Autumn produce has inspired me lately in the dinner department, but while describing it to someone recently I realized how formulaic my epic-looking dinners are.

They are just a grain (or grain-type) base, with roasted, grilled or sautéed vegetables, and a complementary sauce. And when you think about it, many of our go-to dinners are the exact same thing. Spaghetti? Yep, the noodles are the grain and the sauce also stands in as the vegetable, although some folks may up the veggie content by adding more, or others add meatballs or meat to the sauce.

Take for example, Friday’s afternoon lunch while I had the glorious opportunity to work from home for the day while waiting for a serviceperson.
parmesan grits with pesto roasted brussels sprouts

The base is comprised of garlic spiced Congaree Milling Co. grits with Parmesan cheese stirred in at the end. While that cooked, I chopped and sautéed the Brussels sprouts. When they were browned on the outside I removed them from the heat and tossed them in a recently made pesto sauce. For serving, to add a little crunch and let’s be honest, a little more Instagram flair, I topped them with toasted pine nuts that were browning in a smaller pan while the sprouts were cooking. And that’s it, an impressive and tasty meal that can be scaled up for several or scaled perfectly for a lunch for one.

Some of my other recent creations are below.

pumpkin risotto with toasted pumpkin seeds and pesto

Pumpkin risotto with pesto and toasted pumpkin seeds, topped with arugula

pasta with a pesto gouda sauce and asparagus

Farfalle pasta with a Trader Joe’s pesto gouda cheese béchamel sauce, topped with arugula and a side of sautéed asparagus

pasta with pumpkin tomato sauce, marscapone cheese, and city roots microgreens

Farfalle pasta with pumpkin-tomato sauce, marscapone cheese, topped with City Roots microgreens

Even Motor Supply Company in Columbia, SC follows this formula with (of course) amazing results.

farro with tomatoes and arugula from motor supply company, columbia, sc

The best part other than the amazing taste of these is how easy they are to prepare, how few dishes it takes, and that most of them are easy to reheat the next day in the office microwave if you make a double batch.