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Cooking for One: Fall Produce

As the dog days of summer come to an end and the air becomes crisp, it’s time for some great fall produce. Hard squash, leafy greens, cauliflower and fruits like apples, pears and pomegranates begin appearing in our stores and on our plates, and there are many ways to enjoy this bounty — even if you’re cooking for one person. Like a lot of people, to me fall means hearty stews and soups. But when cooking for one, you’ll be eating that stew for days to come, or freezing over half of it for later, so it’s nice to find some great ways to make use of fall produce that won’t result in squash overload. Cauliflower is in abundance this time of year, and one of my favorite ways to prepare it is roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. Check to see if there is pre-cut cauliflower available in your produce department or on the salad bar, then get just what you need and take it home to roast! If you’re choosing pre-cut veggies from the salad bar, just add some chickpeas and sliced green olives to your cauliflower for a healthy meal that gives you loads of fiber and protein. Looking for a sweeter, more exotic touch? Substitute raisins for the olives and maybe add a dash of curry powder. Leafy greens are a healthy, tasty addition to any dish. Throw a handful of spinach into hot pasta for some fiber and iron, or sauté some Swiss chard and sliced mushrooms to add into an omelet. You can find bulk greens in most produce departments, which makes it easy to buy just what you need for your meal. Here are some other ideas to try:
  • Slice a Honeycrisp apple and toss with some balsamic vinaigrette, spinach, crumbled blue cheese and toasted nuts for a wonderful salad. Substitute sliced figs and goat cheese for the apple and blue cheese for a different twist.
  • Halve an acorn squash, dispose of the seeds in the middle, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast, skin side down, for about 20 minutes at 400°F (or until desired doneness), flip to cut side up and pop under the broiler for about 3 minutes to create a nice crust. Finish by filling with sautéed shrimp for a complete meal, or keep it by itself as a side.
  • Dice a sweet potato and finely chop some fresh rosemary, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400°F until golden brown and tender.
  • From the salad bar, toss some cooked quinoa, pomegranate seeds and slivered almonds along with a sprinkle of your favorite seasoning (I like Bragg’s Amino Acids or white balsamic vinegar) for a very different, and delicious, taste.
Now that I’ve given you some ideas for cooking for one with fall produce, what’s your favorite way to enjoy the bounty of fall on your plate?