Hot Fall Vegetables

Ripe figs have many uses.

Wondering what veggies you should be cooking up for fall? Here are a few of the hottest fall vegetables that have chefs across the nation all a’ flutter.


It’s easy to go sweet or savory with figs. Prepare these sweet, rich seductresses of nature anyway you like: roasted, broiled, grilled, ripe off the tree or marinated in a little honey, Dijon and balsamic, you can’t go wrong! Trendy preparations include figs wrapped in bacon, stuffed with bleu cheese, atop crostini and my latest fave, fried with honey.

Try them on top of a hamburger, sliced thin and add a few leaves of arugula for a punchy, sweet/sour bite that’s sure to rouse those taste buds. The sweet, distinctive flavor of figs pairs well with anything salty and acidic like various cured meats, sardines and even anchovies.

Try making an easy, rustic Taleggio Mission Fig Tartine for dessert or teatime.


This aromatic and crunchy vegetable has been a long standing staple in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines for hundreds of years. In the U.S. it’s gaining popularity but is still largely misunderstood as anise, the stuff that gives black licorice it’s distinctive flavor. Unlike anise, fennel has a milder, greener appeal. It’s naturally refreshing, slightly acidic and aromatic properties make it a great addition to nearly anything with pork, mussels, oranges or garlic. Shave it over oranges, add to herbed garlicky chicken, throw it in that stew or turkey meat sauce. Fennel is also very refreshing in chopped salads. Stuffing, breads and baked goods, both sweet and savory, are great places to experiment with this clean tasting bulbous vegetable.

Want to get cheesy with it? Slice a bulb in half, top with parmesan and bake it in the oven.

Really want to convert the masses to fennel? Then caramelize it. Olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper and lemon are all you need. Caramelize chopped pieces of fennel in a pan heated to medium high (seasoned cast iron is preferable). Add a healthy amount of olive oil, let it heat, then throw in the chopped fennel. Let pieces brown before flipping, just like caramelizing onions. When you’re done, add kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon and voilà!


The food world’s latest and greatest vegetable darling is none other than cauliflower (more here). Pureed with raisins in dip (actually really delish!), served flash fried, steamed, pickled or seasoned with an array of Spanish or Mediterranean spices, this once overlooked wallflower is getting plenty of traction from some of the best chefs in the business. Chef Dan Barber brings the cauliflower to the center of the plate with Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Puree. Chef Vikas Khanna makes a beautiful Tree of Life Cauliflower that’s as delicious as it is stunning. Chef Kevin Naderi of Roost in Houston, serves a roasted, flash-fried, bonito-covered cauliflower that locals and bloggers have been going nuts for since the restaurant opened in December of 2011.

Really to try something really nouvelle? How about Pizza with Cauliflower Crust? Topped with spicy tomato sauce, parsley and prosciutto, this is one preparation that’s sure to surprise.

Green Onions

Often seen as a garnish more than the starring attraction, these fresh, lively onions deserve more time in the spotlight. Green onion pancakes are one delectable possibility. Added to mash potatoes is another nice, easy way to give them pride of place. Another is the classic Korean green onion salad, Pa Muchim. The green onion both enhances and rounds out the umami taste of heavily marinated, grilled meats commonly found at Korean barbeque. Serve it at home alongside skirt steaks marinated with soy to get the full effect. Add romaine to the traditional recipe for a slightly less punchy version of the classic.

One more suggestion: Try charring green onions on the grill or stovetop. Purée with a fresh goat cheese or crème fraîche. This excellent sauce is a quick way to dress up nearly any kind of fish.

Carrots, Beets and other Tubers

The advent of the organic, artisan carrot is still fresh in the minds of most chefs. It’s easy to make the most of this simple root vegetable with simple techniques. Roasted with a hint of olive oil and a dollop of burrata? Sure, that’s one way to go. Of, you can opt for something a bit more complex like Mark Bittman’s Carrot Gnocchi.

When it comes to those other root vegetables from beets, turnips, radishes, Jerusalem artichokes, cassava, rutabaga and all their cousins, basically all of them are bound to be hot ticket items this fall. From soups to dips to latkes, these root veggies are getting some due praise for their distinctive, earthy flavors and versatility. Go au gratin! Make a risotto staring a medley of carrots and rutabaga, roast them in the pan with that chicken of yours. They yearn for your artistry.

Click here to read our in-depth post on carrots.

Happy Cooking!

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