A Taste of Autumn
The temperatures are changing and so are my thoughts about what to eat this season. The tastes of summer are slowly fading and there is a whole new array of delicious vegetables to satisfy me. Autumn brings fruits and vegetables that pair well together. Some notable pairings include apples and winter squash, greens and onions, and pears and pork.
The lingering summer temperatures kept me from thinking about purchasing apples but, one bite of a Honeycrisp quickly remind me of why I bought them. Remember, each apple brings its own special texture and taste. Your local vendor and orchard can help you determine which apple is for you. How you wish to prepare and consume your apple often leads to a certain variety. Mutsu are well suited for baking. Honeycrisp are considered the premier eating apple and remain a favorite at the NC Apple Festival in Hendersonville, NC. Early season apples include Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, and Mutsu. You will need to wait until later in the season to enjoy Stayman, Pink Lady, and Limbertwig.
Autumn meal planning leads me to recall my favorite pairing of apples and butternut squash; Curry Scented Butternut Squash Soup. This recipe has become a favorite at the local Cooperative Extension office. Our 4-H Program Receptionist, Diana Ford first introduced us to this recipe and we have already enjoyed our first pot of soup this season. Since butternut squash stores well when picked and cured properly, it can be enjoyed throughout the fall and winter easily. This recipe also lends itself well to some additions and substitutions. Sauteed poblano peppers or greens, and a dollop of light sour cream or greek yogurt seems to compliment it nicely.
Curry-Scented Butternut Squash Soup, courtesy of Pampered Chef http://www.pamperedchef.com/recipe
1 butternut squash, 2 1/2 lbs (6 cups cubed)
2 large sweet apples such as Fuji or Honeycrisp
3 medium onions
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 container (8 oz) mascarpone cheese
2 tsp salt
Using a serrated peeler; peel squash and apples; cut into 1-in. cubes and dice onions.
Melt butter in an eight quart stockpot over medium-low heat. Add onions; cook 5-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash, apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir 1 minute or until curry powder is fragrant. Add stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 24-26 minutes or until squash is very soft. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle about one-third of the squash mixture into blender container. Cover and blend until smooth. Repeat two times with remaining squash mixture. Return soup to Stock Pot and whisk in mascarpone and salt until mascarpone is completely incorporated. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and remove from heat.
Yield: 12 cups, 8 servings of 1 1/2 cups
Nutrients per serving: Calories 310, Total Fat 16 g, Saturated Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 45 mg, Carbohydrate 39 g, Protein 8 g, Sodium 950 mg, Fiber 5 g
Nutritionally, butternut squash cubed and baked without seasoning provides 82 calories in a one cup serving and a healthy dose of Potassium and Vitamin A. If you are seeking more information about autumn vegetables, how to prepare them, and their nutirtional value; two great resources include N.C. Cooperative Extension’s, The Produce Lady www.theproducelady.org and the USDA nutrition database http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list If you wish to incorportate winter squash into your garden, please contact Caldwell Cooperative Extension, Horticulture/Local Foods Agent, Amanda Taylor at 828.757.1290, email@example.com
Eating in season brings produce at its peak to your kitchen. I hope you enjoy the new colors, flavors, and recipes as much as I do. With autumn just weeks away, our local orchards and vendors are ready to help you bring home the jewels of this season: winter squash, greens, apples, and pears.