When the kids are back in school and your weeknights are full of chores, quick and easy dinners are the only way to go. To make your meals complete, we've hand-picked fast and easy fall side dishes that celebrate the best seasonal produce. Keep these recipes and ideas handy for when your CSA drops off a truckload of autumn vegetables, and after-school activities eat into crucial dinner prep time.
10 Fast and Easy Fall Side Dishes
1. Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash | Ready in 35 minutes
Allrecipes user poshlynne cuts down cook time by using thinner slices of squash in this Parmesan-coated acorn squash side dish. Just keep an eye on your squash slices and poke with a fork to test: When they're nice and soft, pull them out of the oven. Muriel Puce assures her fellow home cooks that "You can eat these slices skin and all. Once you scrape out the seeds, you eat everything that goes into the oven."
2. Roasted Sweets | Ready in 30 minutes
Peeled and cubed sweet potatoes are tossed with onions, apples (or pears), garlic, cinnamon, and ground chipotle for a mildly spicy side dish. You could also toss in a handful of walnuts and fresh sage, if you wish. Allrecipes home cook thumper5316 says, "This is an absolutely delicious combination of flavors. Both my husband and I loved it. I will definitely be adding this to my dinner rotation list."
Tip: To slash prep time, go ahead and use bagged sweet potato cubes. Otherwise, it really doesn't take much time to do it yourself.
3. Mediterranean Kale | Ready in 25 minutes
If your life insurance agent sees you out at the farmer's market buying kale, it may qualify you for a lower rate. (OK, maybe not, but this certainly is a fast and healthy side dish you can throw together with a few simple ingredients.)
"The kale tasted perfect after steaming for 7 minutes. A tasty, healthy side dish when short on time," writes Allrecipes home cook flamingo1012.
4. Parmesan Brussels Sprouts | Ready in 25 minutes
After the first frost hits, the Brussels are prime, as they get sweeter after the first cold snap. Take advantage of it with this fast fall side dish that's on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Prefer your Brussels slightly on the crispy side? Allrecipes home cook Toronto Worm Company adds a crunchy texture by plucking a few leaves: "While washing the Brussels sprouts you can take off some of the leaves, which adds a great crunch to the dish. I usually take 2-3 off each Brussel. Add during the cooking process."
5. Roasted Delicata Squash | Ready in 27 minutes
Delicata is another winter squash you can eat peels and all. And did you know you can roast the seeds just like you would with pumpkin seeds? That's two ways to eat one squash! Home cook shawnr raves, "This is an incredible, and incredibly simple, recipe. I made this for family dinner and everyone loved it, from the toddlers to the seniors."
6. Simple Roasted Butternut Squash | Ready in 40 minutes
SPOILER ALERT: The basic gist of this recipe is, "toss butternut squash in olive oil and garlic." Besides turning on the oven, that's really about all you have to do.
The hardest part of this recipe is probably peeling the squash (and we won't tell if you decide to use pre-prepped squash from the grocery store), but Allrecipes user jaydeu has you covered with this tip: "Before peeling, wash and poke holes in the squash, then put it in the microwave for 3 minutes. After it cools down a bit, you can easily cut and peel it." Get more tips about prepping and cooking butternut squash.
7. Zucchini Tots | Ready in 25 minutes
Fun fact: Zucchini disguised as tots plays better than zucchini disguised as spaghetti for 9 out of 10 picky eaters. #checkmymath
As recipe originator deliciouslystylish points out, this recipe comes together in under a half hour, and you can make cleanup super quick and easy by using mini muffin cup liners, says home cook marleyhank.
8. Spiced Pears and Pomegranate | Ready in 10 minutes
When the nights get cooler, this easy dessert offers a fresh new presentation for a familiar fall flavor mix.
If you're new to preparing pomegranate, take a tip from Allrecipes user Richard Beard, who says: "Pom seeds are easily separated under water. The little gems float and all else sinks. Just scoop off the surface with a slotted spoon." Or, try this quick and easy way to seed a pomegranate.
9. Chef John's Syracuse Salt Potatoes | Ready in 25 minutes
"Not only is this Syracuse salt potatoes recipe one of the most delicious ways to cook baby spuds, it's also one of the most interesting," says Chef John. I generally don't like when people watch me cook their food, you know, in case anything gets dropped (#5secondrule), but these are kind of fun to do in front of guests; just to see that look of shock in their eyes, as you dump in all that salt."
Sherri Nicol calms your fears about all that salt, saying, "This was the easiest way to get creamy, delicious baby Yukon Gold potatoes. It's amazing, but the salt does not permeate the potatoes, just makes them really tasty."
10. Easy Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Ketchup | Ready in 35 minutes
Peel and slice the sweet potatoes while your oven heats up, then you just toss the wedges with oil, salt, and paprika before popping them into the hot oven. While they're roasting, you'll take a minute to mix up ketchup and curry powder. So easy! Allrecipes home cook Paula says, "The star of this recipe is the ketchup. I never eat ketchup with my sweet potatoes...until now! This ketchup concoction is fabulous!"