Enjoying this time of year takes some willpower if you’re a “summer person,” and none at all if you’re an “autumn person.” The former is wistfully hanging up her (many!) swimsuits, drinking lemonade and sangria on the porch like it’s mid-July, and eating the last of her summer tomatoes. The latter, on the other hand, is rustling up her scarves and sweaters and daydreaming about hot cider with cloves and—forgive us—hot chocolate!
Happily enough, there’s middle ground as we bridge the seasons: Light-on-its-feet comfort food. You don’t need to be serving up mac ‘n cheese and stew… yet! There are other options that both take advantage of this misty in-between weather and make you feel like you’re garnering the very best of the last gasp of bounty at the glorious late-summer farmer’s market. (And remember, technically the first day of fall isn’t until September 22nd!)
1. Oatmeal with Cashew Milk
Warm oats, cool cashew milk and a bevy of berries come together in this beauty. Picture yourself curled up with a bowl of it. We love that you make the cashew milk yourself, in a Vitamix, and that you can swap in whatever seasonal fruit floats your boat.
2. Mushroom “Carnitas” Tacos
So you’re craving meat like it’s going out of style, but you know you don’t want to load up on it just yet. Enter: mushroom “carnitas” tacos. There’s nothing like a mushroom when you want a meat substitute, particularly a king oyster mushroom drowned in plenty of garlic, cumin, adobo sauce, beer and orange and lime juices. (It’s like carnitas!) A chipotle-lime mayo puts the whole thing wonderfully over the top.
3. Tortilla Soup
If there is a dish that encapsulates this time of year, it’s got to be tortilla soup. Slightly spicy, meaty, creamy, brothy, and, well, chicken-y, it’s got exactly the flavors we’re craving. Plus lime! This chicken, tortilla and lime soup is our go-to. Bonus: It’s ready to eat in half an hour.
4. Instant Pot Spiced Carrot and Cashew Soup
Sometimes seasonal self-care looks like breaking out your Instant Pot. It’s fast, it usually entails fewer dishes, and it tends to be less stressful than standing and stirring, particularly if you have kids! This soup draws on a classic Indian cuisine pantry for depth of flavor and umami boom. And it’s ready in less than an hour.
5. Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
If you’re accustomed to all-American mac ‘n cheese as your go-to comfort food, remember all the other cuisines are equally comforting! Thai chicken lettuce wraps, aka larb, may be what you need. Ground chicken cooks up quickly in a wok, and spiced with garlic, ginger, green onions, fish sauce and lime, it’s flavorful enough to wallop you when packed inside a lettuce leaf.
6. Corn Risotto
Did you eat enough corn this summer? Neither did we! Risotto with fresh corn and basil to the rescue. An easy blender pesto, fresh corn kernels and a flurry of chives make this baby extra-special. This is the sort of entrée vegetarians dream about.
7. Air-Fried Chicken Wings
Oh, hello, handsome. Got your air fryer yet? Bust it out for air-fried chicken wings that will fool even the hungriest wing obsessive. They’re ready in half an hour without your kitchen smelling like the local cafeteria. Gotta love an air fryer.
8. Skillet Apple-Cranberry Apple Crisp
You say “comfort.” We say “dessert.” Apple-cranberry crisp requires only three-fourths of a cup of sugar to be out-of-this-world delicious. You make it in a skillet, which is a charming, rustic presentation not unlike the season itself.