As the leaves begin to turn colors, and people pull their sweaters and coats out of storage, it can be hard to say goodbye to the long days of summer, filled with ripe fruits and vegetables from the garden. Fortunately, Mother Nature has planned well for this change in the season, and supplies tasty treats all through the fall season.
Winter squashes like pumpkin, butternut, Hubbard, acorn, and spaghetti are common fall staples. They are easiest to prepare when simply sliced open, rubbed with olive oil, and slow roasted in the oven. The warm flavor of a squash also pairs well with tomatoes, and can brighten up a black bean stew. When selecting a squash, look for a firm skin with no splits, and very few blemishes. These hefty fruits (because they carry their seeds inside) keep well when stored in a cool, dry location such as your pantry.
Why are apples associated with school and teachers? Because they both return in the fall! Apples of all varieties are available in the fall, from orchards, your own trees, or at the market. Smaller varieties like the green granny smith or the red Macintosh are great for cooking and baking, while the large, crisp, Red Delicious or Honeycrisp is a better snacking apple. Try using a cooking apple to accent your baked dishes this fall, such as with your winter squash, in addition to the usual pies, donuts and cider.
These tiny cabbage-like treats are often rejected as “yucky” – which they can be when overcooked. However, a small, fresh bunch of Brussels sprouts is delicious when sliced and sautéed in olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Add some honey and almonds when sautéing, and your sprouts will generate their own reputation!
Long relegated to the side of the salad bar as garnish, kale is making a comeback. Shredded green kale tastes delicious in when mixed with onions, tomatoes, and quinoa as a side dish. Choose bunches with smaller, darker leaves for the best flavor. For a quick snack, rinse the kale, pat dry with a paper towel, and tear into bite sized pieces. Mist with an olive oil spray, and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven on a very low temperature until crisp, and voila! Kale chips!
Fall Superfood Feast
Because all these foods are available in the same season, they complement each other. This delicious recipe will help you take advantage of the fall produce at your local market:
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of vegetable stock or water
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 firm, tart apples (Macintosh is great), cored, peeled and diced
1 can of white beans, rinsed and drained
Bunch of kale, rinsed, center rib removed, leaves chopped
Begin by preparing the quinoa according to the package directions, using the vegetable stock or water. While the quinoa is cooking, sauté the onion and butternut squash in a large pan with olive oil, till squash is softened and the onion translucent. Add the chopped apple, white beans, and kale, stirring to blend the flavors in the pan. Mix into a baking dish with the quinoa, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes to thoroughly heat the ingredients and allow the flavors to blend. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
These are just some of the wonderful foods available in the fall, and they can all be combined in many ways to make delicious and healthy meals for your family. For a sweet treat to finish the meal, try some figs – another fall fruit that is healthy, delicious, and works well alone or in recipes.
About the Author
This is a guest post by Lisa Vance. Lisa suggests visiting Chefs.com for information about food insight for the food enthusiast.