The days are cooler, the leaves are showing color, and the sun is setting earlier and earlier each day. Fall is upon us. The markets are overflowing with end-of-summer produce, often intensely ripe and ready to be cooked immediately. The first crops of apples, pears and root vegetables have also started to appear, along with seasonal fall treats such as wild mushrooms, chestnuts and winter squash.
To celebrate the harvest, we’re highlighting the best produce of the season and healthy recipes to try at home.
Depending on the weather, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and even summer squash and beans, can last well into the fall. But as soon as the weather turns cool and rains begin, those tomatoes and peppers need to be harvested and eaten right away. Otherwise, they may rot on the vine.
Recipe: To use up the last of the summer produce, try making Fall Harvest Minestrone.
Fall marks the first of the root vegetables. Colder evening temperatures cause the sugars to develop, giving beets and carrots extra sweetness and crunch. Celeriac, a cousin of celery, is an often overlooked root vegetable that adds a nutty, faint celery flavor to salads and slaws when grated, and it also makes a wonderful soup when roasted and pureed with a bit of chicken broth.
Recipe: To celebrate the first of the root vegetables, try a colorful, healthy Fall Harvest Slaw made with grated beets, carrots and celeriac and tossed with lemon vinaigrette, fresh tarragon and toasted walnuts.
The Northwest is home to some of the most beautiful (and unusual) mushrooms in the world. Foraged and Found Edibles harvests wild mushrooms across Washington and Oregon, offering an exquisite selection of dried mushrooms and, during the fall and spring, locally foraged varieties at local markets. While the classic French mushroom preparation is to sauté in butter, perhaps with a bit of shallot and wine, there are many ways to highlight the flavor of mushrooms. One of the easiest is to roast the mushrooms, which concentrates their flavor and makes an excellent accompaniment to any fall dinner.
Recipes: For a truly impressive side dish to serve at your next dinner party, try Roasted Mushrooms with Walnut and Rye. For a healthy and hearty main course that both vegetarians and meat eaters will enjoy, try Mushroom Risotto with Hazelnut and Herb Gremolata.
Winter squash are quintessentially fall: vibrant in color, nutty and delicious in flavor, and often a staple of the Thanksgiving table. They are also one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, full of fiber, antioxidants, and high in beta-carotene and vitamins C and B-6. Simply roasting with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, squash make an excellent side dish on their own. Add some herbs, chopped nuts, or a light shave of aged cheese and you’ve made something dinner party-worthy.
Recipe: Cider-braised Delicata Squash is a simple dish that will not only impress family or guests, but also captures the essence of fall with sage, thyme and apple cider.
Apples and Pears
The northwest has some of the best apples and pears anywhere. The apple is Washington’s official state fruit, and the pear is Oregon’s state fruit.
Recipes: To make something a bit different from the traditional apple crisp, try a Pear Clafouti, a French custard-like dessert that is both healthy and delicious. For a quintessentially fall dinner, try Roast Pork with Apples, Fennel and Cider reduction. Pork tenderloin is extremely lean and, when seared, roasted and served with a delectable cider sauce, is a hearty, satisfying way to usher in the change of seasons.