As the temperatures start to drop, cooking methods such as warm weather grilling turn to slow-cooking and to heartier comforting fare. Rather than simple salads and no-cook meals I much prefer pastas with ragu and other rich sauces, braised meats, fall produce and roasted root vegetables.
If you have followed me for a bit then you know that fall is my favorite season (I talk about it a lot, I can’t help it). Leaves falling from trees in beautiful colors, apple and pumpkin everything (minus PSL’s – I’m in the minority who don’t enjoy them), Halloween, Thanksgiving and the return of football. Even if it’s 80 degrees outside, come September I still drag my family to apple orchards so that we can pick bushels of juicy and crisp fruit to make everything from tarts to apple crisp, to donuts and pies.
And autumn temperatures make for the perfect outfit combinations – a chilly breeze that comes through in the afternoon only requires jeans, boots and a t-shirt, maybe the addition of a light cashmere sweater. Just another reason to love fall.
While in Southern California it may be hard to gauge the movement from summer into fall by the weather, I can always tell that the seasons have changed when I walk around my local Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays in downtown Santa Monica. While late summer ingredients like tomatoes are still in season in late summer and early fall, I like to look towards more fall-like harvest ingredients.
These days there are an abundance of ingredients that are available year-round in grocery stores. I never gave it much thought until I spent time working with Chef Anne Willan. She emphasized the importance of using seasonal ingredients. The benefit of this practice is that you end up with ingredients at their peak. No more white tomatoes or gritty apples, eating food at its ripest gives you the best quality ingredients to cook with.
Using seasonal ingredients also benefits the environment, since by eating what is in season locally means that produce doesn’t have to be shipped around the world. This isn’t to say I don’t still indulge in imported ingredients. But there has to be some give and take, and I try to be mindful of that.
While this is in no way a complete comprehensive list of all seasonal produce, my goal is to highlight a few ingredients that shine during each season. Keep in mind that for the most part seasonality of vegetables and fruits can differ between geographical regions. To search your location and see all produce in season every month by state check out this chart here.
These bone-in pork chops are seared and served topped with a sweet apple cider glaze – a fitting recipe for fall.
This rich and colorful salad is a great addition to any fall dinner table. If you plan on serving it as an entrée salad, add some chicken to make it more filling.
American lamb shanks are braised in a red wine based broth until they can be easily shredded with a fork.
This homemade almond milk is spiced with a blend of homemade pumpkin pie spices.
Roasted acorn squash in brown butter with crispy sage leaves topped with pomegranate seeds for a colorful holiday side.
Did you go to a picturesque small town to go apple picking and don’t know what to do with all the apples you paid for? Make some apple butter!
I find it impossible to resist eating the sugary oatmeal crumble off the top of the dessert before, during and after cooking it!
Spaghetti squash is first roasted and the flesh is scraped out and combined with creamed spinach then layered with marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella for that stringy cheese-topped finish
There’s nothing like sitting down on a chilly fall day and drinking a glass of refreshing apple cider and eating a cider donut.
Butternut squash has a sweet nutty taste similar to pumpkin that is complimented by the maple cream in this soup.
Korma is a mildly spicy, aromatic Indian sauce made with curry powder, pureed almonds, cashews and a bit of yogurt, which adds a creamy texture to the sauce.
This gnocchi is inviting with flavors of roasted and slightly caramelized butternut squash, pancetta topped with brown butter sauce and sage.
When preparing for the barrage of winter dinner parties that lie ahead I often turn to a kale salad because the tough leaves can be dressed ahead of time and sit for a few hours without wilting.
These sweet potato taquitos are a vegetarian alternative to taquitos typically loaded with meat.
Oatmeal is mixed with pumpkin puree and seasonal warming spices like cinnamon for a filling fall breakfast.
It’s best to start with firm ripe pears for this delicate dessert. As the pears poach, they absorb the poaching liquid and become sweet and tender.
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