Get excited for savory dishes with these stars.

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It is sometimes hard to think about fall cooking in the middle of summer, but now is actually the best time to stock up on some foods to prepare to make amazing dishes all autumn long. Whether it is using the abundant summer produce to make some things to stash in the freezer or pantry, or just anticipating what you are going to need when fall rolls around, there are five things I'm loading in right now before the first leaves turn.

Onions
Credit: Getty / gcammino

Tropea onions

These long, torpedo shaped red onions are just starting to hit the farmers markets, and once they land, I go in hard. Slightly sweeter than traditional red onions, they are amazing for everything from pickled onions to onion jam that I can preserve in jars, to batches of caramelized onions I can stash in the freezer. I will even go in on curing them for long storage to use all fall and winter.

Garlic scapes 

I weirdly prefer this farmers market find when I have made them into puree and stored in the freezer to add oomph to sauces, stews, and dressings rather than using them fresh. I blanch quickly just to slightly cook, then puree with a little neutral oil, and freeze in an ice cube tray. Thawed, these nuggets provide verdant garlic flavor that is a welcome bit of subtlety when the weather turns. Especially great to make a new take on garlic bread when lasagna season lands.

Shelling beans

Cooking fresh shelling beans is a completely different thing than dried beans. The flavor is fresh, the texture is beautifully creamy, and the cooking time is a fraction of the time needed for dried beans. Nothing really compares. So, when they hit the markets, I shell until my fingers are tired, and make batches of both plain and seasoned beans to store in the freezer. I'll make some with roasted poblanos and cumin to use for tacos, and some with just aromatics and herbs to use in soups and stews. I'll pack them in quart-sized bags to thaw for easy meals all fall long when you want the heartiness of beans but are missing the special flavor that fresh ones provide.

Fresh dried herbs and spices

End of summer is when I do my annual spice replenishment. Because dried herbs and spices lose potency as they sit and fall cooking cries out for deep rich intensity of flavors, I like to take this time to discard my old spices and herbs, and load in new ones to amplify my cooking all fall and winter long. I'll go deep on both ground spices like cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg for both baking and savory cooking, fragrant seeds like cumin and fennel, as well as a variety of chili peppers for fruity and floral heat. The dried herbs I lean on most often? Thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano.

Grains

Fall cooking for me immediately goes to a heartier place, and I want things with nutty flavors and good chew and texture. Inevitably, the first fall cooking magazines hit the newsstands and there is some amazing looking recipe for barley risotto or freekeh pilaf and the stores empty their shelves faster than you can say carbs rule. So, I think ahead and buy some of my favorite grains now, so that my pantry is ready for any grain bowl, salad, or soup. Think beyond your usual grains: explore things like buckwheat groats, wheat berries, or unique rices like black rice or bamboo rice.