While it may not seem like it because of the heat, September 22nd marked the official end of summer. Even though the NOAA and NASA have charted the past 11 months as the hottest months on record, it is indeed time for autumn and cooler weather. One of the best things about fall, at least in our opinion here at Think Crucial, is the new produce options that become available from the local farmer’s markets and of course, from our gardens. With all this produce comes some of our favorite recipes, with ways to use them that you’ve probably never thought of.
While fall and produce may make you think of squashes, like butternuts, pumpkins, acorn, and spaghetti squash, it’s also time for sturdy greens like Swiss chard, Kale, and cabbages. Look for these in your local markets as well as the last fall harvest apples. While you’re there, look for green tomatoes. If you don’t see them, ask, and if you have plants, grab all of the small hard green tomatoes from your plants before the first frost takes them. These little succulent beauties are the basis of our first uncommon recipe.
Green Tomato Pie
This pie has long been a staple in some of our houses. The taste and texture will surprise you, especially if you’ve only thought of a tomato as a sandwich option or for sauces. Guests who aren’t in on the secret will probably think it’s an apple pie. For best results, cut your tomatoes into a colander and let them drain for a few minutes. Less liquid makes the pie turn out better.
Preparation is easy. Preheat your oven to 350. Use a double crust and lay the bottom crust in a 9-inch pie plate. Cut about three to four cups of green tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices and let drain for five minutes. In a medium bowl, toss together 1 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/4 cup of golden raisins. Lay the tomato mixture into the crust and sprinkle 3 Tbsp. tapioca evenly over the top.
Cover with the other crust in your preferred method (we like using a lattice top. Here is a great article on how to make a great lattice crust). Bake the pie for 1 hour and let cool. Serve warm with a slice of cheddar cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Butternut Squash All Day
Another one of our favorite fall vegetables is the butternut squash. Butternut squash is one of our favorite squashes to use, simply because it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Ounce for ounce, this delicious veggie has more vitamins and trace minerals than its cousin, the pumpkin. Because they have such a similar flavor profile, you can make a butternut squash pie that is a great fall alternative to regular pumpkin fare.
While there is a little more work involved, because you can’t simply open a can of butternut puree, the end result is totally worth it. As a tip, roast the butternut squash before you mash it into the puree to give your pie an extra layer of flavor. Take one of these to your next holiday get together. Find the recipe here.
Of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the best uses for the butternut: soup. There are about a million recipes for a good butternut squash soup, but one of our favorites omits the traditional addition of stock and carrots and opts instead for adding a Granny Smith apple for a refreshingly tart backdrop to the creamy soup. It also uses roasted squash so you get all of your fall flavors in one delicious bowl. Get the recipe here.
Savory Sweet Potatoes
The last fall vegetable that we’re going to touch on today is the ubiquitous sweet potato. While its normal use might be as a candied, overly-sweet mashed dish topped with marshmallow, there is so much more to this subtle spud. This recipe uses a puff pastry with a lightly tangy syrup to give our roasted sweet potatoes and cheese a grown up flair.
2 sweet potatoes
1/3 c. white sugar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 tsp. water
3/4 c. Gruyere
1 Tbsp. chopped sage
2 tsp. chopped thyme
1/4 c. soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
First, slice two sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch slices and bake for 25 minutes in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven. You can do this a day ahead of time if you like. Next, combine 1/3 cup of white sugar with 2 Tbsp. of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the syrup comes to a low boil and turns a light amber. Carefully pour in the vinegar/water mixture. Pour the syrup immediately into a buttered square cake pan.
Carefully place the slices of sweet potato into the pan. We use rows, but you can make circles or any pattern you like. Be extremely careful not to touch the syrup, as it is very hot. Dot with the goat cheese and sprinkle on the gruyere and season with sage and thyme to taste. Unroll the puff pastry and brush one side with the mustard. Lay the puff pastry over the potato/cheese with the mustard side down, using the handle of a wooden spoon to push the pastry in at the edges.
Cut steam vents in the pastry and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully invert onto an oven-safe platter. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into servings.
We at Think Crucial think you’ll love these recipes to get you and your household into the fall mood. Let us know in the comments what some of your favorite offbeat uses for fall produce is.