Look, I can’t promise you that I took the end of August gracefully. And I certainly can’t comment on whether or not I closed out Labor Day with a desperate plea for summer to stay with us that would’ve put Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire to shame. (“Summer! Hey, summmmmer!!!!”)
But all of that feels like a distant memory as we march steadfastly into September. And while we technically have until the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22 to complete the transition to a new season, we’re embracing it early around these parts. Because sweater-weather. And apple picking. And everything pumpkin—from pies to pastas to seasonal beverages (go ahead, order that PSL, we’ll wait here).
These are the top 11 reasons we can’t wait to get into the kitchen this fall.
1. The cheesiest, most savory, pumpkin-y baked pasta of our dreams.
This baked pasta takes pumpkin and does the best possible thing to it: adds five types of cheese. It’s crispy up top, unbelievably creamy below, and studded with little bits of pancetta. Summer, who?
2. The sausage and apple pie of our eye.
In this hearty autumn pie, savory pork sausage meets tart apples and sharp Cheddar cheese. Spoiler alert: They all get along swimmingly.
3. Reason #1005 to go apple picking.
Meet the fall dessert that does the unthinkable: improves upon a classic apple galette. It had us at “a layer of tahini frangipane,” but we’re glad we stuck around for the warm, flaky pie crust and thinly sliced baked apples.
4. You didn’t think we’d leave you with leftover apples, did you?
These “dumplings” are essentially personal pies with a spiced and baked apple at the center of each. Erin McDowell likes to serve them with homemade cider caramel—you won’t be sorry if you follow suit.
5. Time to break out the squash, then smother it with pesto.
This vegetarian side takes the classic butternut squash/sage combination and turns it up a notch (or five!) with sage, hazelnut, and ricotta salata pesto. It’s just as delicious—and much quicker to make—with cubed squash.
6. A different type of pumpkin carving.
This cheese fondue-stuffed roasted pumpkin is a mouthful to describe, but you won’t want to waste time speaking anyway when there’s one in your vicinity. It’s equally great as a showstopper app to serve at a party, or as a dinner entree spooned over wilted greens or spread onto toast.
7. Brownies that epitomize autumn.
Just when you thought brownies couldn’t get better, we added pumpkin. They’re dense and rich with a beautifully crackly crust, and a dash of espresso powder that lets the chocolate really sing.
8. The mushrooms on toast our Senior Editor awaits year-round.
“In the fall I eat exorbitant amounts of mushrooms,” says our Senior Editor Eric Kim. “Can’t get enough of them—especially oyster mushrooms pan-fried on high heat, a little butter (but don’t burn it! brown-butter it!), and coarse sea salt on toast. They taste like meat cooked this way.”
9. A simple fall dessert that tastes anything but.
These roasted pears come together with minimal active time—if you can peel and slice fruit, you’re in—but they taste anything but simple thanks to the fall flavor packed by each ingredient, from apple cider to maple syrup to cardamom.
10. A punchbowl full of New England fall.
If we can’t actually be sitting beside a roaring Vermont fire, wrapped in a flannel blanket, surrounded by pine-scented air, we’d at least like someone to make us a Vermonter ASAP. The original recipe’s non-alcoholic, but we won’t tell anyone if you spike it with bourbon.
11. A cocktail that has just the right amount of sweetness and spice.
This rye punch calls in two types of cider, and we’re not mad about it. Don’t be intimidated by the maple bitters—you can swap in regular bitters, if that’s what you have on hand.
What are you most excited to make this fall? Let us know in the comments.