Seasonal Menu Plans: Spectacular September
"It was a beautiful, bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it." -- Diana Gabaldon
The rhythms of our lives are guided by the wisdom and beauty inherent in the ebb and flow of the seasons. As temperatures gently drop, the night sky expands swirling with midnight stars of startling clarity. Brisk frost meets earth cueing the miracle of foliage we love so well. Autumn delivers on the heady promises of spring and summer. She beckons us to peek into her astonishing basket of treasures in the raw. The autumn harvest is a time of celebration and feasting. One of the best ways to appreciate these gifts is to make maximum use of this bounty while it lasts!
What September Brings:
All seasons yield a variety of useful produce but none as plentiful as fall. The chefs at the Pot Pie Bar and Caroline's Fine Foods love September! The transition between the lighter fare of summer and the comfort foods of winter allows for a creative playfulness and experimentation! When planning autumn menus, we suggest you buy locally whenever possible through Farmer's Markets, Co-ops, etc. This not only supports farmers in your region, but allows you to purchase fresher goods with better flavor. Here is a list of some of the exciting possibilities that autumn brings: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide
Of special note, autumn offers the first fresh: parsnips, pumpkins, yams and sweet potatoes, winter squash, rutabagas, potatoes, cranberries and grapes of the year!
What to look for:
Sweet Potatoes and Yams: A true yam is brown in color with a bark-like skin and is closer to Yucca in flavor and texture. A sweet potato is generally smaller and rounder with a smoother reddish-brown skin and sweet flavor. Its flesh is creamy in texture. A white sweet potato (aka: "Batata" or "Cuban sweet potato") is a little less sweet and has a drier, more crumbly texture. Purple sweet potatoes (aka: "Japanese") are also less sweet and have a starchier texture. When choosing your yams, sweet potatoes or regular potatoes, look for smooth, firm, unbroken skins without cracks or dark spots. Sweet potatoes and tubers should be stored in a dry, cool environment with room for air to circulate around them. Paper bags, milk crates, ventilated cardboard boxes and mesh bags work well. Plastic does not. Remove any tubers that have gone soft to preserve the rest. Do not wash your tubers until you're ready to use them.
Root Vegetables: When purchasing rutabagas, jicama, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, parsnips, carrots or beets, you are looking for unblemished skins, unwilted greens and firm roots -- the harder the better. For beets: cut off the greens, brush off any loose soil and store in a bowl at room temp with a damp cloth over them. For carrots: remove the greens, wrap the carrots in a damp cloth and store in your crisper or the bottom shelf of your fridge. For radishes: remove the greens and any loose soil and store in a bowl with a damp cloth in the fridge. For turnips: cut tops off and store in the crisper or bottom shelf in a container with a damp cloth over them. For parsnips: remove greens, wrap in a damp cloth and store in the crisper.
Winter Squashes: When buying pumpkins, acorn, butternut, spaghetti, hubbard and other varietals of squash, you are looking for fruits that seem heavy for their size. Avoid squash that have soft spots, bruises, cracks or mold. Depending on the type, a well-chosen squash can last anywhere from 6 weeks to months if stored in a dark, cool, dry environment.
Some September suggestions to play with:
- Purple sweet potato gnocchi with garlic butter and sage
- Spaghetti squash pasta - (a grain-free/keto alternative to regular pasta.) Note: experiment with flavorful sauces
- Classic roasted root vegetables with thyme and extra virgin olive oil
- Radish chutney
- Marinated, herbed butternut squash and grilled Halloumi skewers