Here in the south, October is still summer but the markets like to think it is fall. So lots of squash, greens, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, apples and grapes are available. I have posted below several recipes that take advantage of the fall harvest.
If you have freezer space, this is also a good time to freeze some of fall’s abundance to use in the winter. Only use fruits and veggies in excellent condition that have been thoroughly cleaned. Most vegetables you plan to freeze should be blanched for two to five minutes. Blanching — the process of heating vegetables with boiling water or steam for a set amount of time, then immediately plunging them into cold or iced water — stops enzyme activity that causes vegetables to lose nutrients and change texture. The cooled veggies can then be packed into plastic freezer bags, jars or other freezer-safe storage containers.
Fruits or blanched vegetables can also be patted dry with clean kitchen towels, frozen in a single layer on cookie sheets and then put into containers. Using cookie sheets for freezing ensures that the fruits and vegetables won’t all stick together, so that you can remove a portion at a time from the container. Using this method is best for freezing berries. Berries should not be blanched, just washed and dried before freezing. Chopped onion and chopped bell peppers for cooking can also be frozen without blanching.
Here is a handy chart on how to blanch vegetables for freezing.
Mediterranean Tomato Salad
Serve this salad with grilled steak.
- 2-3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
- One large red onion slice, cut ¼ inch thick and quartered
- ½ cup oil cured olives, pitted and halved
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, oregano and black pepper.
Arrange the tomatoes on a serving plate and distribute the onion, olives and cheese over the tomatoes. Drizzle with the dressing.
Let the salad sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.
Fall Vegetable Minestrone
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 whole celery stalks with leaves, diced
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup whole-wheat orzo pasta
- Two 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced celery, onion, carrot, garlic, oregano and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Add orzo and green beans. Cook, uncovered, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and paprika.
Cook over medium heat until steaming-hot, 3 to 5 minutes.Taste and add salt to your liking.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with cheese,
Lemon Leek Spaghetti
This recipe is a great side dish for grilled or baked fish.
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 leek, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
- Salt & black pepper
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta, al dente, according to package directions. Drain.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, leek, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper; sauté 4 minutes.
Add broth and juice; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove the skillet from the heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter.
Add the pasta and capers to the leek mixture; toss well to combine and sprinkle with parsley and cheese.
Butternut Squash Gratin
Serve this dish with ribs or pork chops.
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 1 1/2-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish with 1 teaspoon of the oil.
Place the garlic and sliced leeks in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the squash and apple cubes on top of the leeks. Season with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula toss the mixture until evenly combined.
Cover the tightly with foil and bake until the squash is very tender, about 1 hour.
Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining oil, the lemon zest and parsley. Sprinkle over the squash and bake, uncovered, until the crumbs is golden, 15 minutes longer.