Bring on the comfort produce. As the chill of November sets in, I find myself craving hearty soups, casseroles, and roasts to warm me, body and soul. My produce needs to be just as hearty and comforting. Luckily, the best produce available right now at your local grocery store makes for perfect winter eating.
Pop ‘em in your oven to transform those crisp, juicy apples into tender, sweet comfort food. Perfectly caramelized apples on a warm winter salad; savory skillet pork chops with apples and cabbage; baked apples filled with crisp and gooey oats; ice cream warmed to the perfect silky consistency atop fresh-from-the-oven, crisp apple pie… I could go on and on but you get the idea. Honeycrisp, braeburn, and jonagold are traditionally the best baking apples but follow your recipe’s directions if they call for a specific apple.
Earthy and slightly bitter when raw but, properly cooked, beets become decadently rich. Due to their deep color, beets have become increasingly popular in chocolate desserts, adding to the rich taste and color of the chocolate. More traditionally, try beets in a soup like a warm borscht, atop a salad, or simply roasted and seasoned as a side. Roast beets also make a wonderful addition to cheese or charcuterie boards and pair especially well with creamy white cheeses, like feta or goat. Don’t forget, if your beet comes with a healthy set of greens on the top, sauté them for a delicious addition to any meal.
You can eat them raw, boiled, steamed, roasted, or grilled but my favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts is stir-fried. Golden brown with that perfect crisp and just a hint of smoky flavor, stir-fried Brussels sprouts are easy to prepare. Start by trimming the stems (but not too high or the sprout will fall apart) and remove any damaged outer leaves. Next, I half my Brussels sprouts lengthwise and toss in oil, then adding salt and pepper (along with any other spices you like). To cook, heat a pan over medium or medium-high heat, placing the Brussels sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer on the pan when warm. Cook until the cut side turn golden brown and slightly charred (about five minutes). Finally, add a tablespoon of water and stir-fry until the sprouts are tender (about two minutes).
Few things nourish quite like creamy, naturally-sweet pumpkin or squash. Pumpkin is more than just an ingredient in indulgent pies and cookies or the caramelized, melt-in-your-mouth roasted variety. Pumpkin is incredibly versatile and can add seasonal flavor and nutrition to a variety of dishes. This week, we’re dedicating an entire post to prepping and cooking your pumpkin, along with creative ideas like pumpkin mac and cheese. Mac and Cheese with pumpkin? Seriously!?! Yep! For my blue box fans out there, prepare according to the instructions and stir in a half cup of puree at the end. For a more gourmet option, you can find scratch recipes that incorporate ingredients like nutmeg or sage to enhance the seasonal flavors.