Despite my best efforts to cling to summer, autumn is on the horizon. Along with it comes a colorful bounty of fresh, cooler-weather produce. Check out this list of favorites that will be in-season soon, and some tasty ways to use them.
Sweet Potato. While practically all types of potatoes are in-season in the fall, these sweet spuds often steal the show. Not to be confused with yams, sweet potatoes come in a range of colors from deep orange to almost white. Pick smaller varieties, and store in a cool dark place prior to use. Sweet potatoes can be used in place of traditional potatoes in dishes like mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, hash, or baked fries. Because of their sweet, creamy flavor, sweet potatoes can also be used to make pie, or a fluffy mousse.
Kale. Along with other dark leafy greens like collards and mustard greens, kale loves to grow in cooler weather. In fact, when grown in cooler temperatures these greens have a surprisingly sweet flavor compared to those grown in the summer. To use, first remove the tough central stem, and rinse the leaves very well. Then use raw in salads or sandwiches, cook into soups and stews (perfect for chilly weather!), or bake into chips in the oven.
Pears. When fall comes around, many of us automatically reach for apples. The next time that craving for a sweet crunch hits, try one of apple’s distant cousins – the pear. Like apples, pears have an excellent shelf life, and actually get sweeter a few weeks off the tree. Slice them up in a salad, add to oatmeal, bake into pies and tarts, or simply wash and eat straight out of your hand!
Mushrooms. While available year-round, fall is when you will find the best variety and abundance of mushrooms. Popular varieties include the classic white button mushroom, cremini, Portobello, shiitake, and chanterelles. When possible, hand-pick loose mushrooms that are firm and dry, and store loosely in a paper bag. The dense cremini and Portobello work well as a substitute for meat in dishes like sauces, casseroles, and burgers. The shiitake adds a subtle savory flavor to stir fry, soups, and sauces. Or enjoy raw on a veggie platter or salad!
Cauliflower. As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, cauliflower will join broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage at your farmer’s market this fall. Keep an eye out for colorful orange, green, and purple varieties, in addition to the classic white cauliflower. Pick brightly colored heads with densely-packed florets. Because of its mild flavor, cauliflower is often eaten raw as a crudité or in salads. It can also be used in place of starches like potato, rice, and flour for a low-carb option.
If we can’t have eternal summer, at least we have some tasty eats to look forward to when cooler temperatures arrive. Watch for the arrival of these, and other fall favorites like apples, leeks, beets, and figs, coming soon!