Fall produce offers options to many dishes.

Fall produce – butternut, acorn, pumpkin and other winter squashes. Kale, brussel sprouts and other greens. Apples, pears and cranberries.

Need new ideas for cooking these wonderful old crops? Read on…

Apples and butternut squash cooked together make a delicious soup, with thyme, sage, or warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. A little blue cheese adds a unique flavor. Roasted squashes are sweet on their own, or pureed into a dip with garam masala and a little tahini. Add cubed roasted squash to a lasagna with a bechamel sauce and asiago cheese for a fall inspired dish.

Acorn squash is great baked with maple syrup, or stuffed with quinoa, feta, sunflower seeds and cranberries. Apples, sausage, currants and cornbread make a hearty filling too. Steam squash halves over boiling water or microwave whole (pierce well to avoid exploding gourds) for a tender option to baking. Cube squashes into your favorite stew recipes for color and antioxidants.

Spaghetti squash is a low carb alternative to pasta, and roasted pumpkin seeds are just a tasty benefit of the orange globe. Pumpkins are edible in savory or sweet recipes, adding vitamin A to your dishes. Think cake, bread, stews and risotto. A hollowed out pumpkin provides a festive serving bowl – just skip the Jack-o-Lantern cutouts.

Kale, collards and other greens can be bitter, pairing nicely with sweet raisins, apricots or roasted garlic. A touch of balsamic adds extra depth and a little tang. Add greens to soups, stews and even baked pasta dishes for an extra kick of calcium. If the bitter flavor turns you off, drop your greens in a boiling water bath for 1-2 mins, drain and saute to cut down the bitterness.

Apples or pears and cranberries are a natural pairing for applesauce, pie fillings, chutneys or strudels. Pears and pork are wonderful, cooked slowly with honey, broth and herbes de Provence. If you prefer, use thyme, cream and shallots.

Braise chicken or pork in apple cider or use to poach salmon. It is wonderful for basting your turkey, adding a sweet flavor to your Thanksgiving gravy.

Heat cider with cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel for a warming drink and homey room freshener.

Poach pears in simple syrup infused with lemon, orange or vanilla beans. Use red wine for a more dramatic presentation, adding orange peel, sugar, cinnamon stick and cardamom for more flavor. Bake apples filled with nuts and honey, orange zest, or an oatmeal raisin and brown sugar filling.

Sliced apple with a little peanut or almond butter is a quick energy snack, or chop an apple into cottage cheese with cinnamon and raisins for a great breakfast. Slice pears in a salad with blue cheese and pecans. Dip pear slices in chocolate for a decadent dessert or add moisture to a favorite spice cake recipe with chopped apples or pears.

Enjoy fall produce, eat local, and be creative! Good eating and happy holidays.

Advertisements

CSA delivery, Sept 16, 2011

September 21, 2011

Yes another trip to the farm for a bag full of fresh goodies! Today’s harvest included beets, more tomatoes of various shapes sizes and colors, poblanos, Diablo peppers, onions, jalapeno, corn, eggplant and a bell pepper. Sadly the summer crops are waning, the cool nights not conducive to flavor or growth, but the winter crops – squashes, cauliflower and more are not ready. So we will indulge ourselves in this last tomato harvest.

Today, I am making a Kamut (grain), flagelot (french bean) and tomato salad with a tarragon thyme vinaigrette and some green onions. this is truly one of the best things I have eaten in a long time. The tarragon, Dijon and tang of the vinegar was so good next to the nutty hints from the kamut. The flagelots offered a starchiness, while the fresh tomato was so bright next to these flavors. OK, without sounding too much like a food critic, this was really good!

I smoked corn over mesquite in my wok, resulting in the house smelling incredibly like bacon, to toss with black beans, a jalapeno, one of the onions and a little olive oil – smokey sweetness, starchy black beans and the kick of the pepper – a new favorite salsa/side dish.
We had a herbed goat cheese stuffed shrimp with a fresh tomato sauce. Creamy cheese, acidic tomatoes and sweet shrimp were decadent together.  Eggplants are going in Indian eggplant and potato stew loaded with spices. The beets – perhaps I will try pickling them, or just roast them to enjoy as is. I am the only one eating them, so my choice! The rest of the jalapenos are going to be stuffed with goat cheese, corn and green onions, topped with a grilled pepper and tomato sauce.

There really isn’t enough week in the week to eat all of these goodies, and my freezer is full! That doesn’t stop us from scarfing down everything as soon as it is done (sorry no pictures this week – guess we were extra hungry). I hope you are enjoying the last of the summer crops, perhaps starting to think apples and pumpkins, and trying new combinations too.

Bon Appetit!