Simple Ideas for Autumn Meals

Simple Autumn Dinner

It’s easier than you might think to throw together an elegant, delicious meal without any complicated recipes. I’m even tempted to call this a recipe-less meal, because there are so few ingredients–ingredients you don’t even have to measure. These recipes are safe for “eyeballing” and throwing a little bit of this or that into the mix, even if you’re not the type of person who normally feels comfortable doing that.

This is my favorite type of cooking. Simple, fresh ingredients put together with a minimum of fuss, with results that would please anyone who enjoys their veggies.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Thyme
Squash, Pre-roast

Roasted squash is nearly impossible to mess up. Your only danger, I think, is undercooking it. Any winter squash will work, but I love delicata squash because they’re pretty, delicious, and not a total pain to cut open.

Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each piece in half again. Drizzle the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and sugar. Top with cracked pepper and fresh thyme sprigs. Bake at 425º for 30 minutes. These will hold well in a warm oven if they finish before you are ready to serve them. If they look dry, you can “refresh” them with a little drizzle of olive oil. Plate them with the roasted thyme sprigs and it’ll look fancy!

Lemon Pepper Broccolini
Lemon Pepper Broccolini

Broccolini is like baby broccoli. It’s sweet and best eaten lightly cooked. It’s a little more elegant than regular broccoli, but regular broccoli will also work here. An alternative but simiar preparation for sauteed balsamic broccolini can be found here.

Starting the BroccoliniIn a pan, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil with a pinch of sea salt. Add about 1/2 tsp or so of red pepper flakes and a bit of black pepper. (You can click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Place the pan over medium heat and add the broccolini once it’s hot. Use tongs to coat the broccolini in the oil and spices. If your broccolini has slender, tender stems, you can cook it fully this way. If the stems are a little thicker (like these are), you can add a couple tablespoons of water and cover the pan with a lid. This will quick-steam the veggies, but the water will evaporate off so you won’t have to drain them.

Once the broccolini is bright green and tender crisp, squeeze some lemon juice over the stalks and serve.

I also served some simple mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce that I prepared the other day. I think the key to a meal like this is making sure you actually like the vegetables you’re serving, since they’re not going to be smothered and overpowered by some sauce.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Thyme


  1. Maggie

    Through reading blogs lie yours, I’ve come around to this kind of cooking lately. I try not to depend on recipes, just on being inspired by what is fresh and seasonal. These both look like lovely preparations I’ll be trying out!

  2. Cath

    I never tried squash, I don’t seem to find it here on Portugal but it looks delicious =) I might even try lemon broccolini (or regular broccoli) ’cause looks great

  3. Carolann

    You’re presentation is so beautiful! You’re reminding us that simple things can also be very elegant at the same time! I’m going to have to try your meal this weekend!!!

  4. daphne

    i was going to make some kind of layered casserole for tomorrow’s thanks giving dinner, but with all this positive talk about delicata i decided to make them stuffed instead!

  5. Emmie

    Sounds like a fab way of enjoying a meal of lovely autumn produce. I love autumn food, but autumn itself is a pain. I guess you can’t have everything!

  6. Kimberlee

    Beautiful pictures, again, but did I need to tell you that? You have managed to get me excited about fall and it’s produce.

  7. vanessa

    I second Maggie – “being inspired by what is fresh and seasonal” makes the best meal! Thanks for posting this to show everyone that simple can be just as elegant as a fancy-pantcy recipe.

  8. DJ

    How lovely! Squash and broccoli are two of my favorites. I am always looking for different ways to prepare them. I enjoy your blog and recipes. Thank you.

  9. Pingback: This Week In Review… | Healthy Dinner Recipes

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