Just because the temperatures are going down doesn’t mean our local chefs have turned down their efforts to devise delicious dishes for their loyal patrons. For many chefs, fall is the most exciting time of year to be cooking. There are a host of tasty seasonal ingredients like winter squash, figs, truffles, and mushrooms to cook with, and chefs have more liberty to make dishes heartier and richer. Here are some of this fall’s best dishes.
Everything that John Melfi makes is decadent, but his arancini wins the prize for the ultimate in indulgence. Bite-sized spheres of risotto are stuffed with mozzarella and fried, then mounted onto a puddle of nutty piquillo pepper romenesco and adorned with a delicate shard of burgundy back truffle. As Chef Melfi accurately puts it, this is the Cadillac of all arancini. Beautifully crunchy, lusciously cheesy and deeply earthy, you will want to eat 100 of these dreamy nuggets.
Shouk’s Veggie Burger
Made with black beans, chickpeas and lentils, as well as a trio of fall vegetables, cauliflower, beets, and mushrooms, these veggie burgers are not only the heartiest, but also the healthiest in town. Shouk recently began selling these burgers frozen, so you no longer have eat your burger right away. Keep them in the freezer for whenever you need a pick-me-up dinner. The ones served at Shouk come in a pita, but you can serve them on a bun at home. Condiments are optional – these burgers are so flavorful and tasty you don’t even need ketchup!
La Casita’s Ayote Pupusa
I have to admit, I have a pupusa obsession. I love the thick Salvadoran griddle cakes, oozing with cheese and the earthy aroma of masa. At La Casita, they offer ones stuffed with melted cheese and ayote, which is winter squash originating from Mexico. The squash is a little sweet, like pumpkin or butternut squash, the perfect contrast to the uber savory melted cheese. Top the pupusa with salsa and curtido, which is fermented cabbage salad, for a bit of crunch and acid, and you will be in culinary heaven.
Bombay Street Food’s Dal Makhani
Indians eat many different kinds of lentils. Yellow lentils, black lentils, green lentils, you name it. The lentils are used to make different kinds of dal. One of my favorites is dal makhani, and Bombay Street Food makes a particularly authentic version. Traditional dal makhani is made with whole black lentils that are slow cooked with spices like cumin, paprika, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, and then blended with butter and heavy cream. The result is deeply aromatic, warm daal that is perfect for chilly fall nights. Spoon it over rice or use your favorite naan as a vessel to mop up all the rich gravy.
Fare Well’s Charcuterie Board
You may not believe it, but there is such a thing as a vegan charcuterie board and it is available here in D.C., at H street’s Fare Well. Featuring four different kinds of vegan cheeses and charcuterie, you will sample everything from silky cashew almond cheddar to an herb covered goat cheese style cheese. The charcuterie is meaty and dense, despite being made with lentils. Served with rosemary crackers that smell like pine trees and a seasonal fig jam, this charcuterie board is the perfect accompaniment to a glass of red wine by the fire.