For some, the fall weather ushers in a renewed interest in the familiar flavors of comfort food. We love this change of seasons in the kitchen -- the warming sensation of autumn’s first squash soup reminds us of slipping on a cozy sweater -- but while we embrace that familiarity, we also welcome the opportunity to incorporate bold flavors with the heartier vegetables of the last few harvests. Here are some of our favorite ways to pack a flavorful fall punch for your palate.
When our CSA share includes a fennel bulb or two, we often turn our thoughts to porcine preparations. If we feel pigged out, we like to riff on this fennel salad recipe for a crunchier fennel bite, substituting apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice (we emphatically do not like citrus) and adding matchstick-sized slices of Granny Smith apples. It’s bracing and delicious.
Raw fennel also makes a great substitute for cabbage atop a spicy pork taco. Or try incorporating paper-thin slices across a layer in potato gratin.
Butternut squash will always be our true fall love. Perfect simply roasted with some salt, pepper, and olive oil, it’s also brilliant when accented with sage, parmesan and cream.
We’re also a fan of the butternut squash puree. If we serve it in place of apple sauce with pork chops, we like to keep it traditional with cinnamon and maple syrup, but add a dash of cayenne to warm our tummies. We add some serious kick to our butternut squash purees with a generous hit of spicy yellow curry powder -- perfect with a crisp-skinned, garlicky roast chicken.
Sauerkraut isn’t something we necessarily keep around (or remember to buy when we pick up the kielbasa for a mixed grill), plus, our CSA often bears bountiful quantities of many varieties of cabbage. We’ve come up with our own version of kraut that eliminates the fermentation but keeps the funky flavor. First, we soften shredded cabbage in a gentle saute, being careful not to add too much oil. Once this has been done, we add a healthy amount of apple cider vinegar to the pan, steaming the cabbage as the liquid cooks down. As the cabbage cooks, we grind some coriander over the pan to build on the cidery bite and brighten up the whole dish.
While we’ve always loved a good Caesar salad, it’s taken us a bit longer to come around on that farmer’s market staple, kale. What’s helped bring us around? Simply subbing one of the flat-leafed kale varieties for romaine and adding some toasted almonds (or walnuts, or pecans...) and a scant handful of dried cranberries.
Speaking of leafy greens, we have to admit that we have more work to do in accepting chard the way we have kale. The more garlic, the better for this one. Our favorite chard delivery method (or disgiuse?) is the sublime panade. This chard panade, from the Zuni Cafe cookbook, is one of the rare recipes we always follow to the letter. It’s perfect.