10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes

10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes

Whenever fall rolls around, I start craving heartier meals made with flavors of the season: Squash, brussels, sweet potatoes, etc. Don’t you? And yes, I absolutely love pumpkin spice and apple everything – what I don’t love is the packaging it’s marketed in. Whenever I head to Trader Joes, I love all the seasonal stuff they have – but oh my goodness, the packaging kills me. The truth is, as much as I adore pumpkin spice, you can easily make your own pumpkin spice at home. Plus, there are so many other ways to honor the fall season in your flavor palate than just apples and pumpkin everything. Fall is an abundant season filled with tons of produce we should be utilizing. If you’re craving a hearty fall meal, or a few fall treats, you can absolutely make them at home, waste free. Here are 10 zero waste fall recipes that will have you salivating.

This is a guest post written by Sydney Montagna, a zero waste advocate and aspiring writer. 

10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes

10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes

What’s in season?

First, before we dive into the recipes, it’s important to know all the fall produce that’s available for the picking – not just apples and pumpkins. Check out this impressive list:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • String beans
  • Swiss chard
  • Beets
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Bell peppers
  • Kabocha squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Parsnips

* Please note that depending on the region you live in, the weather, and the farmers, this seasonal produce list may vary. It all depends on various factors – like if your local farmers decided to grow something or not, or if your state’s climate is hospitable to a particular plant.

How can I make my Fall recipe zero waste?

My number one tip is to be easy on yourself. If you can’t make a recipe completely zero waste, that’s completely fine! Your goal should include being as low-waste as possible, and there’s plenty of ways to do that.

  • Purchase any fruits and veggies from your local farmer’s market. It’s always important to support your local farmers who provide us with fresh food. If you don’t have a market near you, then check your local grocery store- just be sure you bring your own produce bag and buy your fruits and veggies plastic-free.
  • Buy in bulk! Purchasing foods like herbs, tea, beans, sugar and spices in bulk is a cheap alternative to buying individually packaged products that are frequently in plastic. Try to bring your own bags or glass jars to your local bulk food store.
  • Make your own food. Sometimes a recipe will call for a food item that you just don’t have or can’t purchase sustainably. If possible, try making them yourself. For example, make your own almond milk, apple cider vinegar or pumpkin pie spice (see recipe #7).
  • Compost. If there’s any leftover food scraps, be sure to toss them in your compost bin so they’re properly disposed of. Each year, more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkin are dumped into American landfills! So please compost your pumpkin (and any other kitchen scraps you’re left with).

1. Butternut Squash Soup (Vegan)

There’s something so comforting about butternut squash soup, don’t you agree? It’s perfect for those cold fall days where you just want to stay inside and cozy up.

Ingredients:
  • 1 (3-pound) butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cubed)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon seat salt
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper and sauté until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Then add the squash and cook until it begins to soften, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, sage, rosemary, and ginger. Stir and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant, then add 3 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Let cool slightly and pour the soup into a blender, working in batches if necessary, and blend until smooth. If your soup is too thick, add up to 1 cup more broth and blend. Season to taste and serve with parsley, pepitas, and crusty bread.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: Since this recipe is 100% vegan, vegetable broth is used instead of any milk or nuts- if possible, use some leftovers veggies to make your own broth. Also, you should be able to find these vegetables at your local farmer’s market!

2. Carrot Top Pesto (Vegan)

Carrots aren’t just in season during spring – they’re also a fall veggie too! But way too often do we discard the carrot tops when we should be using them to cook with. After all, they’re edible too!

Ingredients:
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (about 1/2 of a lemon)
  • carrot tops from 1 large or 2 smaller bunches of carrots (yields 1 cup blanched)
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4 green onions fresh green parts only
  • ½ cup raw walnuts (optional)
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. To blanch the carrot tops: remove thick stem pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water in it. Once boiling, add the carrot tops to the pot. Stir occasionally, cooking for about 3 minutes or until bright green and tender. Immediately remove from the pot, drain the hot water, and add the carrot tops to the ice cube bowl to stop the cooking process.
  2. Drain the carrot tops, wring out excess liquid, and spread them on a plate to dry while you do the remaining recipe prep.
  3. Add all of the ingredients from garlic through walnuts (if using) to the food processor. Blend until a chunky paste forms with small bits of carrot tops. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to stop frequently to scrape down the sides. Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if desired.
  4. To use as a pasta sauce, cook your pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the reserved cooking water and carrot top pesto, stir to combine, and cook over low heat until warmed. Serve right away.
  5. Otherwise, once cooled to room temperature, store the pesto in the fridge in an airtight container for several days. The bright green color may fade to a slightly darker green, and this is totally normal.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe is a great way to use up your leftover carrot tops! You may be able to find all of these ingredients at your local bulk food store or farmer’s market. If not, then try purchasing them from your grocery store plastic-free. Whether that’s in a glass container or completely package free.

3. Seasonal Roasted Veggies (Vegan)

I’m in love with roasted veggies come fall – especially over rice or quinoa. And this recipe has all the very best fall produce in it! It’s perfect for cold fall days where having the oven on isn’t overbearing.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound (about 4 ½ cups) baby red potatoes, halved or quartered
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you may need a bit more)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 – 1 ½  inch chunks
  • 1 pound (about 1 ¼ cup) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ -inch thick slices
  • ½ pound (about 1 ½ cups) large Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and halved
  • 1 large red onion, halved and cut into thick 1-inch pieces
  • ¾ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¾ tablespoon dried CRUSHED rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Freshly cracked pepper and sea salt
  • Optional: fresh herbs (such as thyme or parsley) to garnish with
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grab a large (11×17-inch) or 2 smaller sheet pans and set aside. Prepare the veggies: peel the carrots and cut into large chunks (if they are thick do 1 inch chunks if they are thinner do 1-1/2 inch chunks), remove the outer leaves of the brussels and halve them, halve the baby red potatoes (quarter especially large ones), halve the red onion and cut into thick 1-inch pieces, peel the sweet potato(s) and cut into large 1 ½ inch chunks/slices.
  2. Place all the prepared vegetables in one even layer (do NOT overlap or you’ll steam the veggies instead of roasting them) on the prepared baking sheet(s) and add the oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste (I recommend ½ teaspoon sea salt and about ¾ teaspoon pepper). Then add the olive oil and toss well, evenly coating all the vegetables with the seasonings and oil. (Add 1-2 more tablespoons of oil if the vegetables seem dry.)
  3. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, flipping the veggies 20 minutes into baking time.
  4. Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately. 

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe calls for a lot of fresh veggies – most of which you can find at your local farmer’s market or purchase at the grocery store package-free. You can purchase the herbs, like oregano or thyme, in bulk if you have the option. Also, be sure to compost your food scraps.

4. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Vegan)

Carving a Jack ‘O Lantern this year? Save those pumpkin seeds for roasting! They make such a tasty treat and they’re quite healthy. I love them because they’re high in zinc – which helps fight acne!

Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika, optional
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177ºC).
  2. Wash pumpkin seeds in a colander to remove the pulp and fibers. Thoroughly dry with a towel.
  3. In a small bowl combine pumpkin seeds, olive oil, salt, garlic powder, paprika (if using), and black pepper.
  4. Lightly grease a sheet pan with olive oil. Evenly spread the seasoned pumpkin seeds on the sheet pan.
  5. Bake until the seeds are toasted and crunchy, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes for even toasting, and check for doneness with each stir by tasting a seed for crunchiness.
  6. Transfer the roasted pumpkin seeds to a bowl to cool down.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe is simple and easy to keep waste-free as most of the ingredients can be purchased in either bulk or glass bottles. Grab the pumpkin from a local farm or farmers market – you can use the rest of the pumpkin in a later recipe (see recipe #9, vegan pumpkin pie).

5. Farro-and-Acorn Squash Salad

This is a nice hearty salad that will help keep you full, and taste great. Not sure about you, but come fall, I really don’t crave as many lettuce-themed salads anymore, and this really hits the spot.

Ingredients:
  • 2 large acorn squash (about 1 ½ pounds each), halved, seeded, and sliced 3/4-inch-thick
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cup farro
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss together squash, thyme, and 2 tablespoons oil on two large rimmed baking sheets. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, rotating pans once, until golden brown and tender, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer squash to a cutting board and roughly chop. 
  2. Meanwhile, cook farro according to the package directions. Combine vinegar and shallots in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to shallot mixture and stir to combine. Fold in farro, squash, blue cheese, hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe isn’t vegan, but you can make it vegan by substituting the blue cheese with a vegan cheese of your choice- perhaps try making your own if you can.

6. Sweet Potato Hash (Vegan)

10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes
Source: WGBH

Looking for something simple but filling to eat in the morning? Try this vegan sweet potato hash. It’s delicious, simple, and oh so versatile.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole sweet potatoes, skin on
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Other seasonings of your choosing
  • Leftovers and add-ins
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Toppings of your choosing

Directions:

  1. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes with a fork. Cook together in the microwave for five minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1/3 cup olive oil in your cast iron skillet and add the onion. Sautee for 3-5 minutes until translucent.
  2. Remove the sweet potatoes from the microwave and dice them up, then add them to the skillet along with the salt, pepper, garlic salt, and other seasonings of your choosing. Cook for about 10 minutes, letting caramelization develop on the sweet potatoes and onions.
  3. Mix in your leftovers and add-ins and cook until heated. Serve with your favorite toppings.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe is quick to make and requires ingredients you can purchase at the farmer’s market or in bulk. Also, it’s highly recommended that you use a cast iron skillet when sautéing to avoid giving off toxic fumes while cooking.

7. Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice (Vegan)

Tempted to put pumpkin pie spice on everything? Just whip up this simple recipe. You can put it on or in anything until your heart is content!

Ingredients:
  • 2 teaspoon ginger
  • 3 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon allspice
Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in an air tight container. Jars work perfectly.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe encourages you to use a glass jar to store it once you’re finished. You can purchase all these spices in bulk.

8. Garlic Herb Butter

Garlic is in season right now and this is a delicious way to use it. This tastes fantastic on bread and would be a hit at any party during the fall. Or hey, just save it for yourself – we don’t judge.

Ingredients:
  •  2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  •  ½ teaspoon salt
Directions:

1. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and salt and beat for a couple of minutes, or until fluffy. Add the garlic and parsley, stir to combine well. Transfer the the garlic herb butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, roll up to form a cylinder shape. Twist both ends tight and keep it in the refrigerator. They are ready to use when the butter becomes cold and solid.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: Try to find butter that’s not in a plastic container, but rather in a compostable or easy to recycle wrapper. Can easily be made vegan by using vegan butter.

9. Vegan Pumpkin Pie

10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes
Source: Delish

The recipe you’ve all been waiting for – pumpkin pie. But with a twist – make it vegan and zero waste. You’ll never eat a more delicious and sustainable pumpkin pie after this one.

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 ½ cup pecans
  • 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoon coconut oil, melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 1 (13.5-oz.) can full fat coconut cream, refrigerated overnight (Taste Of Thai works best)
  • 3 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 9” pie plate with cooking spray. 
  2. In a food processor, add pecans, oats, sugar, and salt and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add coconut oil and pulse until well combined and dough starts to stick together. 
  3. Press mixture into prepared dish. Line crust with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Blind bake 15 minutes, then remove parchment and weights and bake 15 minutes more.
  4. Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together filling ingredients then pour over crust and bake until only slightly jiggly in the center, 50 to 55 minutes. Cover crust with foil if it starts to get too dark. Let cool completely.
  5. Make topping: Open can of coconut cream and scoop out hardened cream on top. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat coconut cream, powdered sugar, and salt together until stiff peaks form. 
  6. Serve pie with whipped coconut cream.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe is completely vegan and while it requires a lot of ingredients, you can purchase a lot of them in bulk. Maybe instead of using canned pumpkin, you can create your own pumpkin puree with a real pumpkin. Also, instead of using a conventional cooking spray, you can grease your pan with olive oil.

10. Cinnamon Apple Chips (Vegan)

10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes
Source: Delish

Recently went apple picking? Try these apple chips. They’re a delicious and healthy alternative to regular chips – plus a great way to use up excess apples!

Ingredients:
  • 2 apples, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Directions:

FOR OVEN

  1. Preheat oven to 200°. In a large bowl, toss apples with sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Place a metal rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Then lay apples slices on top of rack, spacing them so that no apples overlap.
  3. Next, bake for 2 to 3 hours, flipping apples halfway through, until apples dried out but still pliable. (Apples will continue to crisp while cooling.)

FOR AIR FRYER

  1. In a large bowl toss apples with cinnamon and sugar. Working in batches, place apples in a single layer in basket of air fryer (some overlap is okay). 
  2. Bake at 350° for about 12 minutes, flipping every 4 minutes.

See the full recipe here.

Keep it zero waste: This recipe is very simple and it’s easy to create no waste with this one. Just be sure to compost the apple core.

10 Zero Waste Fall Recipes

What are your favorite zero waste fall recipes?

If you’d like more recipes, check out this zero waste vegetable broth recipe.

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10 Zero Waste fall Recipes

Guest post: Sydney Montagna is an advocate for animals and plastic-free living. She is studying English and is an aspiring writer. In her spare time, you can find her watching classic TV shows and researching all things Michael Jackson related.

By Ariana Palmieri

Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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