October 1 marks the start of Vegetarian Awareness Month – an ideal time to take stock of those vegetables for which Fall is prime time.
An A-to-Z Inventory
The bounty of fall vegetables is extensive, so consider this A-to-Z inventory a mere sampling of the tasty and good-for-you veggies that this season serves up:
• Arugula – a cool-weather, peppery green;
• Broccoli – fall brings out the sweetness in this popular, floret vegetable – see broccoli walnut pasta recipe below;
• Celery – although harvested throughout the winter in warmer climates, celery is at its best come fall;
• Edamame – for those unfamiliar, these are fresh soy beans;
• Fennel – like most cool-weather crops, this plant turns bitter in warmer weather;
• Green beans – this versatile vegetable is most tender from mid-summer into fall – see green bean fries recipe below;
• Horseradish – although it’s best in the fall, horseradish can be stored well into spring;
• Jerusalem artichokes/Sunchokes – these are firm tubers with smooth, tan skins that resemble small pieces of fresh ginger;
• Kale – cool weather keeps this hearty cooking green tasting sweet;
• Leeks – avoid leeks with wilted tops, as well as those that are more than 1 ½ inches wide, as they’re likely to have tough inner cores;
• Mushrooms (wild) – other than morels, most wild mushrooms are in-season in summer through fall;
• Okra – when selecting okra, look for firm, plump pods;
• Pumpkin – this is the most common winter squash and generally reaches its peak season in September;
• Rutabaga – this is a sweet, nutty root vegetable that’s frequently served in stews, roasted, or mashed;
• Sweet potato – often sold as “yams,” sweet potatoes store well and are most plentiful from late summer through winter;
• Tomatillos – these look like small green tomatoes with a light green papery husk;
• Winter squash – there are many varieties of winter squash, but all have thick, tough shells that protect the sweet, rich flesh inside, which makes them excellent storage vegetables;
• Zucchini – this versatile vegetable can stand on its own or be transformed into yummy baked goods.
These fall-vegetable-based recipes – one an entrée, broccoli walnut pasta – the other a snack or side, green bean fries – are sure to be a seasonal success.
Broccoli Walnut Pasta
• 8 oz. pasta shells, penne, or fusilli (whole wheat is a healthy option)
• 2 lbs. broccoli
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 cup walnuts
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil and/or butter
• 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
• 1/2 cup freshly shredded pecorino, parmesan, or other hard-grating cheese, plus more for garnish
• 1 Tbsp. salt for pasta water, 1/2 tsp. salt for sauce, plus more to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp. salt to the water. Add the pasta and cook until tender to the bite. While the pasta cooks, scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water and reserve it. Drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, trim the broccoli, and separate the crowns into large florets. Cut the florets into smaller ones, about 1/2-inch across. Set aside. Peel and finely chop the garlic and set aside.
3. Roughly chop the walnuts and spread them on a baking sheet or piece of foil and bake until toasted, 5 to 10 minutes.
4. In a large frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and/or butter, the broccoli, and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli turns bright green, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
5. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta-cooking water to the broccoli. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 3 to 5 minutes. If the pan gets dry, add more pasta-cooking water.
6. Add the drained pasta to the broccoli, toss to combine well. Add the walnuts and toss to combine. Add the cheese and toss to combine. Taste and add salt if you like. Serve hot, topped with more cheese.
Makes 4 servings.
Green Bean Fries
Ingredients for the dip:
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber
1 Tbsp. horseradish, drained
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. wasabi powder
pinch of cayenne pepper and kosher salt
Ingredients for green beans:
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup instant flour
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
peanut or vegetable oil (for frying)
Make the dip: Puree the dressing, cucumber, horseradish, milk, vinegar, wasabi powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste in a blender until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prepare the beans: Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Let cool in the water, then drain and pat dry.
Whisk the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Put 1/2 cup flour in another shallow bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs, the remaining 1/2 cup flour, the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste in another bowl.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the green beans in the flour and shake off the excess. One at a time, dip the beans in the egg mixture, dredge in the breadcrumb mixture and lay on the prepared baking sheet. Freeze until the coating is set, about 30 minutes.
Heat 3 inches oil in a deep pot over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Fry the green beans in batches until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the beans with tongs or a skimmer to a rack or paper towels to drain. Serve with the dip.