Healthy Fall Produce
To select, look for firm, vibrantly colored apples with no bruises. They should smell fresh, not musty. Skins should be tight and smooth.
See More: Our Best Apples Recipes
Because their season is fleeting—from October to December—you should get quinces while you can. Look for them in large supermarkets, farmers' markets, and specialty or ethnic stores. They'll fill an entire room with their enticing scent.
See More: In Season: Quince
To select, look for firm, evenly colored mushrooms. Avoid mushrooms that are broken, damaged, or have soft spots, as well as those that seem damp or smell of mildew. It's a good idea to hand-select mushrooms; choose those of equal size if they are to be cooked whole, so they'll cook evenly.
See More: In Season: Mushrooms
To select, the tastiest winter squashes will be solid and heavy with stems that are full, firm, and have a corky feel. The skin of the squash should be deeply colored with a matte finish. Avoid squash with cracks, soft spots, and moldy areas.
See More: Winter Squash Recipes
Available year-round, shallots should be firm and heavy for their size. Store them in a cool, dry place up to one month.
• Three-Bean Salad
• Balsamic and Shallot Chicken Breasts
• Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup
• Mixed Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with Shallot-Port Reduction
• Braised Turkey Roulade with Pancetta, Shallots, and Porcini Gravy
See More: How to Mince Shallots
Sage is available either fresh or in three dried forms: ground, coarsely crumbled, or rubbed (finely chopped). To store fresh sage leaves, simply wrap them in a damp paper towel, and place them in a plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator, where they should keep fresh for several days.
To select, look for small to medium-sized tubers with few bruises and smooth skin.
• Sweet Potato Chile Mac
• Butter-Pecan Mashed Sweet Potatoes
• Twice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle
• Lasagna with Fall Vegetables, Gruyère and Sage Béchamel
• Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole
See More: Our Best Sweet Potato Recipes
To select, test for ripeness by applying light thumb pressure near the pear's stem. If it is ripe, there will be a slight give.
See More: What to Eat Right Now: Pears
To select, look for pumpkins that are small, about 5 to 8 pounds, with tough skin. They are prized for their concentrated flavor and sweetness.
See More: 10 Things to Know About Pumpkins
• Brussels Sprouts Gratin
• Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic, and Shallots
• Brussels Sprouts with Currants and Pine Nuts
• Brussels Sprouts with Honey-Glazed Pearl Onions and Capocollo
• Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce
See More: In Season: Brussels Sprouts
Choose a sturdy cauliflower that is compact; you want leaves that are crisp and green without signs of yellowing. The size of the head does not affect the quality.
• Baked Italian-Style Cauliflower
• Gratin of Cauliflower with Gruyère
• Roasted Cauliflower Fettuccine
• Cauliflower "Caviar" with Frizzled Prosciutto
• Crispy Topped Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin
To select, don't judge by looks alone. A shrunken and wrinkled fig may actually be a better choice than one that looks pristine. Small cracks won't affect the flavor. Also, ripe figs should be heavy for their size.
• Pork with Figs and Farro
• Caramelized Fresh Figs with Sweet Cream
• Granola with Honey-Scented Yogurt and Baked Figs
• Warm Salad of Grilled Figs, Grapes, and Bitter Greens
• Fresh Fig Focaccia
See More: Fantastic Fig Recipes