6 super simple weeknight dinners for fall

KELLY MCCARTHY
·14 min read

With fall in full swing and people still staying home, it's the perfect time to cozy up with some easy, seasonal recipes that the whole family will love.

From pressure cooking in an Instant Pot to slow roasting in an oven, fall is a time to let the tools do the work with ingredients that can stand up to an easy cooking method and come together quickly.

Apples, squash, onions and other root vegetables are a perfect addition to easy fall-inspired recipes, with or without a protein such as sausage or poultry, that are quick to cook stand up to slow braising.

These selections are easy to recreate in your kitchen and full of flavor to satisfy an array of palates any night of the week.

Even if the whole family just consists of one or two people, you can adjust the recipes in half or freeze a portion of the prepared dish before cooking to save it for a ready-to-go meal another night when you don't feel like starting from scratch.

Double-the-Vegetables Pot Roast

PHOTO: Sarah Copeland's double-the-vegetables pot roast from her cookbook, 'Instant Family Meals.' (Christopher Testani)
PHOTO: Sarah Copeland's double-the-vegetables pot roast from her cookbook, 'Instant Family Meals.' (Christopher Testani)

Sarah Copeland, a mom of two and author of the forthcoming cookbook "Instant Family Meals," shared a simple family recipe with "Good Morning America" that utilizes the speed and efficiency of a multi-cooker to feed the family homemade and wholesome food in less time with less effort.

After just 20 minutes of prep, this spoon-tender stew serves four to six and comes together in the pressure cooker in under an hour so you can set it and forget it. Plus, it's gluten free!

"Feel free to load this up with all the veggies you love, and when it’s cooked, sop up the juices with buttered bread," Copeland suggests. "And don’t skimp on the flaky salt and tons of fresh herbs at the finish."

Ingredients

1 (2½- to 3-pound) boneless beef chuck roast or brisket, trimmed of excess fat

1¼ teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon harissa paste or tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour

½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

5 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups beef or chicken broth

6 baby potatoes (white or red), halved

4 whole canned San Marzano tomatoes, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (optional)

For Serving

1 packed cup fresh mint leaves, dill leaves, or a combination, roughly chopped

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Season the roast on all sides with 1 teaspoon of the salt and some pepper, and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the olive oil into the inner pot of the pressure cooker and set it to Saute. When the oil is hot, add the roast and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion and celery to the inner pot, and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, harissa and bay leaf, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Sprinkle the flour over all and stir briskly for 30 seconds to coat. Add the wine and stir, about 1 minute.

Return the roast to the inner pot and add the carrots, broth and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Lock on the lid and Pressure Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Release the pressure manually.

Open the lid, and add the potatoes and tomatoes to the inner pot. Lock on the lid again and pressure cook for 4 minutes on high pressure. Release the pressure manually and open the lid. The potatoes and beef should be tender but hold their shape.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed and a splash of vinegar, if desired. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes (to keep the roast juicy).

Meanwhile, cook the juices (with the vegetables) in the inner pot on the saute setting until they thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Leave on the Keep Warm setting until ready to serve.

Thinly slice the roast across the grain. Serve warm, with a generous quantity of vegetables, pouring the juices over the top. Top generously with the fresh herbs and sprinkle each portion with some flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Reprinted with permission from Instant Family Meals by Sarah Copeland, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Christopher Testani. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Sausage, Apple and Squash Sheet-Pan Supper with Fragrant Herb Oil

PHOTO: Sausage and fall vegetable sheet-pan supper. (Adam DeTour via Yankee Magazine)
PHOTO: Sausage and fall vegetable sheet-pan supper. (Adam DeTour via Yankee Magazine)

Amy Traverso, a senior food editor for Yankee magazine and co-host of "Weekends with Yankee," shared her simple one-sheet tray dinner that's full of fall flavors and the perfect answer to every busy person's struggle to get an easy, home-cooked dinner on the table with ease.

"It’s a one-pan wonder with very limited prep work and plenty of walk-away time," Traverso said. "In this dish, apples and squash provide sweetness, cranberries serve up some acidity, herbs and sausages are richly savory. It’s fall on a plate."

Ingredients¹⁄3 cup olive oil

1–2 sprigs each fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary

2 medium (1½ pounds total) unpeeled honey nut squash (or equivalent amount of peeled butternut squash)

1 large red onion, cut into ½-inch-thick wedges

1 large firm-tart apple, such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges

½ cup fresh cranberries

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 fresh (uncooked) sweet or hot Italian sausages (about 1½ pounds total)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and set a rack to the middle position. Combine the oil and herbs in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the herbs have wilted and the oil is very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove herbs from oil and set aside.

Halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, then cut crosswise into half-inch-thick half-moons. In a large bowl, combine the squash with the onion, apple, cranberries and the herbs from the oil. Pour the oil, to taste, over the vegetables (you can use any leftover oil in a vinaigrette or drizzled over potatoes). Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Gently stir everything together with a spatula, then turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Prick the sausages several times with a sharp knife, then lay them over the vegetables. Roast, turning the sausages and stirring the vegetables halfway through, until the squash is tender and the sausages are browned and sizzling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Kale and Black-Eyed Peas

PHOTO: Crispy chicken thighs with kale and black-eyed peas from Lindsay Maitland Hunt's cookbook, 'Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People who Love Delicious Food.' (Linda Pugliese)
PHOTO: Crispy chicken thighs with kale and black-eyed peas from Lindsay Maitland Hunt's cookbook, 'Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People who Love Delicious Food.' (Linda Pugliese)

Lindsay Hunt, author of "Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People who Love Delicious Food," shared two healthy and family-friendly recipes that are great for weekdays.

"With every recipe in 'Help Yourself,' I was keeping in mind two tenants -- whole plant foods (think: black beans or chicken thighs or kale) and variety -- both of which correlate with both a healthy gut and overall health," she told "Good Morning America." "These two recipes show that you can get dinner on the table quickly while also treating your community of health-promoting microbes right."

Ingredients8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (2 pounds total)

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon celery salt

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 slices no-sugar-added bacon

8 cups torn curly or lacinato kale leaves (from 2 large bunches)

3 cups cooked black-eyed peas or 2 (15.5-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed

2 cups high-quality store-bought broth

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the top position.

Put the chicken thighs on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix the onion powder, paprika, celery salt, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs.

Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the largest thigh registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. The skin should be golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, place the bacon strips in your largest skillet (ideally nonstick). Cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until crispy, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Use tongs to pull the strips out and set them aside on a cutting board. Leave the fat in the pan.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the kale leaves, tossing them in the fat to coat. Add the black-eyed peas, broth, remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring a couple of times, until the kale is tender and the beans are hot, 4 to 6 minutes.

Chop the cooked bacon into pieces and stir it into the kale. Stir in the lemon juice. Cover and keep warm until the chicken is ready.

Divide the kale among shallow bowls (to catch any broth), set the chicken thighs on top, sprinkle with the chives and serve with lemon wedges alongside.

Brown Rice Burrito Bowls with Spicy Black Beans and Onions

PHOTO: Brown rice and vegetable burrito bowls from Lindsay Maitland Hunt's second cookbook, 'Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People who Love Delicious Food.' (Linda Pugliese)
PHOTO: Brown rice and vegetable burrito bowls from Lindsay Maitland Hunt's second cookbook, 'Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People who Love Delicious Food.' (Linda Pugliese)

Hunt's burrito bowls serve four people and cook in under 20 minutes, plus she proves you can make a delicious burrito bowl without meat and cheese!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons preferred cooking oil

2 large onions, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or 1 (15.5-ounce) can, drained and rinsed

1 cup high-quality store-bought broth

4 cups cooked short-grain brown rice

For Serving

2 ripe avocados, sliced

Plain kefir (optional; omit if eating plant-based)

Torn fresh cilantro leaves

Hot sauce

Lime wedges

Flaky sea salt (optional)

Directions

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown and soft, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring continuously, until it starts to caramelize and is dry, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the beans, broth and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the beans are hot and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes more.

Divide the rice among serving bowls, then top with the beans and avocado.

Drizzle with a little kefir (if you want) and sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Serve with hot sauce and lime wedges alongside. I always finish with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt and a few grinds fresh pepper, but that’s up to you.

Pro Tip: For an extra decadent upgrade, swap in guac for the sliced avocado.

Excerpted from HELP YOURSELF © 2020 by Lindsay Maitland Hunt. Photography © 2020 by Linda Pugliese. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Shrimp Scampi with Lemony Breadcrumbs & Angel Hair Pasta

PHOTO: Andrew Zimmern's simple shrimp scampi pasta with fresh herbs and breadcrumbs is a fresh and fast meal to whip up any night of the week. (Stephanie Meyer)
PHOTO: Andrew Zimmern's simple shrimp scampi pasta with fresh herbs and breadcrumbs is a fresh and fast meal to whip up any night of the week. (Stephanie Meyer)

This bright Italian-American classic is a quick-cooking favorite from chef Andrew Zimmern. The chef, TV host and author shared the dish with "Good Morning America," and said he adds a healthy dose of crunchy seasoned bread crumbs to help bring it all together with the perfect textural contrast.

Ingredients1 pound angel hair pasta

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup sliced shallots

2 pounds U-15 shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/3 cup minced fresh herbs: tarragon, parsley, savory, chives

1/4 cup Pernod

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper

For the breadcrumbs

1/4 pound day-old Italian bread, torn into chunks

1/4 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 small garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the bread with the parsley, olive oil, zest and garlic until coarse crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper, then spread on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until golden and crisp; let cool.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente (approximately 8 to 10 minutes, check for doneness). Drain the pasta. Reserve.

Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When aromatic and rippling, add the garlic and shallots, and sauté until beginning to caramelize.

Push the shallot mix to the sides, raise heat to high and add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp have barely turned pink and just started to curl up, a few minutes at most.

Add the herbs, toss and cook for a moment. Add the Pernod and cook until almost evaporated, then add the lemon juice. Swirl and add the butter. Swirl the pan until sauce has come together. Add the reserved pasta to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve, garnishing with the breadcrumbs.

Reprinted with permission of Andrew Zimmern.

Chicken Adobo

Chef, restaurateur and mom Leah Cohen harnessed Southeast Asian flavors of her heritage with learned techniques from her annual trips abroad to create a perfect, cozy one-pot dish that's perfect to warm up on a cold fall weeknight at home.

This recipe that serves six people, reprinted from her debut cookbook, "Lemongrass and Lime: Southeast Asian Cooking at Home," highlights staple ingredients that Cohen said many Filipinos have on hand -- soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, garlic and bay leaves.

"I add in a few more ingredients to really amplify the flavor. While working in other kitchens over the years, this has always been my go-to staff meal," she said. "It is easy to make, and while it braises away in the oven, I can get my prep done."

Ingredients

1/4 cup canola oil

6 chicken thighs

6 chicken drumsticks

1 large Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, smashed

1 cup Kikkoman light soy sauce

1/2 cup Chaokoh coconut milk

1/2 cup coconut vinegar (can substitute apple cider vinegar)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaf powder

Steamed jasmine rice

2 tablespoons crispy Garlic

2 scallions (green and pale green part), thinly sliced

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the chicken thighs and cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a large plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat until the oil shimmers. Add the chicken legs and cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to the plate with the thighs.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until soft.

Add the garlic, soy sauce, coconut milk, vinegar, 1 cup of water, the sugar, pepper and bay leaf powder and stir until combined.

Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 1 hour, until the chicken is tender. If the liquid reduces too quickly or becomes too salty, add a bit of water.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice and garnished with crispy garlic and the scallions.

6 super simple weeknight dinners for fall originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com