In Fall, for a little while, a zing of fantastic new flavors that fit together to bring out the best of each more than makes up for the diminishing selection of fresh, local produce. The bittersweetness of these delights is that they have a relatively short season, though a few of the best, like winter squash, store quite a long time on counters and shelves and in basement corners, and then even longer prepared and frozen.
These three dishes pair wonderfully as a full meal, make great Thanksgiving (or any other Fall meal) apps and sides, or can be two separate main dishes plus salad).
Squash and Mushroom Soup
Serves 6-8 as a starter, 4-6 as a main dish
2 butternut squash
10 oz. crimini or baby bell mushrooms
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garam marsala
3 T olive oil
1 T chicken or vegetable glaces (or 1 cube bouillon)
1 T truffle oil
½ lb. Hen of the Woods (mushrooms)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. truffle salt
Preheat oven to 350. Slice the butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. Place skin-side up on a baking pan with ¼ cup water. Roast until soft, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel off skin. Set aside. You can also freeze the squash at this point and store it for up to 3 months.
Slice the onions. Over high heat, with 1 T olive oil, brown lightly, then caramelize by reducing heat to low and cooking another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Slice mushrooms and add to onions. Bring heat back up to medium and saute until mushrooms are soft, 5-10 minutes.
Add stock, squash, 2 tsp. salt, glaces or bouillon, garam marsala, and pepper, bring to a low simmer and cook 30 min.
Meanwhile, cut Hen of the Woods into ½" thick slices, toss on a cookie sheet with 2 T olive oil, 2 gloves minced garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt, and roast at 375 for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Remove from oven and sprinkle with truffle salt.
Scoop soup into bowls. Drizzle truffle oil into each bowl. Then float 1-2 pieces of Hen of the Woods on top. Serve immediately.
Roasted Vegetable Corn Bread Tart, two ways
Serves 6-8 as a main dish, many more as sides depending how you do it
1 acorn squash
2 oz. grated parmesan
1 cup roasted tomatoes, blended (or 1 cup tomato sauce)
2 red onions
2 green peppers
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
2 recipes corn bread tart crust
Preheat oven to 350. Cut the acorn squash in half, remove seeds, place flat side down on a baking pan with ¼ cup water and roast until soft, about 45 minutes. Scoop out the flesh. At this point, you can freeze the flesh for up to 3 months. Mix with 2 oz. grated parmesan, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Set aside.
Cut red onions into quarters. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Peel beets and slice into ¼” thick rounds. Peel carrots, cut in half and then slice each half lengthwise once down the middle and then once again, into ¼” thick strips. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and roast at 350 until soft, about 45 minutes. After removing from oven, peel skin off green peppers and cut into strips.
Meanwhile, pour the crust onto oiled cookie pans. If serving as a main dish, pour each full recipe onto one cookie pan and spread to almost fill the pan. If serving as a side dish, do the same or pour into palm-sized (or cookie-sized) rounds on oiled cookie pans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Spread half with acorn squash mixture and half with roasted tomato blend. Then sprinkle with grated cheese, and top with a mixture of the roasted vegetables. Return to oven and bake at 350 for another 10 minutes.
Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Salad
1 large stem Brussels sprouts
2 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, (rinsed if fresh)
1 T butter
¼ cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350.
Pick sprouts off of the stem and wash thoroughly. Cut large sprouts in half, lengthwise.
Put Brussels sprouts on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Roast, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a frying pan. Add cranberries and saute for 5 minutes, stirring. Add syrup and saute for another 5 minutes.
Toss Brussels sprouts and cranberries together. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately or at room temperature.