where there is more daylight to savor, there’s more time spent outdoors and I can enjoy all the fresh vegetables from the garden.
But fall does have its benefits. Hikes in our local parks get more colorful and the fog makes things look just a little more mystical. It also means some of my favorite comfort foods make a comeback to my household.
If you love some good fall comfort foods but want to increase the veggie content, here are some ideas for you.
Idea #1: Shepherd’s Pie
The American version of this English recipe usually includes ground beef, but you can make a veggie version by using chopped sautéed mushrooms, instead of meat. Oh and be sure to double up on the vegetables that you add to the mushroom mixture.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
6 large russet potatoes peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh thyme and rosemary (1 tsp each dried if you don’t have fresh)
1 cup frozen corn and/or peas
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
Peel, chop and boil the potatoes until cooked, about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrot and garlic, sautéing for about 5-7 minutes or until softened. Next, add the frozen vegetables, 1 ½ cups of stock (saving ½ cup for later), soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme and pepper to taste. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced.
Preheat oven to 375 F
In a small mixing bowl, combine the ½ cup of remaining stock, ¼ cup flour and beat until well combined. Add the stock mixture to pan with vegetables and stir it constantly until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat once thickened.
At this point, your potatoes should be ready, so drain the water, but keep them in the pot. Add the sour cream, milk and sour cream and mash until smooth.
Place the vegetable mixture along the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish and flatten it with a spatula. Top with the mashed potatoes and smooth it out as well. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Let stand for 5-10 minutes and serve.
Idea #2: Squash, Squash and More Squash
It’s definitely the season for a wide variety of squash. Everyone has their favorite and there is always a new one to try. Whether you chop it in half and bake with honey or peel and dice it before you bake it, it can provide that warm comfort we crave in the colder months.
Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Walnuts Recipe
This recipe could be made with a variety of types of squash. Just slice in half and follow the instructions.
1 acorn squash
3-5 tablespoons brown sugar
3-5 tablespoons chopped walnuts
A drizzle or 2 of honey
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut the squash in half and place them each on a piece of foil . Add the sugar and walnuts and then drizzle with honey. Wrap the halves up in the foil and place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven.
Bake for about 45-60 minutes, or until soft. Remove foil and cook for another 30 minutes, allowing the walnuts to roast in the sugar and honey.
Let it cool slightly and either dip a spoon in and enjoy or scoop out the content and serve.
Idea #3: Pot Pies
Who needs meat when a vegetable-loaded pot pie provides just as much satisfaction? Many pot pie recipes can be adapted to eliminate the meat and bump up the veggie content. I’d even dare your family to notice the difference if you don’t say anything.
Veggie Pot Pie Recipe
With this recipe, you’ll create individual pot pies in ramekins, so there is no crust to cut. You can even freeze them before you bake them if you want to save some for later.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped stalk celery
1 chopped onion
2 cups vegetable stock
1 large diced potato
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen corn
3/4 sheet puff pastry crust (you can use phyllo brushed with olive oil for an even lighter version)
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery and onion and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Add the vegetable stock and potato, bringing it to a simmer until potato softens, which will take about 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350 F
Next, in a small bowl, whisk the flour and milk together until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the pan with vegetables and stir until thickened. Add the frozen peas, stir and remove from heat.
Now it’s time to work on your crust. Take the ramekins you’ll be baking with to cut out your crust, so it’s just the right size. Fill each ramekin with the vegetable mixture and then top each one with a pie crust.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes or when the crust is golden.
Whatever your favorite comfort food is, there are always ways to add more vitamins through loading it up with vegetables. Even homemade macaroni and cheese can get a nutrient boost through the addition of cooked chopped carrots, corn or even cauliflower.
Guest Post by Alice Seba:
With 3 kids and a husband all with varying tastes, Alice Seba knows it can be a challenge to keep everyone well fed, but it’s a challenge she enjoy tackling head on. She loves to share great food and also love helping people at better, waste less food and SAVE a ton of money doing it. Make sure to grab here free guide here.