Friday, October 5, 2012

What's in Season Now?

Pumpkins and apples, out in an orchard near Syracuse, NY
Autumn is such a wonderful time of year - crisp weather and there is loads of wonderful produce everywhere. Most of these are available all year, but are at their best in the fall. Apples are freshly picked, not pulled out of storage. Greens, such as kale and collards, are at their sweetest after a touch of frost. Here's a list of great produce now in season and some recipes to help you cook them. Check back in to the blog, because we'll be posting more great fall recipes.

Winter squash: In my supermarket, winter squash is currently displayed in giant bins. That's a lot of squash! There are many varieties, but two of our favorites are acorn squash and butternut squash. Both come in size that a single person can handle. Acorn squash has ridges which make peeling it a royal pain. Don't even try. Microwave them instead and then it is easy to scoop out the cooked flesh. You'll find an easy recipe for acorn squash at the end of this post. Butternut squash is another favorite because it is easy to peel. That makes butternut squash one of the best for roasting. You can learn all about roasting vegetables, including winter squash, in this article we wrote earlier this year.

Sauteed Kale with Asian Pear

Greens: It's true - greens are better in the fall. Extremely cold hardy, they not only thrive in cold temperatures, they produce more sugar. If you are afraid they will be bitter, this is the time of year to give them a try. Try our basic sauteed kale. You can use other greens such as collards or mustard but you'll need to cook them longer. And, kale is the sweetest of the bunch, making it a good "starter" dark leafy green for most folks.

Apples: The most popular fruit of fall in the US. Currently, apples are selling for 49¢ a pound in one of my local markets. Now, that's cheap! There are endless varieties. Need help figuring out which one to use? Check out this post on the most popular ones in US markets. And, we recently posted a recipe for a delicious yet simple apple crumble.

Orange-Pecan Acorn Squash
(serves 4, costs $1.50)

Unlike many recipes for baked acorn squash, this one depends on the natural sweetness of orange juice and pecans.

1 1-pound acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded (see Note)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons orange juice
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ teaspoon salt

Place acorn squash halves in a microwavable container. Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes.

Combine butter, orange juice, pecans, and salt in a 2 cup microwavable measuring cup. Cover tightly and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.

Using a soup spoon, scoop out flesh from the acorn squash into a serving bowl. Pour over pecan mixture and serve.

Note: Winter squash can be difficult to cut in half because of its tough skin. You can soften the skin by microwaving it for a minute. The best tool for removing the seeds from squash is a soup spoon.

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