Comforting Weeknight Dinners Our Editors Recommend
Image courtesy of Zo Healthy.
When the leaves start to fall and the weather turns cooler, we begin to crave warm and satisfying dishes. For inspiration on new dinners to put on the table, we invited our editors across the country to ask culinary experts in their areas for their favorite go-to, classic fall meals. Here, they share seven warming recipes—from a weeknight-perfect coq au vin to a crave-worthy risotto—that will chase away the chill and add a dose of comfort as the temperature starts to dip.
Sumac-Roasted Chicken with Fennel, Lemon, and Red Onion
“What makes this healthy roasted chicken so special is the combination of fall spices like sumac, coriander, and cinnamon, along with fennel and onion. Bringing all these flavors together is like a party in your mouth,” Audrey Zona, owner of Zo Healthy in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey says.
Yields 4 servings
For the roasted chicken
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (3½-pound) organic chicken, quartered
- 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
- 2 fennel bulbs, quartered and cored, cut into 1-inch wedges
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 large lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon (ground)
- 2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
- 1 teaspoon coriander (ground)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons pink salt
For the optional lemon-garlic yogurt
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and herbs to serve (optional)
In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients except for the salt and lemon, until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or up to overnight. If you don’t have time to marinate, leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 425ºF. Spread the chicken and vegetables in an even, single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Be sure the chicken pieces are skin-side up. Add lemon slices and sprinkle with salt. Roast until the chicken is golden and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, if making, prepare the lemon-garlic Yogurt. Stir together the ingredients and season to taste. Keep chilled until ready for use. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter. Sprinkle with the herbs and pomegranate seeds. Serve with the yogurt sauce.
Recipe courtesy of Audrey Zona of Zo Healthy. Zo Healthy is featured in The Scout Guide Bergen County. Christine Doherty and Eileen Sweeney are co-editors of The Scout Guide Bergen County.
“Corn has such a wonderful flavor but can easily be overpowered by other ingredients. By leaving out a dry white wine that tends to mask the corn, you get a true corn flavor with this risotto versus other recipes. We turn to this recipe this time of year because it still has the bright flavors of summer but is hearty enough to warm you up on these welcomed crisp evenings. It’s the perfect dish that transitions from summer to fall,” says Melissa Turpin, owner of Honeycomb Kitchen Shop in Rogers, Arkansas.
Yields 6 servings
- 4-6 ears corn, cut corn from the cobs (4 cups), reserve cobs
- 5 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 ½ cups sushi rice or Arborio rice
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup sour cream
- chopped chives for garnish
- ½ fresh lemon juice for finishing
After you’ve stripped your corn off the cobs, take the reserved corn cobs and stand them on one end. Scrape down the sides with the back of a butter knife. This will remove any remaining pulp on the cob. Transfer pulp to a blender and add 3 cups of corn kernels. Process on medium speed until a purée begins to form. Increase blender speed to high and add ½ cup hot water as the blender is running. Continue blending until the mixture thickens and becomes smooth, a total of about 3 minutes. Pour corn purée into a mesh strainer basket set over a 9 x 9 baking dish. Use a flexible silicone spatula to work the mixture through the strainer, extracting as much liquid as possible. You will need to yield around 2 cups of smooth corn. Discard any remaining solids. Melt butter in a dutch oven then add shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper. Continually stir while cooking until softened but not browned. Add rice and thyme sprigs and cook until grains are translucent around edges, approximately 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in 4 ½ cups hot water. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, until mixture has slightly thickened and rice is al dente, 15 – 17 minutes. Stir the rice a couple of times during cooking to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of your pan. Once rice is al dente, add in the corn liquid, stirring constantly until the risotto thickens and becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese and reserved cup of corn kernels. Remove pot from heat and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the risotto to fully thicken. Discard thyme sprigs. Add sour cream and chives with a splash of lemon juice (½ teaspoon). Season with salt and pepper to taste. If risotto has become too thick, add more hot water as needed, adding a small amount at a time. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Melissa Turpin of Honeycomb Kitchen Shop. Honeycomb Kitchen Shop is featured in The Scout Guide Northwest Arkansas. Rebekah Lawrence is editor of The Scout Guide Northwest Arkansas.
Coq Au Vin
“I love this recipe because it is decadent, truly comforting, and fairly simplified compared to some Coq au Vin recipes you can find,” shared Nicholas. “It’s a recipe everyone can pull off because of the bold flavors and the perfect addition to any fall table that transports me to my inner Julia Child,” says Sarah Nicholas, owner of Ladles and Linens Kitchen Shoppe in Richmond, Virginia.
Yields 4 servings
- 3 pounds skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 ½ teaspoon kosher salt (more if needed)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (more if needed)
- 3 cups bold and dry black red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 6 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced into ¼-inch lardons
- 8 shallots, peeled and diced
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 3 tablespoons butter, cubed
- ¼ cup chopped parsley, more for serving
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Combine chicken, wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours overnight. In a large dutch oven, cook bacon until the fat is rendered. Set aside allowing the excess fat to drain on a paper towel. Leave 2 tablespoons rendered fat in a dutch oven. Pat marinated chicken until dry with paper towels and keep the marinade, set aside. Heat the dutch oven with fat and add chicken in a single layer and cook until browned, 4 minutes per side. You may have to work in batches. Place chicken on a plate. Add shallots, carrots, and mushrooms to the dutch oven and season with salt and pepper. Sear vegetables until browned, but not burned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for one minute. Slowly stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds or so. Add brandy and deglaze the pan, breaking up the brown bits on the bottom. Cook for a few more minutes and then stir in the marinade. Add the chicken and bacon back in, nestling in with the vegetables. Cover and gently simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Uncover and simmer for 30 minutes to thicken. Season to taste. Add butter and stir in. Top with parsley.
Recipe courtesy of Sarah Nicholas of Ladles and Linens Kitchen Shoppe. Ladles and Linens Kitchen Shoppe is featured in The Scout Guide Richmond. Cheney Edmunds is the editor of The Scout Guide Richmond.
Image courtesy of Caramelized.
Roasted Dijon-Crusted Rack of Lamb
Yields 2-4 servings
“This rack of lamb’s enriching flavors introduces a cozy, earthy palate for the fall table. The presentation is so appealing, especially when paired with a root vegetable or starch, that the main course can serve as your standalone centerpiece,” says Cara Greenstein, owner of Caramelized in Memphis, Tennessee.
- 1 8-bone Frenched rack of lamb
- 2 tablespoons coarse Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Fresh rosemary, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the rack on a roasting pan. Brush fatty sides of the rack with Dijon mustard. Then, season with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Roast until internal temperature reads 130ºF (medium rare), about 25 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then cut into chops to serve and garnish.
Recipe courtesy of Cara Greenstein of Caramelized. Caramelized is featured in The Scout Guide Memphis and Oxford. Stephanie Stephens is editor of The Scout Guide Memphis and Oxford.
Lime Chicken Chili Soup
“This soup is nice and light because it’s broth-based, but still so filling with tons of veggies so it really does eat like a meal,” says Claudia Sheddy of My Sweet Roots in Forth Worth, Texas.
Yields 4-6 servings
- 4 organic or all-natural chicken breasts
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 small bundle of celery stalks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 poblano pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 2 liters organic, sodium-free chicken broth
- 1 cup corn
- 1 cup hominy
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, juices removed
- 2 limes
- Avocado slices, for garnish
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Heat oven to 425ºF. Season chicken breasts with salt and roast until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes. Remove, let cool, and then shred into pieces. Heat grapeseed oil in a stock pot and saute carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and pepper until vegetables are translucent. Add broth, shredded chicken, corn, hominy, and tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Squeeze juice from the limes into the soup and season with salt, as needed. Garnish with avocado slices and cilantro.
Recipe courtesy of Claudia Sheddy of My Sweet Roots. My Sweet Roots is featured in The Scout Guide Fort Worth. Leigh Brown is editor of The Scout Guide Fort Worth.
Chicken Apple Curry
“The aroma of every step in the cooking process of this curry is glorious. Melting butter, sizzling onions, and garlic welcome the chopped tart local apples. This sauté prepares the sauce for my selection of aromatic spices, lime, and chutney to finish. From farm, to kitchen, to table, this comforting dish is sure to become a family favorite,” says Sybille van Kempen, owner and cookbook author at Loaves and Fishes in Sagaponack, New York.
Yields 6 servings
For the chicken
- 1/4 cup clarified butter
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
For the sauce
- 2 ounces (1/2 stick) salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and finely chopped tart apples
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup mango chutney, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Heat the clarified butter in a large sauté pan and cook the chicken on both sides on medium heat until browned. Cover the pan and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until fully cooked. Transfer to a platter. Keep warm in the oven while sauce is prepared. To make the sauce, melt the butter in the sauté pan. Add the onion, and cook over low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and apples and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the flour and spices and stir until combined. Add chicken stock, lime zest and juice, and chutney. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. Add cooked chicken back into the sauce and pour into a serving dish.
Recipe courtesy of Sybille van Kempen of Loaves and Fishes. From the cookbook Loaves and Fishes Farm Series Cookbook: The Milk Pail & Halsey Orchards. Loaves and Fishes is featured in The Scout Guide Hamptons. Hannah Lasurdo is editor of The Scout Guide Hamptons.
Photography by Eric Kelley.
Coriander Carrot Ginger Soup
Yields 8-10 servings
“This soup is a perfect meal for a chilly fall evening. It exemplifies my favorite vegetable of the fall season—the carrot,” says Ian Rynecki, executive chef of Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup leek, sliced
- 2 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon cumin*, toasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander*, toasted and ground
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed*, toasted and ground (optional)
- 2 tablespoon harissa paste
- 5 pounds carrot,* peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 quarts vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- Drizzle of parsley oil or crème fraîche for garnish
*Pro-tip: Use baby heirloom carrots with a high brix level to improve the overall complexity and flavor of your soup. When purchasing baby bunched carrots, look for healthy green tops which should promptly be removed after purchase. While attached, the green tops will continue to pull moisture and nutrients out of the carrot. These tops can then be made into a quick pesto and used to garnish the soup.
Heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot. Add the leek, onion, garlic, and ginger. Allow vegetable mixture to cook for 5-10 minutes over medium heat until vegetables are softened. Add cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and harissa paste to the softened vegetables. Cook for two minutes before adding the carrots and vegetable stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until carrots are soft and tender. Transfer soup over to a blender (alternatively you can use an immersion blender) in 4 separate batches. While soup is blending, slowly drizzle in olive oil and sherry vinegar until a smooth texture is reached. Finish by straining soup through a coarse mesh strainer. Serve hot with a drizzle of parsley oil or crème fraîche.
Recipe courtesy of Ian Rynecki of Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards. Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards is featured in The Scout Guide Charlottesville. Christy Ford and Susie Matheson are co-editors of The Scout Guide Charlottesville.