There’s nothing more inspiring in the kitchen than fresh produce bursting with flavor. But all too often, unless I’ve made a recent trip to the market or harvested from my garden, these culinary gems are nowhere to be found when it’s time to put food on the table. That’s why I love this time of year! When the shelf-stable vegetables of autumn come around, I welcome the ease of getting fresh produce on the table with every meal. Here are some of my favorite hearty fall veggies and how I like to prepare them:
It’s always exciting to see winter squash make its come back every fall. Beautifully shaped and colored, I like to pile an assortment of these harbingers of cooler weather on my tables and counters. But these autumnal jewels aren’t just good looking, they are tremendously versatile and easy to use, plus they store wonderfully. With such a pleasing flavor, winter squash doesn’t need much added to it to be palate pleasing. Add some spices and miso to make this simple Mashed Butternut Squash and make sure you have the classic Butternut Squash Soup in your repertoire.
If you have some greens on hand, try Butternut Squash and Kale Salad. And don’t stop there! Thinly sliced squash makes a great stand in for noodles in lasagna, puréed squash is excellent in pies, cookies, and even cakes. In fact, squash can be stuffed, sliced, diced and puréed to suit just about any cuisine, taste or dish.
And remember, most varieties of squashes can be substituted for another. However, with its noodle-like strands, spaghetti squash is one exception. Learn to Cook: Spaghetti Squash and use it like your favorite pasta. I like to top this more nutrient-dense, gluten-free noodle with marinara sauce or pesto. Perfecto! When choosing squash, I want them to be solid and heavy, with hard, smooth skin, free of nicks or soft spots. And as much as I love my pumpkin, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squashes, I also love to explore the full range of options. Check out our winter squash guide for more inspiration.
Tubers and Roots
While I haven’t taken a shovel to my yard to dig a proper root cellar (yet), I still like to stock up on autumn’s roots and tubers. As varied and versatile as winter squash, lovely fall roots like beets, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, carrots and celeriac are wonderful to play with in the kitchen. Roasting is one of the best ways to accentuate their sweet earthy flavors. I like using an assortment of roots in thisbasic Roasted Root Vegetables recipe. And of course, soups are always a hit in my house. Carrot-Ginger Soup and Winter Vegetable Soup are two particular favorites. When I’m shopping for roots, I look for firm ones without blemishes or any dark or soft spots. Cut off and cook up any greens tops (add to a soup or sauté with other dark leafy greens) if you are lucky enough to get with your roots and store in your refrigerator.
Ah! The succulent sweet potato! Virtually perfect on its own, pierced and baked until tender, these lovely tubers also complement many dishes. Especially Good Sweet Potatoes are especially easy — try making the recipe with coconut milk! Other good recipes to try are Sweet Potatoes with Collards and Aduki Beans and Yellow Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup. Yum! Store your sweet potatoes at room temperature away from light and dampness, and eat lots of them! Stuck without any of these fabulous autumn favorites? Don’t forget the perennial dinner rescuer — frozen vegetables! A wonderful mainstay and an easy way to make sure you always have something green to add to your meal. Check out the amazingly simple and quick Vegetable Brown Rice with Feta Cheese.
How do you make sure you’ve always got vegetables on hand?