Three vegetables and one herb essential for fall cooking

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By: Kate Stoltzfus

(Flavor 574 photo/Jason Bryant)

The bulk of summer produce may be harvested, but the garden’s yields are far from over. As crisp fall rolls in, we celebrate what still grows on the vine and stalk with a penchant for cooler weather.

Spinach:

This dark, leafy green is rich in iron and calcium, and packed full of vitamin D, which comes in handy when sunny days are numbered.

Cooler weather turns the plant sweeter — it has a tendency to grow bitter in heat, said Ben Hartman of Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen. He prefers his leaves cooked over eggs in the morning or tossed into a salad.

Most stalks are ready to harvest when they flower into five or six large leaves (about 37 days after planting).

Beets:

As pretty as they are nutritious, blood-red beets are colored by betalains, which provide antioxidants and reduce cholesterol. Beets greens are also an ample source of beta-carotene, which aids in blood purification.

Harvest comes in October, when the plant’s shoulders poke from the soil. Fall and winter beets have a richer, sweeter taste; the roots store sugars to prepare for winter, said Argos farmer Joe Gady.

Eat them raw, cooked, or pressed into juice. To take full advantage of nutrients, steam beets 15 minutes or less.

Winter squash:

The squash family tends to prefer the warmest of the cooler-spectrum months, but their rinds contain a classic fall treat. Edible gourds from the smaller, sweeter delicata to the dark green buttercup are ripe in September and October.

Cut one in half, roast the seeds and bake the inner flesh for squash so moist it falls of the fork. Lydia Karacson of BackYard Produce in Granger recommends butternut or buttercup squash for stuffing; she picks combinations like barley and mincement, sliced root veggies and quinoa, or chicken, oregano and cinnamon for a hearty evening meal.

A bonus: butternut squash is loaded with vitamins A and C.

Rosemary:

This perennial herb grows on small evergreen bushes late into the fall, thriving with sun and generous breathing room. While growth is better before the first frost in October, rosemary can last as long as the climate is mild, said Unity Gardens director Sara Stewart.

The sprigs of flat needles are known for their intense pine-like fragrance, and add pungent flavor to meats and soups. Sprinkle generously for a strong source of iron and calcium.

Clay Bottom Farm’s Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Try Ben Hartman’s recipe for a quick evening meal featuring the most nutritious highlights of the season.

  1. Chop onions, leeks, butternut squash, carrots, beets and potatoes into quartered squares.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and rosemary.
  3. Bake at 450 degrees for one hour.

This article is brought to you by Goertzen Pottery. Celebrating 25 years of hand crafting pottery in Goshen. Stop by the workshop and showroom at Old Bag Factory, Goshen, 574-534-1162.

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