(ARA) – When the calendar turns to fall months, temperatures drop and local football teams come to mind. With the approach of the cooler weather, many of us also begin to yearn for the warmth of comfort foods like hearty soups and stews or freshly baked pies, but these traditional favorites need not be boring and unhealthy. A modern take on comfort foods uses what is fresh and available during the season, but also explores new ingredients and stretches your imagination to look at old ingredients or recipes in new ways.
Regardless of where in the country you live, fall produce is becoming abundantly available. For some regions, families have begun making their annual pilgrimage to the local orchard to pick apples or pears, and pumpkins are maturing in the backyard garden waiting to be turned into jack-o-lanterns. But even if these crops aren’t possible to grow in your area, fresh autumn favorites like pumpkins, apples, parsnips and kale are still most likely making frequent appearances at local farmers markets and grocery stores.
Roast them, stew them, can them or bake them. Pumpkin, squash, root vegetables, apples and pears make for great cuisine that the whole family can enjoy. For a new take on old favorites, try adding rutabaga slices to your au gratin potato recipe or pop some cubed squash in while cooking up your family’s favorite beef stew.
Get the whole family involved and take the kids along to the market to find new vegetables to sample. Getting everyone interested in new flavors can be exciting. Sample some unfamiliar items and find new favorites. Kids will enjoy comparing the flavors of roasted carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, yams, potatoes, jicama and squash when marinated in a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Decide which flavors your family prefers and make this a seasonal tradition to cook up together annually.
Whether you’ve grown your own produce or pick it up at the market, America’s Test Kitchen and Miracle-Gro have teamed up to provide fresh new recipes and tips on fall gardening at www.scotts.com/GroYourOwn. Sample some of these delicious recipes while incorporating fall plants and produce into the menu and even learn which fall crops are best to grow in your area of the country.
Of course, nothing compares with the satisfaction of growing your own produce. Even if you didn’t plant a garden this year, why not make plans for one next year? With just a sunny place for a container on the balcony or a small plot in the backyard, you can easily plant your own garden to grow fresh squash, rutabagas or carrots in the spring to be enjoyed by your family next fall. If you prefer the crunch of a freshly picked apple, try planting a dwarf apple tree instead.
As the temperatures drop, enjoy the season’s harvest by incorporating locally grown produce into the menu. Start reviewing new recipes to try for family and friends and test their reactions. With the hearty flavors of freshly grown and harvested vegetables from the garden, everyone will be clamoring for more.