November 16, 2016

Taste of Fall

Taste of Fall

It’s that time! The changing colors of the leaves and cool crisp weather marks the seasonal change from summer to fall. As a Chef, it’s my favorite time of the year to cook with family and friends and enjoy comforting foods that highlight the fall season.

The flavors of fall welcome open flame tail gate grilling, hearty soups, chili and family favorite baked goods. Fall is time to stock your pantry with “good keepers” such as long-lasting squash, hearty root vegetables and comforting whole grains inspiring the basis of hearty stews, risottos. These one-pot master pieces can be complimented with aromatic low and slow cooked meats that warm the heart and soothe the soul. Stock your pantry with these all favorites:

Fresh Seasonal Vegetables:

  • Winter Squash: butternut, acorn, delicate and spaghetti
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Heart Greens: Collard, Swiss Chard


  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Farro
  • Steel Cut Oats

Fresh Seasonal Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Pomegranates

Pulses – Legumes – Beans:

  • Black Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Lentils
  • Split Peas
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Dried or Canned (no or low sodium)

Fall vegetables are perfect for roasting. This brings out their rich, earthy flavors and enhances the sweetness within. Roasted vegetables are perfect in stews, soups and risottos. They also can be made into a quick fall salad or served as hearty side dish. Dice fall vegetables into two inch pieces, place on a baking sheet, lightly spray with olive oil and season with your favorite herbs and spices (thyme, rosemary, garlic, and even cinnamon). Roast in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and softened.

Try adding diced pears, apples and pomegranate seeds to green salads and enjoy a burst of sweet and tart flavors, while adding appealing colors and contrasting textures. Whole grains and pulses add texture, fiber and amazing flavor to most dishes. Try replacing rice with quinoa in with your favorite chili or soups. Steel cuts oats also make the prefect warm breakfast as the mornings become cool.

If you haven’t worked pulse in to you daily rotation, the time is now! Pulses, paired with whole grains, are the least expensive and most nutritious food sources available. The protein in pulses and beans are incomplete because of a deficiency in one or more amino acids. Once paired with grains or a small amount of an animal product, these foods complete the protein in legumes by providing complementary amino acids. They are low in fat, loaded with high-energy complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. Pulses and beans have more protein than any other vegetable foods.

Here are some quick tips for easy preparation of pulses:

-Sort to remove any stones and debris and then wash to remove dirt and dust.

– With the exception of lentils, split peas all dried beans should be soaked in cold water for 6-8 hours, and refrigerated.

– Drain soaking liquid and cover beans with clean water to cook.

– Simmer on low heat completely covered with water until al dente, rapid boiling causes the skin to fall off and the beans to break apart.

– Add salt after cooking. They will double in size after cooking.

One of my all-time favorites are chick peas, they are very versatile and are used through the world. Try making homemade hummus or use in your favorite stew or salads.

Butternut Squash Farro Risotto with Brussel Sprouts                          

Makes 8 servings

For the Roasted Butternut Squash

  • 2 cups finely diced butternut
  • 1/8 teaspoon extra olive oil in spritzer bottle
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

For the Risotto

  • 1/8 teaspoon extra olive oil in spritzer bottle
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1/2 cup white wine (reduced to 1 tbsp.)
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Finishing Risotto

  • 2 teaspoons extra olive oil in spritzer bottle
  • 2 cups fresh, peeled Brussel sprouts petals
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash from above

For the Roasted Squash: Pre-heat oven to 425F. Place squash on baking pan, mist with olive oil and sprinkle with nutmeg and fresh oregano. Roast in oven for 5 minutes to just soften and lightly brown.

For the Broth: Heat a medium saucepot over medium high heat and mist with olive oil. Stir in onions and butternut squash and sauté until soft about 3-4 minutes. Deglaze with vegetable stock 1 tablespoon at a time if needed to prevent from sticking. Stir in vegetable stock. Bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat. Add nutmeg and oregano, simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until squash is soft. Carefully puree squash mixture until smooth using a high-speed blender.

For the Risotto: Pour broth in a medium saucepot, bring to boil and reduce heat to keep warm. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Mist pan with olive oil, stir in onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in farro to toast and coat well with onions and olive oil. Stir continuously until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. (Do not brown. If more moisture is needed add 1 tablespoon of stock). Stir in white wine and reduce until almost dry about 1 tablespoon. Stir in broth about ½ cup at a time and reduce heat to slow simmer to allow farro to absorb stock. Repeat cooking farro in this manner for about 20-25 minute until the farro is al dente. Stir in freshly grated parmesan to create creamy consistency, season with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and fresh pepper to taste. Divide among 8 serving plates.

To Finish Risotto: Heat large sauté pan over medium high heat. Mist pan with olive oil, add Brussel sprouts and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Stir in diced roasted butternut squash and spoon equally on top of risotto.

Per 1 serving:

Calories 196 |Protein 5g | Total Fat 3.5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Carbs 38g | Dietary Fiber 4g| Cholesterol 2mg | Sodium: 712 mg

Written By:

Chef Cary Neff


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