Summer produce—heirloom tomatoes, peaches, corn—is still available in many places, but we can feel fall in the air, and are just about ready to start cooking with apples and squash instead. These seasonal recipes will help you use up the last of summer’s bounty and roll right on into autumn ingredients.
These threshold seasons—the few weeks when one season is ending and a new one’s launching, with the produce overlap that happens—are some of our favorite things on the yearly food calendar.
Summer into fall is the best of all, a time when last-blast sweet, ripe tomatoes might have first-of-the-year butternut squash as a bin neighbor at the produce store. So here’s a bushel of recipes (roughly evenly split between a summer bent and an autumnal one) that, together, speak to right now.
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Of course, if you’d rather hang on a little longer, you can make summer fruit preserves or fruit cordial. But if you just want to feast on some of the last summer vegetables, dive right into these recipes, and you’ll come out on the other side of the season.
End of Summer Recipes
When corn is new, we want to eat it straight from the cob, as fresh and unadorned as possible. As the season lumbers to an end, though, we’re looking for new ways to eat it—and, frankly, for ways that take advantage of the starchiness and diminished sugar of late summer corn—like this delicious fritter recipe. Get our Crispy Corn Fritters recipe.
Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Corn Zipper, $12 on Amazon
Less messy than cutting off the kernels with a knife (allegedly).
The last of the candy-sweet summer cherry tomatoes are great piled onto a free-form tart with soft, mellow garlic confit and briny anchovies (though if you must, you can skip the fish). Get the Cherry Tomato Tart with Anchovies and Garlic Confit recipe.
When it’s still warm enough to enjoy cold soup, make this no-waste gazpacho that combines two summer icons: watermelon and tomatoes, plus fall fave fennel, among a few other ingredients. It’s fast, easy, and delicious, and the pickled watermelon rind garnish isn’t just a clever, tasty way to reduce food waste, it’s a great trick for preserving a little bit of summer into fall. Get the Watermelon Gazpacho with Pickled Watermelon Rind recipe.
Though they might come from greenhouses 9 months of the year, peppers come into their own after mid-summer. By late summer, just as fall is massing at the gates, local sweet peppers are at their peak. This elegant tart takes beautiful advantage of that and pairs them with salty feta and creamy ricotta cheese. Get our Roasted Red Pepper Tart recipe.
Fresh blueberries are one of the tastes of summer for us. Sprinkled through fruit salads, whizzed up in yogurt smoothies, even sauced for pancakes and waffles. Here, fresh, juicy berries turn the clichéd blueberry pastry into a thing, we realize, is best kept seasonal. Get our Blueberry Spice Coffee Cake recipe.
Fennel and berries don’t seem to have much to say to one another, especially in the same dish. This salad proves that assumption wrong. Late-summer strawberries, usually softer and riper than at other times during the summer, find a juicy purpose with refreshing, crisp fennel. Get our Shaved Fennel and Strawberry Salad recipe.
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The thing we love about eating zucchini at the end of summer, despite the fact of using up the prodigious yield from our gardens, is there’s such an easygoing variety for the slipping into shopping bags: green, golden, striated—it’s a variable bounty. Get our Sautéed Zucchini recipe.
Pluots are one of botany’s great late-summer life enhancements—we love their variety, the sweetness and acidity, the slight blush of bitterness. This simple recipe weds delicious fruit with sweet, luxuriously textured sauce, and take the extra step of slipping both beneath the broiler. Get our Broiled Pluots with Zabaglione recipe.
Early Fall Recipes
It used to be we’d avoid Brussels sprouts until we absolutely couldn’t refuse them. Nowadays we rejoice when the fall season brings them back to the supermarket produce bin. Here’s a salad recipe for the lingering warm-weather days of late summer. Get our Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad recipe.
We look forward to pumpkin pasta dishes the way some of our coffee-loving friends anticipate pumpkin spice lattes. This recipe from a San Francisco chef is beautifully balanced (pumpkin sweetness, sage weediness, cheese umami-ness) and almost frighteningly suave. Get our Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds recipe.
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First apple crisp of the year is a hallowed annual rite of passage! This recipe is sweet, satisfying, and delicious enough to make it feel like a celebration, and still easy enough to make it low stress. Get our Easy Apple Crisp recipe.
We love when fennel reappears in the fall, but really, the delight of seeing this recipe come back on the calendar is for the braising part. The cooler months are prime braising time, and this delicious, easy pork chop recipe is a gentle reintroduction. Get our Braised Pork Chops and Fennel recipe.
Otherwise known as schiacciata con l’uva—a Tuscan specialty. Grapes from California burst into peak flavor in September, a bridge between the seasons that feels, on the West Coast, like the beginnings of deep fall. It looks cool, too! Get our Grape and Grappa Focaccia recipe.
This is the easiest recipe imaginable. The hardest part—when it’s not fall, that is—is finding the acorn squash, at least acorn squash that’s sweet and newly harvested enough to be worth the time. This recipe is a calendar changer, for sure. (Try it with wild rice stuffing too.) Get our Roasted Acorn Squash recipe.
Crumbled blue cheese is the kicker that gives this simple, crunchy salad its cool-weather soul. It’s a perfect bridge between summer and fall, reminiscent of the cole slaws we made all summer, but with apples—suddenly good—and that reflective, fall-friendly cheese. Get our Tangy Apple and Beet Salad recipe.
Caramel-drenched pears embedded in an easy skillet cake are as cozy as they are delicious, and crystallized ginger makes the comforting dessert even more warming. Plus, there’s cinnamon and brown sugar, which make fall fruit even sweeter—and the loss of summer that much easier to bear. Get our Skillet Pear Cake recipe.