Now that the days are getting shorter and the air crisper, my thoughts are turning from the weeding and watering and staking of the past several months to cozier indoor pursuits- namely all the cooking and baking this little cottage kitchen can handle! And if you planted your vegetable garden with an autumn harvest in mind, it’s likely you’re looking for ways to incorporate your crops into meals for the chilly weeks ahead. While there are endless possibilities when it comes to preparing these popular veggies, included here are some tasty and simple methods that will take you from the garden, (or the farm stand), to the table with ease.
No collection of recipes for an autumn harvest would be complete without that most quintessential symbol of fall, the pumpkin. Pumpkin is so ubiquitous these days; you really can find it in almost everything- cakes, breads, soups, lattes, donuts, and even breakfast cereals! Of course, you can pick up a can of pureed pumpkin at any grocery store, but if you’ve got a bumper crop in the backyard, where do you begin? The best pumpkins for culinary purposes tend to be the sugar pie pumpkins, or another diminutive variety. Unlike the larger jack-o-lantern pumpkins, with their watery, stringy flesh, these little guys are small, sweet, and flavorful. Excellent for baking into all those Thanksgiving pies! There are just a few steps required to take your pumpkin from seasonal tabletop decoration to delicious dish.
One 4-6 pound sugar pumpkin will yield approximately two pounds pumpkin puree.
First, cut your little sugar pumpkin in half. Remove stem and scoop out seeds and stringy pulp. Seeds can be saved for roasting and snacking on later. Lay the two halves, flesh side down in a shallow baking dish and cover with foil. Bake halves at 375 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife. Once the pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor until smooth. The pumpkin puree can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze and save for three months.
As green vegetables go, Brussels sprouts just always seem to get a bad rap. Even the non-picky eaters in my family tend to grimace when they appear as a side dish. But prepare them the right way, (i.e. plenty of butter and garlic), and you might just forget all about the main course. In fact, add a little crispy bacon or pancetta to the mix, and these could be the main course.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Butter:
- 2 lbs Brussels sprouts
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Remove the stems and outer leaves of Brussels sprouts, and slice them in half lengthwise. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the sprouts in oil for 8-10 minutes, until tender and outside is caramelized, stirring occasionally. Add butter and chopped garlic, stirring for another 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss and serve. And try not to smirk as you dole out seconds.