How to cook with the most intimidating fall produce

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Fall is finally starting to settle in, and with the cool and crisp air comes the desire to get back in the kitchen and light up the oven. Pumpkin, apples and squash may be everywhere this time of year, but other equally delicious fall produce doesn’t get the love it deserves. Omitting these underrated, or even intimidating, fruits and veggies from your diet means missing out on a wide variety of amazing fall flavors and textures.

“Eating seasonally” may sound like a trend, but there are a whole list of reasons to do just that. First, seasonal food is usually sourced locally, so it ripens naturally on the plant, rather than on a truck. That means it retains its nutrients and vibrant flavor. And because seasonal produce spends less time on the truck, it’s better for the environment. An added bonus: In-season produce tends to be easier on your wallet as well. Whether you’re shopping at the farmer’s market or supermarket, make the most of the fall produce by venturing out of your comfort zone with these underrated, yet delicious picks.

Lively Table


If you had to guess what fennel tasted like just by just looking at the celery-like stalks, you probably wouldn’t assume that it has a licorice flavor profile. Derived from the Mediterranean region, fennel is a staple in traditional Italian cooking. The majority of fennel in the American stores grows in California. Interestingly, fennel is part of the parsley family, and all parts of the plant are edible. Not to mention that just one cup of fennel contains 20 percent of your daily vitamin C, plus some fiber, iron and potassium.

Recipe box: Fennel can be cooked or eaten raw. It accompanies roasted pork loin really nicely or adds big flavor to a pear and arugula salad.

The Nutrition Adventure


If you’ve never tried this tomato look-alike, you’re missing out on big sweet and juicy flavor. Persimmons are an Asian fruit, and there are two major types — hachiya and fuyu. A ripe hachiya is acorn-shaped and extremely soft (almost falling apart), and a fuyu is smaller, flat and is ripe when the texture resembles that of a peach. Both are deliciously sweet and should be stored on the counter. Most persimmon recipes use the raw fruit, but cooking it will bring out the inherent sweetness. Their vibrant orange color means persimmons are packed with tons of vitamin A, plus vitamin C and manganese.

Recipe box: If you’re still new to persimmons, try blending them into a smoothie or add them to your favorite breakfast grain bowl.

Nutrition a la Natalie


Endive is confusing. With three different varieties that all look rather different, buying endive can be overwhelming. But here’s the simple truth: Endive refers to any bitter-flavored plant in the chicory family. That includes Belgian endive, curly endive (aka frisée or chicory) and flat-leafed endive (aka escarole). All three types of endive have a slightly crunchy texture and mildly bitter taste, and they make a hearty base for any fruit and nut salad. Belgian endive consists of large long leaves, which are often used for dipping or holding other foods. Curly endive or frisée is typically used in salads, and escarole is often added to soups. The three varieties differ slightly in their nutrition profile, but they all contain vitamin C, fiber, folate and vitamin E.

Recipe box: The easiest way to use any type of endive is in a salad. Frisée pairs nicely with fruits, nut and cheese in this simple fall salad.