Although summer may be over, the farm stand lives on. Squashes in countless shapes and colors, bunches of hearty winter greens, baskets of aromatic apples and pears and piles of jewel-toned grapes create a traffic-stopping tableau. Yes, it's sad to see summer go, but these fall-time fruits and vegetables dramatically ease the pain.
If any one food really represents autumn, it is the apple. When eaten out-of-hand, a fresh apple has the snap and spiciness of a September morning, and the aroma of an apple baking with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice is fall personified. Apples vary by region, but some of our fall favorites are the Jonathan, Macoun, Cortland, Jonagold, McIntosh and Winesap. Keep in mind there are apples for baking and apples for eating. Ask your farmer for advice, or better yet, a taste.
- 10 Minute Apple Sauce
- Grilled Smoked Sausage with Apple Fennel "Sauerkraut"
- Roast Loin of Pork with Baked Apples and Cider Gravy
These hard skinned beauties can be whimsically shaped (Blue Hubbard) classically proportioned (Acorn or Buttercup) and even shaped like Cinderella's carriage (Rouge Vif d'Etampes). Squashes vary in color, texture (velvety to stringy) and sweetness try different ones to figure out your favorites. Winter squashes are excellent braised, roasted, pureed or just left on the table as a decoration.
- Butternut Squash Tortellini with Brown Butter Sauce
- Orange-Glazed Grilled Acorn Squash
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Amaretti Cookies
These underground vegetables have hearty tastes and meaty textures that are truly satisfying in the cooler temperatures. Carrots, beets and parsnips are naturally sweet and caramelize beautifully when roasted, while turnips, rutabagas and celeriac add a welcome earthiness to dishes. Root vegetables in a stew or soup can easily carry the entire meal by themselves, but when paired with a roasted pork or chicken, they're exquisite. A little tip: Wait until after the first frost before you buy a parsnip the cold snaps them into sweetness.
Kales, cabbages, collards and other cold-weather leafy greens are a nutrient-rich addition to your fall meals. Serve peppery broccoli rabe or mustard greens over pasta or polenta; steam and sauté the mellower chards and spinach in olive oil/garlic/red pepper flakes, and give cabbage and Brussels sprouts a turn in the pan with a little bacon or pancetta. These flavorful and robust greens can hold their weight against any of the heartier fall foods you might throw at them.
These tasty tubers come in an array of options, ranging in size from the diminutive fingerling to the 12-ounce Russets, and in color from the purple-hued Peruvians to cranberry red and the increasingly ubiquitous Yukon Golds. Like the supermarket potatoes, some are waxy and some are starchy, making them better suited to different tasks. But when in doubt, simply roast them with some olive oil, coarse salt, fresh rosemary and garlic cloves and you can't go wrong.
- Perfect Fingerling Potatoes
- Pan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Crispy Bacon and Fried Sage
- Purple Potato Salad
Pears are a timeless classic; the tried and true varieties Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Forelle, Seckel and Comice have been around for over 150 years. Comice is the gold standard for eating out-of-hand, Bosc is best for cooking, Anjou and Bartletts are great all-purpose fruits. Pears are always picked hard and allowed to ripen off the tree. Color is never a good indication of ripeness you can tell if a pear is ready for eating when it's just beginning to soften on the neck.
- Bosc Pears Poached in Red Wine Caramel
- Pear Brown Betty
- Gorgonzola-Stuffed Pears with Sauternes Drizzle
When the first table grapes show up at the farm stand, you know summer is truly winding down. Expect to get big flavor (and often some seeds) from your locally grown varieties. The main contenders are Concord, Niagra and Champagne grapes, but you might also see Canadice, Catawba, Caco and a bunch of others. And if they're described as "foxy" (an odd descriptor used for grapes), it just means they're especially grapelike (think Welch's grape jelly).