Quick and Tasty Fall Dishes

It is harvest time and I am preserving every fresh vegetable I can get my hands on!   In my world, that means canning and freezing.  With a preservation frenzy in full swing, there is not a lot of time for fixing big elaborate dinners in my kitchen.  I am more likely to prepare a few salads/dishes that can be made on the weekend and then quickly pulled out and served during the week.  Here are a few of my favorites.

This Apple Fennel salad is magnificent!  Lots of great flavors and don’t forget the goat cheese at the end!

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Apple and Fennel Salad with Goat Cheese
(serves 4)

Dressing
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (olive oil if you prefer)
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp salt

2 fennel bulbs, stems removed and bulbs thinly sliced
2 apples (galas are my favorite for this, but any sweet red apple will do) cored and chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or almonds
3-4 sprigs of mint, rinsed, leaves removed and sliced thin
4 oz of goat cheese, crumbled

  • Whisk all dressing ingredients together and adjust to your taste. Set aside.
  • Place the fennel, apples, jalapeno, dates, nuts and mint in a bowl and toss. Drizzle the dressing on top and toss until well coated.
  • Place in fridge for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend.
  • Toss salad again before serving and top with crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy!

Who doesn’t enjoy a big ole’ pot of sweet and tangy baked beans on an autumn afternoon? We do! What if you could get a healthy dose of greens in there too? This is our favorite recipe for baked beans with the addition of kale.   The best part is it makes a super easy leftover for a second dinner; just reheat on low in a saucepan (w/lid) with a little water to keep it from sticking to the bottom…dinner is served!

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Kale/Swiss Chard and BBQ Baked Beans
adapted from Great American Recipes
(serves 6)

8 slices of bacon (certainly can be omitted if you are not a meat eater)
2 cups onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans
15-20 leaves of kale/swiss chard, destemmed and chopped fine

Sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

  • Place all sauce ingredients into a medium size bowl and whisk till smooth. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 and move racks far enough down to accommodate a large baking pot with lid, such as a dutch oven or Le crueset pot.
  • On the stove top, preheat large dutch oven or Le crueset to medium high, lay in bacon strips and cook, turning occasionally, till crisp. Remove and place on paper towel, leaving bacon fat in the pot. Add the onions and garlic, sautéing for a few minutes until onions are translucent.
  • Meanwhile, place the beans in a colander and rinse thoroughly, drain and then add to the onion/garlic mixture. Chop the bacon and also add.  Then add the kale and stir to mix well with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour the sauce on top, mix to fully coat and put the lid on the pot. Place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top begins to look carmelized and darker in color. Don’t let it burn! Remove and serve with tortilla chips for dipping, keeping in mind that it will be screaming hot for another 30 minutes so do be careful!

What to do with all the eggplant, right? Here is a simple and absolutely delicious combination, using eggplant and those beautiful red peppers. If you are really trying to eat seasonally you will notice there are some windows of opportunity for certain combinations of veggies that you simply cannot wait to arrive. We have been enjoying this dish for years and anxiously await the season!

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Roasted Eggplant Spread
adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa’s Cookbook
serves 4, as an appetizer

1 medium eggplant, not peeled (I used 3 of the skinner purple ones last week and it was the perfect amount)
2 small red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs olive oil
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs tomato paste (open a small can, scoop out the 1 Tbs and put the rest on a wax paper and into the freezer

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut the eggplant, bell pepper and onion into 1-inch cubes.
    Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly.
  • Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. It should still be chunky but in small enough pieces to spread on crackers or pita bread.
  • Adjust seasonings (salt and pepper). Serve with your favorite pita chips, tortilla chips, or crackers.

Most nights I give my son a choice between two vegetables, one that I want him to try and one that I know he doesn’t like, (a Mama has to have a few tricks!).  Either way it is beneficial, because he usually ends up liking a new one or at least we get a second shot at a prior rejected veggie. One night, my son declared he would try the cauliflower, chosen over mushrooms, (okay, I was really desperate to get him to try the cauliflower).  But he promised, “Mama, I know I won’t like it.” After eating a second helping, I gently reminded him of the Green Eggs and Ham story (Dr. Suess), with Sam, who swore he wouldn’t like those green eggs and ham….until he finally tried them!

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Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon/ Tahini Sauce
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
(serves 4)

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into 1″ florets
4 tsp of olive oil, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
2 Tbs tahini
1 Tbs lemon juice
5 Tbs of water
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

  • Place oven rack in top position. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Toss cauliflower with 2 tsp olive oil, and season with salt. Spread on large cookie sheet, and bake on top rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork-tender and slightly browned.
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tsp olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic in oil 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in tahini, lemon juice, 5 Tbs water and salt. Simmer over low heat 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Divide cauliflower among plates. Whisk sauce, then spoon over cauliflower. Sprinkle with parsley and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Funny thing about Swiss Chard/Kale…it looks like a whole big pile of green stuff, until you cook it and it transforms into a tiny little pile of green stuff!  If this recipe looks familiar, that would be because I posted the same combination for pizza in the beginning of the season. I am including it again, but in a sandwich format, because it works so well with the weekly kale/swiss chard pickup and has turned out to be one of our favorites, especially with my 4-year-old!

In order to make 2 sandwiches each for 3 people (6 sandwiches total), you need 20 leaves of greens, so I stock-pile and after two weeks of pickup I am ready to make them. Yes, greens can be left unwashed (for some reason they last longer this way) and wrapped in a ziplock bag, for 2 weeks.

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Swiss Chard, Cheddar and BBQ sauce on Sourdough
(serves 3, two sandwiches each)

– 20 leaves of swiss chard, stems removed, chopped fine
– salt
– 1 Tbs bacon fat or olive oil
– 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce (you can use your favorite, but if you don’t have a favorite you can use mine (listed below this recipe).   I am sure once you try it, you will be hooked.  This is the kind of Q-sauce that makes an old shoe edible!
cheddar cheese, sliced (enough for your preference, I do two slices per sandwich)
– good sourdough bread, thickly sliced and buttered on one side (I use Nantucket Bakery or Wealthy Street Bakery for sourdough, but in a pinch you can get garlic bread loaves at Costco that work pretty good too)

  • Heat a large iron skillet to medium and add the bacon fat or olive oil. Heat to medium, add the finely chopped swiss chard/kale and mix to thoroughly coat with the oil. Cook for about 4 minutes, occasionally stirring so it doesn’t burn or stick to the skillet.
  • Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan with BBQ sauce, and turn on low. 
  • Remove the kale from the skillet and scrape into the saucepan with the BBQ sauce. Stir and heat for a minute, until warm and bubbly, but not boiling. Turn off the burner and move the BBQ/kale mixture to the side.
  • Clean out the same skillet, heat to medium and butter well. Place four slices of bread in the skillet, butter side down.
  • Layer on the cheese and put a lid on the skillet for just a minute or two, until the cheese melts. The lid helps the cheese melt, but you have to make sure your skillet is not up too high which would cause the bottom of the bread to burn.  When the cheese is melted, use a metal spatula to remove each piece of bread to a plate.
  • Place the matching pieces of bread into the skillet, butter side down. Spread a heaping spoonful of the BBQ/Kale mixture on top of each piece of bread.   Place the corresponding cheese/bread slice on top, making it a complete sandwich.
  • This method of constructing the sandwich helps you avoid trying to flip the sandwiches, which is tricky once you add the BBQ/Kale mixture.
  • Allow the underside of the bread to cook till browned, remove and serve. These will be screaming hot, so don’t dive in until they have cooled a few minutes. Enjoy!

BBQ Sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (you can buy these at Meijer in the International aisle.

  • Whisk all ingredients in a small saucepan on medium heat until bubbly on sides of the saucepan. Remove, cool, store in a mason jar in fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy the last couple weeks of the summer CSA pickup.  If you wish to continue on with your veggies, don’t forget to sign up for the Winter CSA, which runs from November thru mid December! 
Lisa McLean

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This entry was posted in cauliflower, chard, eggplant, fennel, garlic, gluten free, kale, parsley, sweet peppers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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