Apart from the changing leaves, crisp air, and cozy flannels, we love fall for the bounty of fresh produce that pops up at the farmers market. Beyond the usual suspects (read: butternut squash and pumpkins) we’re filling our bags with some of autumn’s unsung heroes. So grab your tote, head to the market, and scoop up some of these seasonal faves while you still can.
Celeriac (or, celery root)
Celeriac has a woodsy, celery-like flavor that we particularly love in the fall. Pick out the larger ones since you’ll lose quite a bit in the trimming process. Also avoid those with soft spots, which is usually a clue that they’re a bit past prime. At a glance, celeriac looks, well, a little intimidating, but if you can get through that tough outer skin, you’re in for a treat. Boil it up with some potatoes for a supremely fall mash, or take your cue from the French and julienne a few cups into a classic celeri remoulade,aka veggie salad. Just be sure to make your dressing first—your sliced celeriac will oxidize rapidly when exposed to air, which reminds us, don’t wash or peel until you’re ready to use it.
Sunchokes (or, Jerusalem artichokes)
Neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem, sunchokes seem to come and go quietly each season. Their superbly delicate flavor deserves more credit than it gets. Buy a pound or two (they should be firm to the touch and without blemishes) and use them anywhere that you would a potato. Throw them in with a roast, add them to a fall soup, or roast them in the oven with some olive oil until they’re nice and tender. We also love them braised with some chicken stock, crushed garlic, and a bay leaf to bring out their earthy flavor. Raw and thinly sliced, they add a nice crunch and nuttiness to salads, too. Sunchokes will keep for a solid week or two in the fridge if you wrap them loosely with a dry paper towel and place them in a resealable bag.
These petite turnips won us over with their surprisingly crisp, delicious raw flavor. For that very reason, they’re also referred to as salad turnips, and although they are technically a root veg, their peppery flavor is more akin to radishes. It’s ideal to purchase these guys with their leafy green tops still intact so you know they’re fresh; look for turnips with smooth skin and healthy-looking greens. Raw, they add a little zing to salads and crudité platters. For a tasty side dish, try glazing them with some chicken stock, a pat of butter, and a sprinkle of sugar.
No fall roundup would be complete without a nod to winter squash. Our chefs are smitten with the delicata squash variety and for good reason. It delicate, edible skin (hence, delicata) and creamy, mild flesh make a great canvas for all the fall flavors. Choose squash that are heavy for their size and free from blemishes and soft spots. Leave out on your kitchen counter until you’re ready to use, and store anything cut in a resealable bag in the fridge. We like to cut our squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepperm and roast skin side down until tender, creating a perfect vessel for a few heaping spoonfuls of your favorite grain. Alternatively, slice the squash into thin semi-circles and toss with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper and a touch of cinnamon.
If you are lucky enough to find fresh ginger root at your local farmers market, buy it immediately. It’s more tender and fragrant than your typical store bought variety. Store the root in a resealable bag with the air pushed out, and it will last you a good few weeks. Perfectly warming and comforting for fall, try using fresh ginger for homemade tea. Just cover a teaspoon or two of the chopped root with hot water and let it brew for 3–5 minutes. If a cocktail is more your style, make some ginger infused simple syrup to mix in with your drink of choice. Or, try your hand at pickling: slice some peeled ginger paper-thin and mix it with rice wine vinegar, water, sugar and a pinch of salt.
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