“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.” Sharon Kay Penman

Fall is my favorite time to entertain.  The nesting instinct grows in inverse proportion to the dropping mercury. I love the autumnal flavors of squashes, cranberries, apples and  pomegranate especially when they appear in  comfort foods.  This menu brings them all together and is simple to prepare with much of it make-ahead.

Fall Salad of Arugula with Caramelized Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate Seeds

Acorn Squash Rigatoni with Crispy Garlic Sage and Brown Butter Bread Crumb Topping

Individual Cranberry- Apple Crisps with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream


A salad with peppery arugula, crunchy sweet walnuts, nippy blue cheese and juicy, bright pomegrante seeds is a flavor explosion and a bright contrast to the rigatoni.    The caramelized walnuts can be made in advance or purchased to save time.  Adding ripe pear slices would also be delicious in this salad.

The Acorn Squash Rigatoni is a creamy comfort food with the dynamite pairing of squash,sage and bold gruyère and pecorino cheeses.  The squash can be baked in advance to ease last minute prep as can the brown butter bread crumbs.  By toasting the bread crumb topping, the dish avoids needing to go under the broiler at the risk of drying out the pasta.

Individualized cranberry-apple crisps are the just sweet-enough-dessert to satisfy every sweet tooth and can be assembled ahead of time and baked while the main course is being eaten and served warm with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.


Arugula Salad with Caramelized Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate


6 cups of arugula

1 c caramelized walnuts(Click here for how to caramelize your own walnuts)

4 oz crumbled blue cheese or Camembert

1/2 c pomegranate seeds

thinly sliced red onions, or scallions,  to taste


1/2 c Blood Orange olive oil (plain is fine)

3 T balsamic vinegar

1 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients to emulsify.  On a rimmed platter place the arugula.  Top with blue cheese, walnuts, onions and pomegranate seeds.  Toss with vinaigrette.


Acorn Squash Rigatoni with Crispy Garlic Sage and Brown Butter Bread Crumb Topping

1 whole acorn squash

12 sage leaves

2 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c Panko bread crumbs browned in 2 T melted butter  ( see how to make them here)

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

1 c light cream

1 c shredded gruyère

1/2 t hot pepper flakes

1 lb of rigatoni, cooked as per manufacturer’s instructions

1/2 c pecorino, shaved

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Cut squash in half and bake cut side up for 40 minutes until soft.  Let cool.  Seed and scoop out the flesh.  Yield should be about 3 cups.  Reserve.

In a medium sized pot, heat 2 T oil.  Add garlic and flash fry the sage leaves for a few seconds to crisp.  You want them to stay green.  Remove the sage leaves only and set on a paper towel until needed.  In the same pot, combine the squash purée with the salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes and stir into the same garlic and oil to season it.  Mix well.    Add 1 cup of cream and the gruyère and stir until the cheese is melted, to create a thick sauce.  Keep warm.

Place the hot drained pasta in a serving dish, pour on the sauce and toss to coat.  Top with the browned bread crumbs, the crispy fried sage leaves and curls of shaved pecorino cheese.  Serve immediately.


The mashed squash,  cream and gruyère:image

The assembled dish:image


Seasonal, satisfying sweet ending:  Individual Cranberry Apple Crumbles.  Recipe here.image

Happy fall entertaining!

20 thoughts on “EASY FALL MENU

  1. Johanne,This menu looks perfect for fall! I totally agree with the nesting instinct kicking in at this time. Love the individual cranberry apple crisps too! Spectacular photos!

  2. Beautiful fall dishes Johanne, loving them all. Isn’t this just such a beautiful time of year to celebrate warm toasty dishes like you’ve created? Happy Halloween 🙂

    • Hi Loretta! Are you back from England? I just returned from New Orleans where I had a fun trip with so much good eating! Happy to be back for the final leaf show. So gorgeous although nippy. This is a big night for us as my husband is known as the Candy Man….works in the business. Happy Halloween to you too!

      Johanne Lamarche


      • Hi Johanne, yes definitely back and here to stay. Just too much traveling in the past few months. I’ll bet New Orleans was great! It is always such a fun city. Ooooo, I hope you all had a spooky and fun Halloween. Unfortunately, after my kids left, I have not really participated. I do like the Fall and Harvest though – I guess I didn’t grow up celebrating Halloween, so I don’t really get into it. By the way, are you receiving my posts now? I know I posted a couple before I left, so can’t imagine why you aren’t receiving it either in an email format or on your Reader. Hmmmm, will have to sort that out in my head.

      • I found the Memphis post in my reader. It’s the first one to reappear. NO was fun. Only 3 days/2nights so we stayed in the city proper but got in lots of museums, great food and walked everywhere. Perfect weather too! I feel the same about Halloween but we are the IT house as my husband works for Mars. We had hundreds of kids and I did put out a few decorations about 5 minutes before the door bell rang! Just not the same without our own kids, I agree.

        Johanne Lamarche


  3. Pingback: Linguine With Lemon, Walnuts, Crispy Sage and Brown Butter Crumbs and 5 Other Fall Pasta Dishes | French Gardener Dishes

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