If you haven’t visited your local farmer’s market in a while, now is the time! Seasonal produce is one notable characteristic of what makes the fall season so fantastic. Pumpkin and apples are just two foods that are most commonly celebrated at this time of year, but lest we forget about the abundance of delicious greens like lettuce and cabbage or the colored variety of squash.
Why is it so important to shop seasonally? Purchasing produce at its peak guarantees the freshest taste with the greatest nutritional value and at the most affordable price. What to buy? Carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, and green onions are just a few popular produce items that should be enjoyed in the harvest season. How to cook? Season your fall-fresh veggies using autumnal spices and seasonings like cloves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and ginger. Bake them to create a warm and cozy side dish, soup or to compliment a pasta.
Whether you are preparing dinner at home for the family or hosting a fabulous party with friends, there are so many simple and healthy ways to take advantage of the warm, comforting flavors of fall produce.
Take a closer look at some of those estranged seasonal newcomers that we’re not used to picking from the farmer’s table.
Nutritionally, beets are wonderful anti-oxidants (you can tell by their bright magenta color!) that are high in iron and heart healthy fiber. They are also versatile as an ingredient. Steam or serve raw with fresh ginger or to compliment nut-flavored vegetables like brussel sprouts or kale.
Believe it or not, cauliflower is incredibly rich in Vitamin C, making it another powerful antioxidant to incorporate into your diet. Look for a compact, creamy white curd bushel for the best quality. You can steam cauliflower to retain most of its nutrient profile, but roasting it with cumin and olive oil is also a healthy, tasty alternative!
Kale is a nutritional super food, chock full of vitamins and minerals! It can be cooked similarly to spinach or collard greens. Steaming retains its rich nutrient profile, but it may also be boiled. Serve it as a side dish with pine nuts and a lemon vinaigrette or add it to boost the protein count of a pasta or rice-based entrée.
Last, but certainly not least, is the infamous squash. Squash comes in a plethora of varieties. During the fall season, butternut, delicata, pumpkin and spaghetti are the ones to choose for creating that flavorful autumn meal. In addition to its notably toasty and rich flavor, squash is a great alternative to starch in recipes. Try roasting slices (skin-on!) of delicata squash or have your hand at making spaghetti squash into a low-calorie, nutrient-rich pasta dish.
New to Spaghetti Squash?
You can choose one of two ways to prepare the delectable vegetable. First, cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the pulp and seeds. If you are pressed for time, place spaghetti squash halves open face up in a pan with a small amount of water (about ¼ cup) for 10 minutes.
You could also opt to bake the spaghetti squash. Cut in half lengthwise, place halves open face up in a pan and cook for 30-40 minutes at 375°F. When your squash is finished cooking, use a fork to remove its spaghetti-like strands.
Recipe for Mediterranean Medley over Spaghetti Squash
Serves 8-10 portions
- 1 whole Spaghetti Squash
- 1 cup Kale, chopped
- ½ cup Basil, chopped
- 1 Eggplant, cubed
- 2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small Red Onion, sliced
- ¼ cup Black Olives, pitted
- 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- ¼ cup Raw Almonds, ground
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Bake open-face spaghetti squash for 30-40 minutes at 375°F.
While your squash is cooking, sautee the kale, garlic, red onions and eggplant cubes in a pan in light olive oil over low-medium heat.
Toss the vegetables until the eggplant begins to soften.
Add the tomatoes and basil into the pan. Sautee the vegetables a bit longer to soften the tomatoes and obtain some of the basil’s fragrance and flavor.
When the squash has finished baking, remove the spaghetti strands using a fork.
Pour your vegetable medley over your spaghetti squash.
Top off your dish with black olives, ground almonds and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy your healthy, Mediterranean medley!