Armloads of seasonal produce from the farmer’s market are the inspiration for this make-ahead menu. When fall’s first cool snap leaves you craving warming comfort foods, put your favorite opera or symphony on the stereo and enjoy an afternoon at the hearth.
Bruschetta with Red Pepper Purée and Toasted Walnuts
This easy starter also makes a wonderful lunch or light dinner, served with an arugula salad and a glass of Chianti Riserva. You can roast, peel and seed the peppers up to a week in advance and pack them in a jar with olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then drain oil and proceed as the recipe directs. Use leftover purée to dress up pasta, baked potatoes or sandwiches.
Autumn Mushroom Stew with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
Depth of flavor is the hallmark of any good stew, and this woodsy mushroom mélange is no exception. Leftover stew—if there is any—is delicious ladled over fettuccine or added to lentil soup or vegetarian chili. To sip? Pour a medium-bodied Rosso di Montalcino or, if the weather’s frightful, serve a robust Barolo.
Sautéed Pears with Vanilla Whipped Cream
This fast, not-too-sweet dessert takes advantage of the abundant harvest of Anjou and Bartlett pears. Although this dish is best made just before serving, the pears can be prepared a day in advance and reheated in a skillet with a little butter. Serve the pears warm with a cool glass of late-harvest Gewürztraminer.