|Recipes by Robyn Webb, MS, LN|
If you are a fan of local, seasonal foods, you probably already make good use of summer’s bounty: the berries, melons, tomatoes, and other produce that shine when it’s hot. But seasonal eating doesn’t have to end when summer does. Fall’s hardier harvest is just as delicious, if you know what to do with it.
Consider the Apple
Is there any more convenient healthy snack food? Choose apples that make you want to eat them, with no bruises or soft spots. Smaller apples generally keep longer than larger ones, up to one month refrigerated in a ventilated plastic bag separate from other fruits and vegetables. (Don’t store them at room temperature: They start to get mushy and lose their vitamin content.) Tart apples are usually considered best for cooking, although you can cook with any variety except for Red Delicious.
Getting the Best out of Pears
Buy firm, unblemished pears a few days before you plan to eat them, and let them ripen at room temperature. Store ripened pears in the refrigerator for three to five days. Bosc and D’Anjou pears are best for cooking; Bartletts are best eaten out of hand since they can get mushy when cooked.
Getting the Best out of Sweet Potatoes
Choose hard, smooth sweet potatoes with intact skins. Avoid those with nicks, soft spots, eyes, and bruises. Sweet potatoes that are heavy for their size will be good and moist. Small to medium-sized ones taste sweeter and more flavorful. Store sweet potatoes in a dark, cool, dry place in a well-ventilated area—not in the refrigerator—for up to two weeks.
Getting the Best out of Winter Squash
The rind of any winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti, etc.) should be dry and clean with a dull finish. The color of the skin should be uniform with no gray or soft spots. The squash should feel heavy for its size. Winter squash may be stored up to two weeks in a cool, dry, well-ventilated spot (not the fridge).
Getting the Best out of Cauliflower
Look for florets that are cream-colored or white, free of brown or soft spots. The leaves should look crisp and green. Store cauliflower in a ventilated plastic bag for up to one week in the refrigerator. It’s best to braise or steam cauliflower; it quickly loses nutrients when boiled.
Getting the Best out of Fennel
The bulb should be smooth and glossy, not dry looking. A well-rounded fennel bulb will usually be tastier than a flat bulb. The stalks and fronds (the dill-like, leafy part) should be intact and fresh. Store fennel in a ventilated bag for two to three days in the refrigerator.
How to Cut Fennel
Fennel, which is used as both an herb and a vegetable, has a light, fresh, licorice flavor. The flesh of the bulb is crisp and crunchy. Here’s how we like to prep it:
|(1) First, slice the green stalks and fronds from the white bulb. In some recipes (including the salad at left), you will use at least some of both sections.|
|(2) Next, trim off the rough base of the bulb and discard.|
|(3) Cut the trimmed bulb in half.|
|(4) Slice the halved bulb. You may also use a mandoline for this step.|