Every farmer knows the secret (how is it a secret?!!) that fall is the best season. There are no bugs. Let’s just start there – the flies are pretty much gone, same with the mosquitos. We also don’t have to cover everything with row cover to keep the flea beetles off. And then there’s the produce! Some of the summer things are still hanging on (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions), all the root crops are bumping and the greens – all of them – love this time of year. Give a few crops (brussels sprouts, parsnips and kale) a little bit of frost and they get sweeter! It is also (not to flog the tired horse of gratitude) – the time when it’s easiest to feel grateful. We made it through the summer. There’s tons of food. The freaking flies are just a memory. And maybe it’s the chef in me, but I also get very excited for fall because it’s cooking time again! Not the throw-it-together-with-some-olive-oil-and-vinegar kind of cooking that’s the hallmark of summer, but the roast it, braise it, layer it and bake it in the oven kind of cooking that’s so warm and inviting.
There are a few challenges in the fall, from a CSA garden member perspective, because there are some vegetables that might be unfamiliar and you’re not used to cooking. I’ve gathered some recipes that feature some of the more unusual vegetables.
Radishes – all of them (watermelon, green meat, Spanish black and daikon) can be eaten raw and fresh. Try throwing them in with some other roasted vegetables, or into a stir fry. The ‘bite’ of the radish is softened by cooking. I think they taste great fresh with fish, or in a sandwich. They also go really well in almost any coleslaw. They’re also delicious ‘butter poached’ – cook them slowly in a shallow layer in a combo of half water and half butter with a healthy sprinkle of salt, cover the pot, til tender – and pretend that someone else cooked them and you don’t know you just ate a ¼ cup of butter!
Kohlrabi – so delicious fresh. I mean, you can cook it (think of it like a potato) – it’s great roasted or steamed. But really, the crunch and the sweetness is fantastic fresh. Throw it on a veggie tray, in a coleslaw or just sliced in a salad.
Hakurei turnip – almost all the same notes as for kohlrabi – it looks boring (white), but it has great texture fresh(can something be crisp and custard-y at the same time?). Or make a soup with 2 parts onion, a clove or two of garlic (sweat them slowly with butter and salt), then add 1 part turnip. Cover just barely with water, add a big pinch of salt and cook til tender. Puree and taste. Add a little cream (2 Tbsp-1/4 cup) if you like.
Here are a few recipes that deal with some of the odd Fall vegetables. Sorry about the formatting, I’m trying to find something easier (and legible) than hand typing each recipe….
These recipes are from two excellent cookbooks – ‘Roots’ by Diane Morgan and ‘Plenty’ by Yotam Ottolenghi.