When the wealth of fresh produce from the summer is just a memory, fall provides its own ample crops for comforting and simple meals. Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Apples, and Pears are just to name a few. The availability of these fall vegetables and fruits provide us with so many opportunities to make great simple meals. For those of you who do not cook often this is a great time to start. Fall vegetables and fruits can be prepared in so many different ways, so experiment and have fun with it. One great thing is that it is relatively inexpensive, so if you don’t like what you have created it won’t cost you a fortune. Moreover, the best way to learn is through trial and error. Not only will you gain a better understanding of how to cook, but also how to get the most of the fall produce. Below you will find some of my ideas for cooking with fall fruits and vegetables as well as three of my own recipes for a salad, soup, and a desert using fall crops.
One of the most sought after fall fruits is the apple. There are so many different varieties and each has its own distinct qualities. Apples have the versatility to provide sweet and savory flavors to different dishes. In terms of savory, they go particularly well with pork and chicken. On the sweet side, baked apples are a tasty fall treat that everyone will love. Raw apples provide both the sweet flavor and texture that make apples so good in salads. See below for my Waldorf apple and walnut salad.
- 2 apples (Granny Smith, McIntosh or Red Rome) peeled, cored, and diced
- 4 stalks of celery diced
- ½ cup of mayonnaise
- ¼ cup of sour cream
- Juice from 1 lemon
- ½ cup of chopped and roasted walnuts (pecans may be substituted)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Fold in the apples, celery, and walnuts.
- Cover and chill 1 hour.
- Plate and serve alone or with grilled chicken breasts
Squash is another tasty vegetable available in the fall. There are so many different varieties and so many different ways to use them in recipes. Two of the most popular are butternut squash and acorn squash. These are favorites with kids because they have a sweeter flavor than other squashes such as Spaghetti squash. Additionally, Moms love them because they are packed with fiber, vitamins and healthy nutrients. One of my favorite ways to utilize squash is in soup. The squash lends a bit of sweet to a savory dish. See below for my favorite butternut squash soup recipe.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 4 stalks of leeks (onions may be substituted), rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons of good unsalted butter
- 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heavy cream to garnish
- Heat butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven pot at hi temperature.
- Once the butter foams add the leeks, garlic, carrots, celery, squash, salt, pepper and cook for 6-8 minutes or until vegetables become tender
- Add the stock and bring to a boil
- Lower the temperature and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste and turn off heat.
- Once cool, puree the soup in batches in a blender and return to the stove
- Warm the soup, ladle into separate bowls and garnish with a bit of heavy cream
Another delicious fall fruit is the pear. Similar to apples, you can buy many different varieties of pears and use them in different ways. Pears can be eaten raw in salads, baked with ginger and other spices, or even poached in wine. See my Sweet Pear Sauté recipe below for a simple way to enjoy fall pears.
Sweet Pear Sauté
- 2 pears (Bosc or Bartlett) peeled, cored, and sliced a ¼ inch thin
- 2 tablespoons of good French butter
- ¼ cup of sugar
- In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter until it begins to melt
- Immediately add the pears, sprinkle with half the sugar, and cook 1-2 minutes
- Turn pears over; add rest of sugar and cook for only 1-2 minutes more or until pears are golden brown in color
- Serve immediately on its own or serve it atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
As you can see, fall produce provides us with diverse crops that have the versatility to be prepared in many different ways so go out and try a new recipe with your fall vegetables. Who knows? Maybe you will create a new family favorite that you can look forward to year after year.