I think it is safe to say that Fall weather has come and is here to stay in DC. As such, summer favorites like corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers are disappearing from local farmers markets. Sad, I know, but there plenty of fruits and vegetables that are just coming into season as the weather becomes colder. Here is my Top Ten List of Favorite Fresh Fall Foods:
10) Watercress: With its crisp stems and dark , spicy leaves, watercress is a welcome addition to any salad. It is also packed with Vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and folic acid.
I like watercress in beet salads (beets, although popular in the summer months, remain in season through the winter) with some goat cheese, and some pine nuts or sliced almonds tossed in a vinaigrette.
8 ) Artichokes: I have always been somewhat fascinated with artichokes because of how beautiful and interesting they are both to the taste and the eye. Artichokes are actually flowers, and the bud is the edible artichoke “heart”.
When shopping for artichokes, look for ones that feel heavy and are tightly closed. They can be cooked in many different ways. Most basically, they can be steamed and tossed into a salad or other simple dishes. Stuffed artichokes are also a favorite Italian dish of mine.
Artichokes are a great source of fiber, Vitamin C, magnesium, folate, copper, and potassium.
7) Cranberries: While cranberries are great for baking, I am a huge fan for another reason: cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce is easy to make, with room to get creative. I simply use the recipe from the Ocean Spray bag (found here) and experiment adding other fruits to the mix. Orange zest can add some great tang, but my favorite fruit to add is number 6 on the list…
6) …Pears: Like apples, pears can be great for baking and to throw in salads. But I like just eating them out of hand. They are one of the few cold weather fruits that you can bite into and let the juice run down your arm. Pears also have an incredible subtle fragrance– one of my favorite scents.
5) Pumpkin: I always love it when pumpkin reappears as an ingredient on fall menus. I look forward to seeing what classic dishes can be re-worked with some autumnal flavor. For example, I just had the pumpkin gnocchi at Posto, and my friend Emily just made a delicious batch of pumpkin chili. I am also a fan of eating ice cream no matter how cold it is outside, and pumpkin ice cream and/or gelato is just delicious.
If you still carve jack-o-lanterns (I won’t judge), and don’t know what to do with all of the seeds, try baking them with salt for a snack.
4) Winter Squash: Acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash are just a few of my winter favorites. The squash are easy to just simply roast and enjoy, or make into wonderful soups. Great comfort food.
3) Clementines: The perfect snack. Enough said.
2) Sweet Potatoes: Nothing adds flavor and color to a winter dish quite like sweet potatoes. Simply bake unpeeled at 350 degrees F for 30 to 45 minutes or boil them peeled and cut in half for 20 to 30 minutes and mash.
Sweet potatoes, like most other foods with a rich color, are a great source of nutrients. Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamins A, C, and B-6, fiber, copper, and potassium.
1) Pomegranates: Eating a pomegranate has always been a sort of ritual for me. They are only good for a small portion of the year (I find they peak in November) and they are messy and require a lot of work. But they are so worth it.
Pomegranates seem to be a growing trend in the food world with their oft-buzzed about anti-oxidant content, and it didn’t take long for them to be sold seeded at the grocery store, their juice to be bottled, and, finally, mixed into cocktails (the only logical final step). Not only do I find these innovations to be disappointing in flavor (am I the only one who thinks pomegranate juice is yuck?), but they take the fun and beauty out of the process of cracking open the fruit and exploring each nook and cranny within it, working for every seed. So put on a bib, roll up your sleeves, and dig in, because now is the time.
Honorable Mention: Lobster. Technically not a fruit or vegetable, but this is the time when lobsters are really great to eat. Most people think of them as a summer favorite, but their shells are harder and their meat is tastier in the months that end in “ber”.