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seasonal eats.

Posted Nov 20 2009 10:03pm

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When my parents visited last weekend, my mom, as always, brought me two bags bursting with fresh produce.  Isn’t she the best?  As much as I find grocery shopping to be an enjoyable use of my time, this week in particular was one where I really appreciated not needing to make the trip.  

IMG_0167pomegranate season is such a wonderful thing.

Included in the haul were several seasonal items that I had planned to craft into Sunday’s dinner.  When lunchtime came around, however, I kept it simple, throwing together a large, basic raw salad.  [Large is probably an unnecessary adjective; my salads are never small].

To preface: Mom, I am thankful for every fruit or vegetable you bring me.  And so I pulled out a few of the vegetables for which I didn’t have specific plans: bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber.  

I like to munch while I chop, and in the process, I bit into each vegetable and tasted…nothing.  In July, these are all favorites of mine.  Juicy, crunchy, sweet in the most wonderful way.  I’ve been known to describe in season cherry tomatoes as candy, and I’ll pop them one by one on my tongue like such.  But in November?  The flavor had vanished.

IMG_0184perfectly seasonal and perfectly roasted brussels sprouts

When I was in Europe, I was always impressed by the focus on the seasons.  If you searched for them in December, you could find fruits and vegetables that are plentiful in summer – but you had to truly hunt.  Here in the US, on the other hand, our grocery aisles are stocked with asparagus and winter squash no matter what the temperature outside.  

My recent salads of pumpkin and beets, of carrots and cabbage, of broccoli and sunchokes – all have been rich in flavor and all have been intensely satisfying.  I know that choosing ingredients in their prime stage of harvest has had a lot to do with that satiety, both mentally and physically.  Just because we can  find summer produce doesn’t mean we should purchase it.  Seasonal eating is greener, and it tastes a lot better too.

IMG_0183

I’ll spice up the remaining tomatoes and peppers in some cooked dishes, but the real joy of natural flavor will stem from more autumnally appropriate treats.  For instance:

fennel and parsnip purée

  • evoo
  • one fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1/2 c onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 t coriander
  • 2 large parsnips, steamed
  • 3-4 T vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper

Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat.  Add fennel and onion; sauté until soft.  Add garlic and coriander; sauté about a minute until fragrant.  Transfer to blender or food processor; add parsnips, broth, salt, and pepper to taste.  Purée; add more broth to reach desired consistency.

IMG_0192

This was wonderfully savory.  I roasted some brussels sprouts with generous olive oil and maple syrup alongside [35 minutes at 350 degrees], and they were equally delicious.  Roasted brussels are quite possibly one of my favorite cold weather treats. [Who says that?]

With a spicy syrah, it all made for a light plate that fulfilled all my autumnal cravings.  I’m sure peppers and tomatoes will star in some excellent meals after we’ve survived winter, but until then, I’ll stick with the produce of this season.

 

Is eating seasonally important to you?  What seasonal item are you loving right now?

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