By Jenna Weber
Cooking seasonal meals is the best way to stretch your dollar at the dinner table, so I have more fall-inspired recipes to keep your tummy full and your bills low. I recently moved to Northern California where there is much more of a change of season than in South Florida, where I'm from. As I drink in all the delicious autumn air, I'm loving fall produce to make simple meals. Since I'm a little homesick and missing my friends and family back home, I'm looking for figure-friendly comfort foods that pack a whole lot of flavor—but not excessive fat. And I'm starting a new job, so I haven't quite gotten in to the groove of my new schedule—meaning I don't have time to stress about my meals.
The chicken enchiladas and roasted veggie soup make wonderful leftovers for lunch boxes. Let the flavors meld overnight and they taste even better heated up the next day. And the poached eggs and salmon are perfect when you only have 15 minutes to spare in the kitchen. The last time I was far away from my home base, I was studying food writing in France. I felt even more alone because of the language barrier. Poached eggs became my go-to dinner, so now I see them as the ultimate comfort food. Give them a try on a crisp fall evening—they're easy, they require almost no cleanup, and they're gentle on your wallet too!
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenders (go for organic if you can afford it)Small can diced green chiles1 bottle salsa1 container light sour cream1 package whole-wheat tortillas2 cans enchilada sauce1 large bag reduced fat Mexican cheese1 sweet potato1 red bell pepper2 parsnips1 red onion1 butternut squash1 quart vegetable broth2 cloves of garlicLentils (easiest and most affordable to buy in bulk!)4 5-oz salmon steaks4 large heirloom tomatoes2 large packages of spring lettuce mixOlive oilSea saltBlack pepperEggsBalsamic vinegar
Easy Chicken Enchiladas This recipe is the perfect nod to my new California home.
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders8 whole-wheat tortillas3/4 cup light sour cream3/4 cup salsa1 can diced green chiles2 cans enchilada sauce1 large package (give or take) reduced-fat Mexican cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Boil a pot of water on the stove. Add thechicken breasts and poach them until done.
2. In an 8" by 8" glass casserole dish, pour one of the enchiladasauces to coat the bottom of the dish.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and the salsa.
4. When the chicken is done, cool and shred into bite-size pieces. Laya tortilla flat on your working space. Smear a little sour cream/salsamixture, chicken, a sprinkle of cheese, and a few green chile pieces.Close up the tortilla and lay, seam side down, in the enchilada saucein the dish. Prepare each tortilla this way.
5. When all the tortillas are filled and tightly packed into thecasserole dish, pour over the remaining can of enchilada sauce. Coverwith the remaining cheese and green chiles.
6. Bake covered in foil for about 20 minutes, then remove the foil andbake for 10 minutes more. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Roasted Veggie and Lentil SoupNothing says fall like a thick, hearty soup.
1 parsnip, chopped1 sweet potato, chopped2 whole cloves garlic1 red bell pepper, chopped1 red onion, chopped2 cups vegetable stock1/2 tbsp olive oil1/2 butternut squash, cubedSea salt and pepper1/4 cup dry lentils
1. Put the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring toa boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30–35 minutes, untiltender. Drain.
2.Preheat the oven to 400º. Combine all vegetables plus garlic in alarge roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.
3. Roast the veggies for about 40 minutes, until completely tender.
4. Move 1/2 of the roasted vegetables to a blender (or food processor),add the stock, and puree until smooth. Pour into a pot.
5. Add the other non-pureed veggies to the pot with the puree. Add thelentils and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and thenserve when heated through.
Pan-Seared Salmon With Heirloom Tomato SaladThe ultimate superfoods dinner! Omega-3 packed salmon pairs perfectly with a lycopene-rich tomato salad.
4 5-oz salmon steaks (wild Alaskan preferred)2 tbsp extra virgin olive oilSea saltPepper4 large heirloom tomatoesSpring lettuce mixBalsamic vinaigrette dressing (or salad dressing of choice)
1. Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a cast iron skillet.
2. Season each salmon steak with sea salt and pepper. Once oil issizzling hot, add salmon. Sear two fillets at a time, to not overcrowdthe pan.
3. Sear each salmon steak for about 5–6 minutes per side or untildesired effect is achieved. I like my salmon on the medium-rare sideso I veer toward the 5-minute rule.
4. On each portion of lettuce, top with a thickly sliced tomato.Drizzle with dressing and serve alongside salmon.
Poached Eggs, Parisian StyleMy favorite comfort food dish—plus it's quick and super cheap to boot!
8 eggs1 large bag spring mixBalsamic vinegarExtra virgin olive oilSea salt and pepper to tasteA couple drops of vinegar
1. In a small bowl, combine about 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with2 tbsp vinegar. Whisk and add a tiny touch of sea salt. Set aside.
2. In simmering water, add a drop or two of vinegar and then thecracked eggs, gently. Simmer for about 6 minutes or so until thewhites have coagulated. Gentle remove with a slotted spoon—careful!
3. On each person's plate, place a mound of lettuce and top with twopoached eggs. Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve.