While it's sad to say goodbye to summer, there's plenty to be excited about this fall. Like 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: Pasta al forno with pumpkin and pancetta
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 apple of our eye: Sausage and apple pie
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: Apple galette with tahini frangipane and honey-hibiscus glaze
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. For all your leftover apples: Apple dumplings
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: Caramelized butternut squash wedges with a sage hazelnut pesto
This vegetarian side takes the classic butternut squash-sage combination and turns it up a notch (or five!) with a 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: Cheese fondue-stuffed roasted pumpkin
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: Pumpkin brownies
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 we await year-round: Mushrooms on toast
"In the fall I eat exorbitant amounts of mushrooms," says 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: Apple cider and cardamom-roasted pears
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: The Vermonter
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: Apple rye punch
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.