6 Easy Lunches to Make This Fall

For many people, the start of fall means the kickoff of soup season. Tomato, butternut, and sweet potato soups are at the top of restaurant menus. However, not everyone wants to only slurp their food when the leaves start to turn. There are other seasonal recipes you can follow when fall comes around, and we’re highlighting those you can eat for lunch. Pick one of these recipes to prepare for the week ahead and don’t forget to pack your fork and knife. You can leave your spoon at home.

1. Chicken and Squash Quesadillas

Chicken quesadilla

Chicken quesadilla | iStock.com

Chicken and carbs are always in season, but when you add squash to the mix, you can especially enjoy the flavors of fall. These chicken and squash quesadillas from Betty Crocker are simple to make, yet you get extra points from enlisting your favorite fibrous squash. This recipes enlists the butternut variety, and it pairs with Cheddar cheese, chicken, and salsa, packed into warm tortillas.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 1 pouch (4 ounces) 100% butternut squash purée
  • 8 flour tortillas (8 inch)
  • Cooking spray
  • Sour cream, if desired
  • Additional salsa, if desired

Directions: Mix cheese, chicken, 1/3 cup salsa, and the squash purée in a medium bowl.

Spray 1 side of 1 tortilla with cooking spray; place sprayed side down in 10-inch skillet. Spread with one-fourth of the chicken mixture. Top with another tortilla; spray top of tortilla with cooking spray.

Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully turn quesadilla over; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining tortillas and chicken mixture. To serve, cut quesadillas into wedges. Serve with sour cream and additional salsa.

2. Autumn Kale Salad

Superfood salad with raw kale

Superfood salad with raw kale | iStock.com/joshuaraineyphotography

The secret to making salads that are satiating is adding a grain base. This autumn kale salad from Gimme Some Oven does just that by including brown rice on its ingredients list. Also enlisted are sweet potatoes, broccoli, cranberries, and toasted pecans. A crumbling of feta or goat cheese doesn’t hurt either. Kale, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are all in season in the fall, and this salad that is tossed with a red wine vinaigrette will help you eat with the seasons the healthy way.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups roughly-chopped broccoli florets (about 1 small head of broccoli)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or farro
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • (Optional: ½ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese)

Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper and garlic powder, to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the vinaigrette: whisk all ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl, toss the diced sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil until combined. Spread them in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, tossing again to ensure even cooking.

As the sweet potatoes are cooking, add the broccoli to the same large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss to combine. Once the sweet potatoes have been tossed, push them to one side of the baking sheet, and spread the broccoli out on the second half in an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and transfer the sweet potatoes and broccoli to a large mixing bowl. Add the kale, brown rice, cranberries, pecans, and vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Serve warm, sprinkled with cheese.

3. Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Frittata

Frittata with spinach on a blue plate

Frittata with spinach on a blue plate | iStock.com

A frittata is a great dish to prepare on Sundays and enjoy for lunch for the week ahead. This sausage and broccoli rabe frittata from Bon Appetit is a good choice for the fall, as broccoli rabe is especially tasty in September and October. Aside from your greens, you need eggs, whole milk, cheddar, and chorizo. If the combination of those decadent ingredients don’t sound good, we don’t know what does.

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup grated cheddar, divided
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ pounds fresh Spanish chorizo or hot Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, coarsely chopped

Directions: Preheat broiler. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Mix in ½ cup cheddar; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and chorizo is brown, 6-8 minutes. Add broccoli rabe; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8-10 minutes longer.

Reduce heat to low and pour reserved egg mixture over vegetables. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until edges are just set, 10-12 minutes. Top frittata with remaining ¼ cup cheddar; broil until top is golden brown and center is set, about 4 minutes longer.

Cut frittata into wedges and serve warm or room temperature.

4. Bacon and Butternut Squash Pasta

Bacon and butternut squash pasta

Bacon and butternut squash pasta | iStock.com

Pasta and bacon is a match made in heaven. Throw in butternut squash and not only do you add a pop of color to your dish, you also get more nutrients, fiber, and flavor. This recipe is from Cooking Light and it’s another one you can prepare for lunches all week. It makes eight servings so it’ll easily feed you from Monday through Friday. As long as you have time to roast your squash, this pasta can easily be thrown together in minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups (½-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta), campanile, or other short pasta
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 2 bacon slices
  • 2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 ½ ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine squash and oil in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Add kale to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Bring 1 ¾ cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining ¼ cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in creme fraiche.

Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13-by-9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

5. Pumpkin Quinoa

Pumpkin quinoa

Pumpkin quinoa | iStock.com

This next recipe from Fannetastic Food can serve as a side dish or satisfying main meal if you add a protein source such as chicken or beans. The pumpkin quinoa is healthy comfort food at its best. You get your fixes of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients from the quinoa, bok choy, asparagus, and pumpkin listed on this recipe’s ingredients list. All you need to do to perfect your pumpkin quinoa is first cook your seeds, and then combine them with the sauteed veggies. After heating the ingredients together, you’ll add in your water, pumpkin, and spices, and then it’s time to top with parsley and feta cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder (divided)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • ¾ teaspoon coriander
  • Salt & cracked pepper to taste
  • Optional: parsley and feta cheese, for garnish

Directions: Cook your quinoa as directed.

While the quinoa is cooking, saute the bok choy and asparagus on medium heat in olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder. Veggies are done when they are soft.

At this time, reduce the heat to low, and add in your cooked quinoa. Mix together and add in water and pumpkin. Next, add remaining garlic powder and the ¾ teaspoon coriander. Stir ingredients together to ensure everything is heated through. Add salt and cracked pepper to taste. Top with parsley and feta cheese, if desired.

6. Sweet Potato Noodles

Sweet potato noodles

Sweet potato noodles | iStock.com

Last is a carb-filled dish that is actually good for you. Enter: sweet potato noodles from What’s Gaby Cooking. The superfood that is the sweet potato shines when it’s spiralized and made into faux noodles. Even better when, as instructed by this recipe, the sweet potatoes are combined with garlic, shallots, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes. You’re left with a bright orange noodle dish that will satisfy you the healthy way. Prepare these sweet potato noodles ahead of time and you’ll count down the minutes until lunch. The recipe will make four servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium California sweet potatoes, cut into noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and shallots and saute for about 1 minute. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for 5 to 6 more minutes. When done, season with salt and pepper as needed.

Next, add the sweet potato noodles to the skillet and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until they are tender. Add a tablespoon or two of water to continue to cook the sweet potato noodles until they are fully cooked. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Remove from the heat.

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