I'm a Dietitian & These Are My Favorite Mediterranean Diet Dinners for Fall
Leaves are starting to change in many places across the country and the days are getting shorter. The beginning of a new season has me in the mood for all my fall favorites: comforting stews, cheesy casseroles, creamy pastas and hearty salads. When the temperature drops, I want something simple, warm and comforting that will keep me nourished and feeling my best, and these dinners are just that. These dishes prove that the principles of the Mediterranean diet can apply to all different types of meals and recipes. They're packed with produce, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, fish, healthy fats and various spices that take their flavor up a notch. Including a variety of these food groups can help you reap the benefits of one of the healthiest ways of eating. Plus, several of these meals rely on pantry staples like canned beans, rice, canned tomatoes and nuts so you can meet your nutritional needs without breaking the bank. If you need me, I'll be curled up on the couch with recipes like our Roasted Maple-Glazed Chicken & Carrots or our Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage all autumn long. For more budget- and beginner-friendly tips, tricks and recipes, check out Thrifty.
This healthy basic beef chili recipe is well worth doubling so you can throw a batch in the freezer. Serve topped with diced red onion, sliced scallions, shredded cheese and your favorite hot sauce.
Adobo Chicken & Kale Enchiladas
Put out your favorite toppings for these quick and healthy layered enchiladas. We like cilantro, sour cream, guacamole and jalapeños.
Roasted Maple-Glazed Chicken & Carrots
Olive oil and maple syrup transform into a sticky-sweet sauce in the hot oven. Drizzling the chicken drippings over the carrots amps up their flavor even more.
Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage
Though traditional stuffed cabbage recipes are made with meat, here Savoy cabbage leaves are stuffed with a combination of rice, mushrooms, onions, garlic and herbs for a healthy vegetarian stuffed cabbage recipe. The stuffed cabbage leaves gently bake in a simple tomato sauce. This easy stuffed cabbage recipe can be made ahead of time and baked just before serving.
Fall Chopped Salad with Spinach, Butternut Squash, Apples & Cheddar
Who says spinach salads are only for spring? Use autumn's tender crop of fresh spinach and other seasonal vegetables to make this fall salad with roasted butternut squash, apples, cheddar and pecans. This colorful and healthy salad would be a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving menu, but there's no reason to save it for holidays--serve it along with chicken or pork for a healthy weeknight dinner, or turn it into a main course by adding some chickpeas or chopped chicken or turkey.
This version of the Italian classic soup Minestrone is packed with leeks, potatoes, beans, zucchini, spinach and orzo, making it perfect for a hearty lunch or supper on a cold winter's night. To make a vegetarian version use vegetable rather than chicken broth. Top each bowl with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for a zesty burst of flavor.
One-Pot Arroz con Pollo
Juicy cuts of chicken get cooked alongside rice, onion, tomatoes and broth in this irresistible one-pot dish that pulls inspiration from the Puerto Rican arroz con pollo. For added fiber, brown rice stands in for the white rice typically used.
Peppery Barbecue-Glazed Shrimp with Vegetables & Orzo
In this healthy BBQ shrimp recipe, shrimp are seasoned with a peppery spice blend and served with zucchini, peppers and whole-grain orzo for a delicious and easy dinner that's ready in just 30 minutes. The shrimp and veggies are cooked in the same skillet, so cleanup is a snap too.
Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Canned pumpkin adds mellow background flavor and works to thicken up this turkey pumpkin chili. Smoked paprika adds flavor with a hint of spice. This chili is on the thicker side—if you want it thinner, add a bit more water.
One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta
This chicken Parmesan pasta uses the one-pot pasta method to cook your noodles, chicken and sauce all in one skillet for a fast and easy dinner with minimal cleanup. Finish the dish under the broiler to achieve a delicious melted cheese crust.
Vegan Lentil Stew
This comforting vegan lentil stew is incredibly satisfying thanks to hearty lentils and sweet potato. The leeks provide a savory allium note while the tomato paste, miso and cumin add bold flavor.
Curried Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup
In this flavorful soup recipe, sweet potatoes simmer in a quick coconut curry, resulting in a creamy, thick broth punctuated by notes of garlic and ginger. We love peanuts for their inexpensive price and versatile flavor. They're also a great source of protein—1 ounce has 7 grams.
One-Pot Chicken Pesto Pasta with Asparagus
This healthy chicken pesto pasta recipe is easy to make thanks to convenience ingredients like rotisserie chicken and store-bought pesto. The addition of fresh asparagus brightens up the look and flavors of this easy one-pot dinner. Fresh basil, if you have it on hand, is a nice finishing touch.
Classic Chicken Soup
Classic chicken noodle soup gets a healthy upgrade with low-sodium chicken broth, whole-wheat egg noodles and tons of vegetables. To get a homemade stock flavor using store-bought broth, we simmer bone-in chicken breasts in the broth before adding the rest of the soup ingredients. But you're short on time, feel free to use pre-cooked chicken and start the recipe at step 2.
Hearty Chickpea & Spinach Stew
This satisfying stew comes together in a snap. Mashed chickpeas add body to the broth, and tomato paste adds a savory note without piling on the sodium. To simplify the prep, look for chopped fresh onion and shredded carrot or a soup starter mix in the produce section.
White Bean & Veggie Salad
This meatless main-dish salad combines creamy, satisfying white beans and avocado. Try mixing it up with different seasonal vegetables.