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There are many well-known fall fruits and vegetables none of us can seem to get enough of—apples, pumpkins, pears, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, figs, cranberries, mushrooms, pomegranates, and so on—but there are also bushels of underappreciated autumn edibles we urge you to try if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.
The season is ripe (pun intended) for eating nutritious and comforting veggie-centric recipes—and not just the carveable kind.
“After cooking light in the warmer months, it’s great to start working with deeper, richer and hearty ingredients, with a variety of different applications,” says Greg Grossman, co-founder and president of meal delivery company Kettlebell Kitchen.
Read ahead for the most appetizing fall produce that flies under the radar:
Also known as celery root, this versatile vegetable may not be much to look at it, but it’s packed with fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. It also tastes great in any form; raw, its nutty crunch is perfect for fall slaw and salad. Cooked, it mellows out and picks up a little sweetness—and works pureed in soup, mashed in place of potatoes (or mixed in with them), or roasted or sauteed for stuffing, gratins, and other sides. You can even shred it and turn it into latkes!
A close relative of the carrot, parsnips bring a bit of sweetness to the root vegetable family. “Parsnips have an impressive level of vitamin C, which can boost eye health and aid in fighting macular degeneration,” says Grossman. They’re also high in fiber and folate, which together with vitamin C can boost your heart health, Grossman says. Puree them as a replacement for mashed potatoes or serve them roasted in lieu of carrots. Try our Honey-Mustard Parsnips recipe.
These bitter little members of the chicory family are good sources of vitamin A, fiber, and phytonutrients including kaempferol, which has anti-inflammatory benefits. Raw, endive has fabulous crunch but needs to be offset by other, sweeter flavors (like in these endive bites with figs, pecans, and blue cheese), but you can also braise it to tone down the bitterness and make it silky soft. This Braised Endive recipe from Emily Wight’s “Dutch Feast” pairs it with bacon and mustard sauce.
The reddish leafy vegetable is not only a source of a slew of B vitamins that help metabolize fat, protein, and carbohydrates, radicchio is also high in vitamins C and K, good for the immune system and bone health, respectively. “Radicchio is one of my favorite (and vastly underrated) vegetables,” Grossman says. “I love charring it and serving with an acidic vinaigrette, gremolata, and lots of fresh herbs.”
For an unconventional approach to radicchio try our Radicchio Risotto recipe.
You know broccoli, but what about its bolder, cooler cousin, broccoli rabe? Rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, folate, and iron, broccoli rabe has a pleasing bitterness and takes well to all the same preparations as your usual florets. Roast it, steam it, or saute it with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper; add some anchovies if you like, or pair with the sweetness of caramelized onions.
Food of the gods? Yup, that’s what the Latin name for the tree this fruit comes from translates to. It’s little wonder then that the fruit is so delicious. “They provide a heaping amount of powerful antioxidants, are rich in fiber and can help fight inflammatory stress throughout flu/cold season,” says dietitian Megan Sewards, M.S., R.D. Add persimmons to a salad, cook them into a jam or skip over your usual fruit picks and serve them fresh over yogurt, Sewards says.
Related Reading: 7 Wild Ingredients to Forage for This Fall
Searching for a crunchy veggie to chow down on this fall? Look no further than this herb. Along with being rich in vitamin C (good for the immune system!), fennel is also packed with important minerals like magnesium and iron. Add them to veggie juice blends or bake them with a bit of olive oil and grated parmesan for a side dish, says Sewards. “They also can be eaten raw as a crunchy snack, much like celery,” she says.
Keep things simple and serve up our Shaved Fennel and Pistachio recipe.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Fennel, From Fronds to Seeds
A quince is a hard fruit that looks a bit like a yellow-green apple/pear hybrid, but even tart food fans won’t want to eat one raw. They’re extremely astringent so are always cooked, often into quince paste (aka, membrillo) to be paired with cheese per Spanish tapas tradition. They also turn up frequently in stewed or baked desserts, but try them in our Tunisian Lamb Stew recipe for a savory take. There haven’t been that many studies as to their health benefits (underappreciated, remember?), but they are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and may help soothe your stomach.
These purple- or green-skinned vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. If you love eating broccoli stems (and if you didn’t know you could, you can!), kohlrabi may taste familiar. It’s a mild, slightly sweet veggie that’s good raw or cooked, and though it looks like a root vegetable (or an alien egg pod), it’s actually related to the brassicas: cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. In German, the name means “cabbage turnip.” Try mashing it to top our Kohlrabi Shepherd’s Pie recipe, roasting it for a side to salmon, or using it in Mock Potato Salad. Or just thinly slice for slaw or salad.
Rutabagas are rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. You’ll recognize them at the store by their ivory-into-purple coloring and squat shape (the green tops are usually trimmed off before you see them). Their slightly bitter flavor gets sweeter when roasted or sauteed; try sharpening them back up with mustard and scallions, or simply simmer until tender and blend into our silky Smoked Paprika and Rutabaga Soup recipe.
Beets: simply unbeatable when it comes to their color, flavor, and health benefits. And it’s not that these are unknown so much as unwelcome on many tables. But we think they should be part of everyone’s fall feasts!
“This root vegetable is known for its deep rich ruby color and an earthy flavor that turns mellow and sweet when cooked,” says Megan Casper, M.S., R.D.N., dietitian and owner of Nourished Bite Nutrition. People who drink beet juice before an intense workout can keep going 16 percent longer, Casper says, adding that the vegetable is great raw on salads, added to a juice, or roasted and sprinkled with walnuts and vinaigrette. “Don’t forget the greens, which can be sauteed or steamed,” Casper says.
These little tubers are also called sunchokes (they’re related to sunflowers, but have nothing to do with Jerusalem, nor do they taste like artichokes). They’re high in potassium and iron, plus a great source of prebiotic fiber. The taste and texture are fairly similar to potatoes, although unlike spuds, they’re good eaten raw—with one caveat. The inulin that makes them such a great prebiotic food does also mean they can have unwanted digestive side effects when eaten raw or in large quantities. If you’re not scared off, try our Jerusalem Artichokes with Crispy Prosciutto recipe.
Swap out your standard spuds for the more colorful blue potato. “Not only do these peculiar potatoes look gorgeous, but they also can help lower and regulate blood pressure, help prevent blood clots, and are packed with nutrients and antioxidants,” says Julie Joffrion, fitness nutrition specialist at All Inclusive Health. Try this variety as mashed potatoes, roasted wedges, or a fall potato salad, she suggests.
Moon Drop Grapes
Grapes are a great healthy snack, though you should also try adding them to salad and even cooking with them; the darker their skin, the higher their levels of beneficial antioxidants. But besides your usual black or red table grapes, you may have spotted these oblong specimens that resemble tiny eggplants in autumn. They’re Moon Drop Grapes and they’ve been specially bred (but not genetically modified). They taste a lot like other black seedless grapes, but are sweeter and have a crunchier texture, as well as a much shorter season. Take full advantage of it by simply snacking on them, or add to a cheese plate or the aforementioned salad.
Acorn squash always seems to play second fiddle to the more well-known butternut squash, but try it once and it will likely take a top spot in your rotation. “The truth is, acorn squash tastes just as sweet and is also loaded with potassium, vitamin A and C, fiber, and magnesium,” says certified nutritional health counselor Sara Siskind, founder of Hands On Healthy.
Halve the acorn squash, toss the seeds, and place a mixture of chopped pistachios, quinoa, golden raisins, with cumin, salt, pepper, and olive oil inside each half of the squash and bake on 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. “You can serve this dish as a delicious complete meal of protein, heart healthy fat, fiber, and nutrients,” Siskind.
Check out all the other winter squash you should seek out while you’re at it!
Related Video: Easy Roasted Acorn Squash
Kelsey Butler wrote the original version of this story in 2018. It has been updated with additional images, links, and text.
Header image courtesy of Pamela Webb / EyeEm / Getty Images