Just For Fun

Foods of Fall

Fall is my favorite food time of the year because it means three things are coming into season: root vegetables, pumpkin flavored everything, and football. Nothing makes me feel better than sweaters, boots, and pumpkin lattes. It’s the time of the year when you get to feel warm on the inside because of what you eat, not because of the sun. Here’s a rundown of my favorite foods, a brief introduction of how to cook them, and a preview of what’s to come for the next few months of recipes.

Root vegetables are here and create hearty, warming dishes. They are a fibrous substitute for grains, and can be helpful in evening out all of the sweets that also come into season. Roasting and baking root vegetables brings out a lot of their natural sweet flavors. Root vegetables include turnips, sweet potatoes, squashes, pumpkins, and gourds. Depending on what climate you live in, these vegetables should start to make an appearance in markets in late September and stay seasonal through the end of November.

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The Scoop On Squash (and gourds and pumpkins)

            Squashes and their close relatives are the perfect substitution for grains in a meal. They are very filling for even the hungriest athlete
and add wonderful yellows and oranges to your meals. They can be prepared with savory and sweet flavor profiles, and even can be used for dessert! A great combination is to roast any of the sweet/savory squashes with cinnamon, salt, a little bit of cayenne, and honey or brown sugar. Squashes and gourds make a great addition to stews and chili as well. Here is a small sample of what you can find in the markets this time of year and how they are best prepared:

Squash

Best Cooking Methods

Edible Skin

Easy Dishes

Butternut squash

Roasting, stewing, pureeing

No

Soups, roasts

Sweet or savory mix-in

Chayote squash

Sauteing, roasting

Yes

Sauteed side dish

Delicata squash

Roasting, sauteing

Yes

Quick side dish, savory w/ fragrant herbs

Pumpkins

Roasting, baking, pureeing

No

Pasta sauce, savory sides, pureed desserts.

Sweet potatoes

Roasting, mashing

Yes

Roasted side dish, sweet mash, dessert pies/tarts

 

Festive Greens 
          The light and summery salads might be fading out of style this time of the year, but that is no excuse not to eat your greens! Brussels sprouts, swiss chard, and broccoli are great for savory side dishes, the base of salads, and can even be pureed to make pestos and sauces. Brussels sprouts have made a big comeback and there are tons of recipes and variations online. You may have seen my recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts, Raisins, and Parmesan from last year. It’s salty and sweet, and believe it or not, the most viewed page on my website so far. I’ll have plenty more variations coming soon, but they are prepared simply by cutting them in half and roasting them with olive oil, salt, and pepper (for 15- 20 minutes at 400 degrees).
          Swiss chard is a quick fix when steamed or sauteed (remove the center rib for a softer texture. It can also be steamed and made into pesto. Adventure into artichokes as an appetizer or side dish. Broccoli can be steamed in the same bla bla way it’s always made, or it can be roasted with cauliflower (bonus if you find romanesco cauliflower!) for a seriously appealing crunchy texture. Roast at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. You can drizzle it with sesame oil and top with sesame seeds for a nice Asian-inspired side dish.
Fruits
          Immediately, I think of apples. Apple pie, apple galettes, homemade apple cider. Yum! Adventure out this fall and go to a pick-your-own apple orchard. You’ll support a local farm and have an outdoor experience in the process. I dragged my kicking and crying fiance this spring to go blueberry picking and he’s the one looking to go apple picking already! It is so much fun. I challenge you to go outside the apple box this fall, and try things like pears, plums, and persimmons. I made a Roasted Chicken with Thyme and Persimmons last year that was a crowd pleaser with Ryan’s friends. Persimmons are tough and a somewhat mealy orange fruit. When you cook them down they become soft and chewy, almost like an apricot. They pair well with sweet and savory dishes. I already have a savory dish in mind with apples, goat cheese, and tarragon. I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen when the season ends!
No matter what you decide to cook up this fall, stay tuned in to your local farmers’ markets. Heirloom varieties of squash, apples, and vegetables will add new foods to your diet and expand your fall repertoire. I look forward to sharing great new recipes with you!
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