It's not time to go back to the supermarket yet! Enjoy the wonderful late fall produce that is still available.
As the weather cools and the selection of produce at the local farmers’ market dwindles, it can be tempting to pack away the tote bags and head for the supermarket where there’s a broader selection of familiar produce. Don’t do it yet! There are many wonderful vegetables to enjoy throughout the late fall – ones that are less well known than summer’s fabulous, leafy abundance, but just as delicious and nutritious.
When I first signed up for a winter CSA (community-supported agriculture) share, it was challenging to figure out how to incorporate fall vegetables into my diet on a daily basis. Now I’ve grown to love them and have learned to use them in a variety of ways. Here are some of my favorite fall vegetables and ideas for how to use them.
Kohlrabi is a strange, alien-looking vegetable if you’re not used to it, especially the giant ones I’ve been getting from the CSA share. They’re the size of a cantaloupe. Once peeled, kohlrabi is like a seedless, firmer version of cucumber. You can eat it raw, grated into coleslaws and salads or cut into sticks for dipping, or chop and add to any soups or stews that call for potatoes or celery. It’s delicious in fried rice and curry.
Don’t be intimidated by celeriac’s knobby exterior! Also known as celery root, celeriac has a mild celery-like taste that does not overwhelm. You can peel and dice, then add to mashed potatoes for extra depth of flavor; roast with olive oil and salt to eat plain or mix with other roasted root vegetables for a salad; make into a soup with diced apples, potatoes, squash, or lentils. The sky’s the limit with this versatile vegetable.
Fresh local squash has an entirely different taste than imported varieties. It’s so delicious that even my kids, who usually complain about squash, gobble it up. Roast in thin slices, or bake in halves to mash. Eat it plain or use as a topping for shepherd’s pie. Squash can be made into a wonderful curry served over rice and rich, velvety soup. Add it diced to grain-based salads.
When you don’t want to buy imported lettuce in order to get your greens fix, kale is the way to go. It is delicious sautéed with garlic and olive oil, and also roasted in the oven or turned into kale chips. (Be aware that it shrinks tremendously!) Add it, chopped, to vegetable or bean soups and stews.
Both of the crisper drawers in my fridge are full of carrots right now; my family can hardly keep up! Fresh carrots are wonderful eaten raw. Keep some hummus or baba ghanouj on hand for dipping. I’ve also discovered glazed carrots, olive oil-braised carrots, and roasted carrots. They’re great cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, and cumin in a saucepan; eaten raw in salad form; and, of course, there’s the eternally irresistible carrot cake.
Onions deserve a prominent role in cooking. They’re usually relegated to the role of underdog, but really deserve much more attention. Onions are delicious caramelized, which can then be used in many ways – soups, pizza and bruschetta toppings, omelet and sandwich filling, added to quiches. You can roast onion slices along with other root vegetables, or braise in a layer of olive oil with herbs in the oven.