Ode to Fall Veggies
It’s officially fall, and I can say without a doubt that my absolute favorite season has arrived. As much as I love swimming in the lake in the summer with the dogs, or taking them up to the snow in the winter, and as much as I love to see my terrace flowers and plants come to life in the spring, fall just screams my name. I partly blame The Gilmore Girls for this fall fascination. Is it just me or did it feel like 90% of that show happened in the fall, and featured the most gorgeous New England fall foliage and weather all the time? I also blame it on Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan when in the midst of one of my favorite romantic comedies and a total tribute to books and the reading life, they discuss the fall and bouquets of sharpened pencils. I don’t miss much about being in school, but reading and analyzing books with my high school teacher Liz is one of those things I look back on fondly, the other is shopping for school supplies at the stationary store, so bouquets of sharpened pencils sounds just about right.
In today’s episode though, we won’t be talking about my pluviophile nature, or the fact that fall trees just make a city that much more beautiful, we’re getting our cooking on and talking about fall veggies and what to do with them. I’m going to give you a brief list of some of my fall favorite vegetables, and give you one or two quick ideas of how you can turn them into dinner tonight. Sound good? Let’s do this thing! Although it will be all about the veggies today, I’m including some fall fruits like apples, figs and pomegranates within the ideas for each veg, so you can max out the savings and deliciousness of the farmer’s market this time of year.
Kale and Collard Greens
Kale has only recently become trendy in Spain, even though it has always been a timeless crop in the north of Spain and you can see fields of kale and collards in every single home in the small northern villages. These two are choc-full of calcium, and they are so versatile and far less bitter than other greens. I have a love affair with kale in particular, and you’ll never open my fridge and not see a ton of it.
Some meal ideas:
Collard green wraps: lightly steam the large collard green leaves (removing the thicker part of the stem), fill it up with sautéed or roasted veggies, some tempeh, roll it up like a summer roll and serve some of our peanut sauce on the side.
A yummy chickpea curry made with sweet potatoes, carrots or cauliflower, the chickpeas of course, thinly sliced onion, curry paste, coconut milk, and at the last minute, add lots of torn kale and let it simmer in the sauce until it’s lightly wilted but still bright green. Serve it over basmati rice or quinoa. Top it with some fig slices or pomegranate seeds if you want to get extra fancy or you want to add even more color to this dish. Curries go great with anything sweet.
Pumpkin and butternut squash
This is one veg that everyone knows belongs to the fall and we can thank Halloween for that. In fact, every year, the day after Halloween, pumpkins are about half off at the green grocer’s near my house, which is why I buy a big one, make some dishes and freeze them. Butternut squash is its delicious cousin, perfect for making soup or stuffing with veggies.
Some meal ideas:
Make a simple pumpkin or butternut squash soup by just simmering cubes of it in some veggie broth with some onions and garlic, then puréeing it in a blender. It’s the easiest and quickest meal to make and it’s so filling and satisfying! Add some smoky shiitakes (or shiitake bacon) on top if you want to add an extra layer of flavor.
Roast smaller pumpkins or a small butternut squash with some cinnamon and paprika in the oven, then stuff with black beans and sautéed veggies, top with vegan cheese, broil until melted and then top with some salsa. It’s divine!
The love affair between parsnips and I began late in life (these are non-existent in my home country of Venezuela and are hard to find in Spain as well), but it was love at first sight. What is cuter than this root veggie? It kind of looks like a carrot but it’s so tapered and thin at the tip it’s just adorable, and the taste is like nothing else out there, and very hard to describe.
Some meal ideas:
There are few things as delicious as a tray of roasted root vegetables that include the lovely parsnip. Simply roast them along with carrots, sweet potatoes and whole shallots, add chopped rosemary, a bit of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and roast until buttery and tender. Parsnips are very tapered, so try to cut them so that all the pieces are more or less the same size to allow for even cooking.
Roast with apples, grapes and brussels sprouts and serve as a yummy side for a holiday meal.
What can I say about mushrooms that I haven’t already said in our Ode to the Mushroom post and episode? Well, I can begin by telling you that I’ve already cheated because mushrooms aren’t technically vegetables, in fact they’re not plants! What?! Don’t worry, they’re not animals either, they just have their own magical world…. with the smurfs…. and they’re so yummy they should be included in all lists of delicious foods. When the fall season begins, Spain shines with its glorious mushrooms, and the farmer’s markets practically give them away. There are so many varieties and recipes you can make for each, but for sure these are my favorite ways of eating mushrooms regularly:
Pan-fried oyster mushrooms cooked until really crispy and served over a massaged kale salad with some figs, pears or pomegranate seeds for a bit of sweetness.
Portobello mushrooms on a yummy pizza.
Lots of different kinds of mushrooms in a mushroom risotto.
Marinated shiitake mushrooms, which are then sautéed, then used in sushi rolls with some avocado and hoisin sauce on top.
I could go on and on forever and I kind of do, here.
I could write a whole ode to the potato post, since I think it’s one of those glorious vegetables, but the sweet potato, its lovely orange cousin, has nothing to be jealous of. Sweet potatoes are always in our pantry, mostly because one of our favorite snacks are roasted spicy sweet potatoes served with hummus for dipping. If you’re a sweet potato fan, here are some more ideas:
A creamy sweet potato purée made with cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of non-dairy butter and non-dairy cream.
Halved and roasted sweet potatoes, scoop out some of the orange flesh, and mash it with some salt, pepper, scallions, lemon zest, a bit of non-dairy butter, a bit of dijon mustard, return the mash to the sweet potato skins, and top with either some vegan cheese shreds or our cashew sour cream and some chives.
Some more of our recipes which feature delicious fall edibles?
Hundreds more in our vegan online program My Brownble.