Fall Pantry Cleaning is the New Spring Cleaning, and We’re Here For It

By Carolyn Stine October 17, 2019 

We sometimes think that fall gets a bad rap. All of those years of pumpkin spice flavorings have really started to mess with our heads, and when we see the PSL rear its ugly head in August, along with everything from pumpkin spice Oreos to Cheerios to body wash and beyond, we can’t help but do a subtle eye roll. But when you go beyond the #basic, fall sure has a lot to offer in terms of all of the incredible seasonal treats that you can whip up in the kitchen. And the foundation of any fall feast is a well-stocked pantry. Wave goodbye to raw, cool, and crisp summer salads; say sayonara to the chilled soups you whipped up in your blender. It’s time to crank up the oven, fire up the stove, and bring back hearty, warming fall fare. We’re going to walk you through a full pantry revamp for fall - how to clean it out, how to stock it anew, and how to pair that newly-christened fall pantry with all of the seasonal ingredients that are coming to your local market, in real time.

Take Stock

If there’s anything we’ve learned from years of spring cleaning, closet purges, and of course, the life-changing magic of tidying up our spice cabinet, it’s that any project ought to begin by knowing what you already have. And folks, that means taking a detailed inventory of, gasp, what you already have in your pantry. Yep, this is the time to pull everything out and take a long hard look at the gaps and surpluses. Down to the dregs on the farro because you made our favorite Charlie Bird salad all summer? Add that to your shopping list. Looking at seven unused cans of chickpeas? Maybe hold off on grabbing more. Absentmindedly purchased Banza rice every time you shop, and now have three separate, open pouches? Let’s consolidate. Make sure that your pantry is cleaned out and in tip-top shape for fall additions will make your life, and grocery list, that much cleaner and more efficient. 

Load Up on Staples

While the summer season is all about creating as little heat as possible in the kitchen, fall is the time to crank up that oven and stove. Soups, stews, and braises are back in a big way, and your pantry is going to provide the assists with bringing all of these mouth-watering fall recipes to life. Here is our essential list of fall pantry staples.

Dried lentils and beans (such as black, kidney, cannellini) 

Canned beans (such as chickpeas)

Canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling - get it sans spices and sweetener)

Coconut milk (full fat, always)

Tomato paste and crushed tomatoes (we love San Marzano)

Chicken and veggie broth

Grains (such as farro, barley, quinoa, couscous)

Dried fruit (such as tart cherries, dates, cranberries)

Nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts - whatever your heart desires!)

Rolled oats (oatmeal and crumble season is here)

Baking staples (such as flour, sugars, baking powder and soda, dried yeast)

Seasonal Specialties 

Now that you have a well-stocked fall pantry, we need to talk about what’s going to bring your recipes to life. The stars of the show that will pair perfectly with the pantry essentials are your seasonal, farmer’s market finds. This is what’s in season this fall. 

Squashes - butternut, acorn, kabocha

Apple, pears, pomegranates 

Kale and collard greens

Root veggies - beets, kohlrabi, parsnips, turnips, carrots

Pumpkin (duh)

Cruciferous veggies - cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage

All Together Now

So the pantry is good to go, and you know what to expect to find when you hit the farmer’s market (apple cider donut in hand) this Saturday morning. But how does it all come together? We’ve curated some of our favorite fall recipes that combine the freshest of seasonal produce with those pantry staples.

Chickpea and Kale Shakshuka

Whether you’re making brunch for one (with leftovers), dinner for two, or feeding a crowd, shakshuka is the star of the show. It’s a warm and cozy one-pot meal that can be served at any time of day, and we love this twist on the classic recipe. The fresh farmer’s market kale adds a pop of green, and the dish gets its heartiness from its base of canned chickpeas and crushed tomatoes. 

Blackened Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dates

Sometimes that we think that we look forward to fall solely so we can make this brussels sprouts recipe. The balance of flavors is incredible here - you get the crunch from the fresh sprouts, smokiness from the bacon, sweetness from the dates, and a little tart bite from the red wine vinegar. We’ve successfully made this recipe vegan, too, by swapping out the bacon for some smoked sea salt. 

Coconut Apple Ginger Daal

Daal has worked its way into our hearts as one of our all-time favorite cold weather comfort foods, and we love how it can function as either a soup or a side dish depending on how long you cook it and how much liquid you add. Grab the dried lentils and coconut milk from your pantry, and liven them up with a killer trifecta of apple, ginger, and a squeeze of lime juice. 

Braised Short Ribs with Squash and Chile

We’ve eaten a lot of squash a lot of ways, but this heavenly pairing with braised short ribs really knocked our socks off. It turns out that sweet acorn squash is an incredible counterpoint to the richness of the short ribs and the spiciness of dried chiles, and the tomato paste from your pantry adds a velvety richness that ties it all together. 

Pear Cake with Honey and Spelt

Juicy fall pears singularly shine in this incredible (and easy) pear cake. The buttermilk and almonds add really lovely secondary flavor notes, and the lemon-honey glaze is quite literally the icing on the cake. 

Vegan Tuscan Pumpkin Pasta

Have you heard - pumpkin does not just belong in a pie, people! We love this rich, vegan pumpkin pasta sauce so much that we’ve literally tried putting it on everything - from Banza to zucchini noodles to stir fried chicken and veggies. The base is made from good old canned pumpkin puree and tomatoes, but you can absolutely sub in fresh pumpkin from the market if you’re feeling adventurous. Warm cinnamon notes and freshly chopped sage round all of those flavors out perfectly.

What are your fall pantry staples that you can’t live without? How are you cooking with them? Keep us updated below!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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