As the first few cool mornings have welcomed us to fall, we are grateful, especially after such a long, hot, wet summer growing season. Now it is time to think about all the fun foods that coincide with the fabulous fall foliage. Some of the crops were planted long ago, others more recently, and some are still in the seed packets. Lest we not forget, Old Man Winter lays in wait, so now is the time to secure your share of the fantastic flavors, colors and nutrient-dense foods still to come this year.
Most commonly, people think of pumpkins, gourds and dry corn fodder shocks for decorations when thinking of fall. We think about butternut and spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, great greens, and the return of the lettuces. Garlic is hanging in the barn to be taken down and cleaned, as needed. The various varieties of winter squash, with their kaleidoscope of colors, were planted back in July with the intent for them to mature during the cooler weather of September and October. The late fall harvest is beneficial in two ways. The fruits tend to have more flavor when they ripen in cool, dry weather, and their hard shells allow them to be stored well into winter, providing excellent nutrition for several months after harvest.
Many colors of fall exist underground, as well. Purple, red, gold and white potatoes are yet to be dug. We began their harvest a few weeks back, so we have some idea of what to expect with each digging. The purple, red and orange sweet potatoes lay in wait. The sweet-potato slips were planted in June, the vines covered the field by August, and then the rains helped the little weeds we missed with the cultivators turn into monstrosities scattered throughout the field. But we have no idea what we will find to harvest until later this week, when we hand-dig a few test plants. Most crops, we can kind of tell how they are performing, but sweet potatoes is more like fishing: You are not sure what you will find until they come to the surface.
Many other underground treasures await us, as well. Late-planted beets of many colors prefer the cool weather, and with less weed pressure, the tops will be lush and scrumptious. We also intend to harvest many types of winter radishes, be they Spanish black, white daikons or—everyone’s favorite—the watermelon radish. These, too, are long keepers, like the winter squash, although the radishes need to be kept under refrigeration. Once they have sized up, we will begin to harvest them and then bring them all into the packing shed coolers before the ground freezes.
But the most beautiful color of all for fall is green. Kales, lettuces, broccoli, cabbages. As we said in the opening of the season newsletter back in May, we make no apologies for providing lots of greens. They are arguably the most powerful food you can consume. The cooler weather is more to their liking and actually improves not only their taste but their nutrient density, as well.
Come join us on one of our farm tours, so you can get a better feel for how all this comes together for us to provide for you and your families. The colors of fall will soon be all around us, as well as in your kitchen. —Mac Stone
In Your Share
Fresh Herb: Basil
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Tomato and Ground Beef, adapted from The Cookie Writer
1 spaghetti squash
1 lb. ground beef
half a green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 portobello mushroom, halved and sliced
2 lb. tomatoes, diced
salt & pepper
½ tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh oregano
¼ tsp. cayenne
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stab a knife into the spaghetti squash randomly about half a dozen times to allow steam to release. Place on a baking sheet, and cook 30-40 minutes, or until a knife can pierce the skin easily. Slice in half and allow to cool. Remove seeds with a spoon. Run a fork along the inside of the squash to create the “spaghetti” strands.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until meat is browned. Mix in green pepper, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme, oregano and cayenne. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F. Add the sauce on top of your prepared squash halves. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Bake for 10 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.
Celery Soda, adapted from Food52
If you’re wondering what to do with all of those celery leaves, this could be the most creative use we’ve yet to come across.
Simple Syrup: Soda:
½ c. packed celery leaves 1 oz. celery simple syrup
1 c. sugar 1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 c. water 8 oz. sparkling water
Simmer all syrup ingredients until sugar dissolves. Strain celery leaves from syrup and discard. Let syrup cool. (This will keep in a closed container in the fridge for 1 month.)
Combine soda ingredients, and serve immediately over ice.
Farro and Cucumber Salad, adapted from Bon Appetit
Substitute farro and caraway seeds with ingredients on your shelf such as rice, quinoa, or sunflower seeds.
1 c. farro
salt & pepper
2 c. 1-inch pieces pumpernickel bread
5 T. olive oil, divided
1 t. caraway seeds
1 t. white wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
½ t. honey
1 large cucumber, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 baby beets, very thinly sliced
¼ c. dill sprigs
¼ c. parsley leaves
Cook farro in a medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still al dente, 30–40 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet, squeezing bread to help it absorb oil; season with salt and pepper. Toast until crisp but not hard, 10–15 minutes. Let cool.
Toast caraway seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Coarsely chop caraway seeds. Whisk vinegar, mustard, honey, and chopped caraway seeds in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons oil; season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Toss cucumbers, beets, dill, parsley, farro, croutons, and dressing in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: Farro can be cooked 3 days ahead. Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.