Deliciously Simple Autumn Meals

Deliciously Simple Autumn Meals

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As the leaves fall from the trees and the sun sets earlier each evening, the crisp, cool days of autumn can feel especially rushed. Fortunately, the fall harvest brings us a number of great seasonal foods, from tart apples to savory squash.

Make the most of these excellent autumnal flavours with these simple, mouth-watering dinner dishes. Even on the coldest autumn days, these hearty meals will keep you warm and fill you up.

 

CHICKEN KIEV

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

 

Chicken Kiev is a quick, filling dish that's straight-forward and easy to prepare, making it perfect for those busy weeknight dinners. This recipe is especially simple, and requires only seven basic ingredients - chicken, butter, eggs, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, and breadcrumbs - making it a budget-friendly meal as well.

The best part about this Chicken Kiev recipe is its rich, buttery flavour. This melt-in-your-mouth chicken dish is sure to become a family favourite, even if you're catering to "picky eaters."

 

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

  • - 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
  • - 60 g salted butter
  • - 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • - 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • - 1 egg, beaten
  • - breadcrumbs
  • - plain flour

 

1.) Make a deep slit through each chicken breast, lengthwise.

2.) Mix the butter, crushed garlic, and parsley together. Stuff a quarter of the butter mixture into the slits of the chicken.

3.) Dip each chicken breast in beaten egg, then in flour, then in egg again. Finally, dip the breasts in the breadcrumbs.

4.) Place the chicken breasts on a baking tray and cook them for 40-50 minutes at 180°C. Check that the chicken is cooked through, and be sure that the juices run clear before serving.

 

PORK WITH DRIED APPLES & PROSCIUTTO

Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

This delicious recipe brings together the autumnal flavours of pork, prosciutto ham, and tart dried apples in a uniquely palatable meal. The flavours of apple cider and mustard give this dish a tangy and rich kick that's perfect for cold November days.

 

Ingredients

(Serves 2)

  • - 2 thin-cut boneless pork loin chops, trimmed of fat
  • - 1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • - 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • - 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • - 2 thin slices of prosciutto, chopped
  • - 250 ml apple cider
  • - 150 g chopped dried apples
  • - 120 ml chicken broth
  • - 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • - 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage, or 1/4 teaspoon rubbed dried sage
  • - 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • - 1 teaspoon cornstarch

 

1.) Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until it is browned on both sides (roughly 1-2 minutes per side). Transfer pork to a plate. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring constantly until browned (roughly 1 minute). Transfer prosciutto to a plate.

2.) Add the cider, dried apples, 60 ml broth, vinegar, and sage to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened (roughly 4-6 minutes).

3.) Stir together the mustard, cornstarch, and remaining 60 ml broth in a small bowl. Add this to the pan and bring it to a simmer, stirring constantly. Return the pork and prosciutto to the pan and simmer, turning the pork to coat, until heated through (roughly 1-2 minutes). Serve when complete.

 

YOGA POT

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

The "Yoga Pot" is a hearty, filling vegetarian dish that is sure to become a staple in your fall and winter diet. Filled with nutritious ingredients including zucchini, broccoli, ginger, garlic, butter beans, tomatoes, and lentils, this stew-like pot can easily be reheated for enjoyment throughout the week. Naturally meat-free and gluten-free, this warm, veggie-packed dish has a surprisingly layered flavour that will leave you longing for another bowl.

 

Ingredients

(Serves 4-6)

  • - 1tablespoon cold-pressed coconut oil, ghee, or olive oil
  • - 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • - 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • - 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • - 2 tablespoons fresh turmeric, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • - 800 ml canned plum tomatoes
  • - 125 ml uncooked red lentils, rinsed
  • - 500 ml water
  • - 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • - 1 broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • - 1 fennel, thinly sliced
  • - 1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • - 1 handful green beans
  • - 400 ml cooked butter beans

 

1.) Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add chopped onion and garlic. Lower the heat and cook for a few minutes until the onions have softened.

2.) Add the ginger, turmeric, and cayenne and stir, taking care to ensure that they do not burn.

3.) When the spices smell fragrant, add the tomatoes, lentils, water, and salt. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

4.) Stir in all the vegetables and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Add the cooked beans towards the end of the cooking time. Serve in bowls, with a dollop of yogurt and fresh coriander or cilantro garnish, if desired.

 

POMEGRANATE-GLAZED TURKEY WITH ROASTED FENNEL

Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

This distinctly appetizing turkey dish combines tangy pomegranate sauce with a spicy side-dish of chopped fennel. The pomegranate sauce is a unique alternative to the traditional cranberry topping that often accompanies autumnal turkey dishes. Both fennel and pomegranate are at their seasonal peak in late fall and early winter, making this dish especially fresh and relevant this time of year. This savory dish is a perfect half-hour alternative to a more traditional Thanksgiving-style dinner. Ready in approximately 30 minutes, this low-calorie, gluten-free meal is the tastiest way to enjoy turkey this holiday season.

 

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

  • - 4 medium fennel bulbs, cored and thickly sliced
  • - 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • - 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme and one thyme sprig
  • - 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • - 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • - 4 turkey cutlets, 1/4 inch thick (1 pound)
  • - 235 ml pomegranate juice
  • - 60 ml chicken broth, or water
  • - 1 teaspoon cornstarch

 

1.) Preheat your oven to 230°C

2.) Toss the fennel, 3 teaspoons oil, chopped thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring twice, until tender and golden (about 25 minutes).

3.) Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of the turkey with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook it until it is browned, 1-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

4.) Add the pomegranate juice and thyme sprig to the pan; bring to a boil. Boil, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced to 60 ml (roughly 6-10 minutes). Discard the thyme sprig. 

5.) Whisk together the broth (or water) and cornstarch; add to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 15 seconds).

6.) Reduce heat to medium and return the turkey and any accumulated juices to the pan, turning to coat with sauce. Cook for 1 minute. Serve the dish, topping the roasted fennel with turkey and sauce.

 

EGGPLANT PIZZA

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

 

This incredible recipe is a slight twist on a classic dish made famous by the great TV chef Julia Child. Low on the glycemic index and naturally low-carb and gluten-free, these eggplant pizzas maintain all the savory richness of traditional bread crust pizzas without the extra weight and calories.

Though the dish takes a few extra minutes to prepare, much of this recipe's prep work can be done while waiting for the sliced eggplant to dry out. Topped with a savory tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, this dish will make you question whether it's even necessary to order carry-out pizza in the future. Though the base recipe is vegetarian, ground beef or turkey sausage can also be added to this dish to give it an extra-filling, meatier flavour. Regardless of your topping choice, these eggplant pizzas are sure to be a winner all year round.

 

Ingredients

(Serves 3-4)

  • - 1 globe eggplant, about 8 oz.
  • - 1 tablespoon salt, for drawing water out of eggplant
  • - 2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing eggplant before roasting
  • - 2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, for sprinkling on eggplant before roasting
  • - 30 g freshly-grated Parmesan
  • - 40 g finely-grated low-fat mozzarella blend

 

Sauce Ingredients

  • - 2-3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • - 3 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped 
  • - 1 can (14.5 oz.) good quality petite diced tomatoes with liquid (or use 400 g peeled and diced fresh tomatoes)
  • - 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning blend
  • - 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

 

Instructions

Cut off both ends of the eggplant; then cut it into 3/4 inch thick slices (trying to make them the same thickness). Put the eggplant pieces on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt. Let the eggplant sit with the salt on it for about 30 minutes to draw out the liquid. (After the eggplant sits for 15 minutes, turn on the oven to 375°F/190°C.)

While the eggplant sits, make the sauce. Heat 2-3 tsp. olive oil (depending on your pan) and saute the finely chopped garlic just until it becomes fragrant. (Don't let it brown.) Add the petite diced tomatoes, dried Italian seasoning, and dried oregano and let the sauce cook at a low simmer until it's thickened, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork as it cooks. (Add water as needed, a few tablespoons at a time as the sauce cooks, keeping it hot by simmering at very low heat until it's needed for the eggplant slices.)

After 30 minutes, wipe the eggplant dry with paper towels (this also removes most of the salt.) Spray a roasting sheet with olive oil or non-stick spray, lay eggplant slices on, brush the tops of the eggplant with olive oil, and sprinkle with dried Italian seasoning. Roast the eggplant about 25 minutes (but not so long that the slices become mushy and lose their shape).

While the eggplant roasts, combine the freshly grated Parmesan and low-fat mozzarella blend. After 25 minutes or when eggplant pieces are done, remove eggplant from the oven and turn oven setting to broil. Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the top of each eggplant slice and top with a generous amount of cheese. Put pizzas under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly browned (roughly 6-7 minutes). Serve hot.

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

This excellent autumnal soup combines the creamy richness of butternut squash with the spiciness of jalapeño peppers and cumin. The end result is a bold, full-flavoured soup that's quick to make and easy to reheat. By using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, this recipe can easily be made vegetarian and vegan-friendly as well. If you're looking for a family-friendly dish with a slightly spicy kick, you'll love this butternut squash soup.

 

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

  • - 1 butternut squash (roughly 2 pounds)
  • - 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • - 150 g chopped onion
  • - 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • - 112 g thinly sliced carrot
  • - 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • - 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • - 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • - 1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeno pepper
  • - 500 ml chicken stock
  • - 50 ml heavy cream

 

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the squash and cut into 1" (2.5 cm) pieces. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then add the squash, jalapeno pepper, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and puree the soup using an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Return to heat, add the cream and adjust the seasonings. Serve.

 

Be sure to savor these many festive flavours this holiday season! Prepare one of these excellent autumn dishes this week.

 

Foto: © Gorilla / fotolia.de

Editor, 11/20/2014

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