Autumn Harvest: Supporting Our Farmers (+ Fall Recipes & Announcement!)

When I first moved to New York City, the only farmer’s market was in Union Square. Saturday’s I’d meander downtown and marvel at vegetable varietals I never knew existed. Purple tomatoes, rainbow chard, maitake mushrooms, orange cauliflower and white eggplants? How fantastic! There, in the bustling stalls of the Union Square Market my passion for cooking took off.

Since then, Markets have proliferated, and are now as ubiquitous to the NYC landscape as Citibikes. Within blocks of home, I find inspiration for the week’s menu from a seasonal assortment of fruits and vegetables and Autumn’s harvest is the best because nature is bursting with offerings.

If you value good, clean food, I encourage you to find your local farmer’s market and purchase as much as you can from its vendors. You’re not only supporting an important economy, you’re participating in the preservation of a food ideology that’s struggling in the face of big business agriculture. It’s not enough to believe that GMO foods should be labeled in order to know what you’re eating. Better is to vote with your dollars by buying non-GMO foods. Where you spend your money says more about your beliefs and values than the ballots you cast on voting day.

Today, I’m sharing my recent market purchases and all that can be created with them. I often hear from clients that they’ll buy vegetables with the best intentions, only to throw them away later in the week for lack of ideas and preparation. Hopefully you’ll see that there’s a lot you can do with fresh food and a well thought out plan. ENJOY!

Heirloom tomatoes make me happy. Colorful, plump and sweet, they enliven salads and make excellent side dishes. Chopped with fresh basil and avocado, they’re great with my breakfast veggie omelet. I’ll also use them to make Heirloom Gazpacho, garnished with avocado chunks. On late nights I’ll dice them up for a wonderful Pasta Roma, a fresh and comforting meal to end a busy day. Not into pasta? Then use the same tomato mixture over grilled chicken for a delicious protein-rich, low-carb option.

I love herbs! Fragrant and beautiful, they add so much flavor to meals. Minced, raw herbs blended with olive oil and lemon juice go well on salads and are healthier than bottled dressings. Dill or cilantro work well for this but so would mint and basil. Mint gives a nice bite to Vietnamese Spring Rolls and a fantastic kick of flavor to my green juice. I also garnish sparkling water with sprigs of it and a splash of lemon juice. Refreshing!

heirloomtomatoes

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pinenuts

Purple basil is at the end of its season, but I made fresh pesto that I’ll freeze and enjoy all winter long in soups and pastas. I’ll also use a mixture of these herbs to spice up olives.

Autumn’s cranberry bean season, which always reminds me of my mother-in-law, Jennie. Every fall we’d go to her local market and get bags of perfect tie-dyed beans that she’d expertly simmer into a rich Pasta Fagiole, a staple in my Autumn kitchen. Sometimes for variety, I’ll add ground, organic turkey sausage (also a Farmer’s Market purchase) and fresh vegetables making a wholesome Minestrone Soup instead. Both versions are served with a big dollop of fresh pesto. Perfect on a cold winter night!

As the weather cools I’ll pick up meaty maitake mushrooms and make a comforting immune boosting soup. These health-enhancing mushrooms help keep me from catching cold. You can also add them to your vegetable omelet in the morning or bake with a little olive oil for a nice side dish.

Green leafy vegetables are cornerstones of my diet and I alternate them weekly. Red chard was this week’s purchase which I sautéed with garlic and olive oil, tossed with rice pasta and topped off with chopped fresh tomatoes and pesto. You can also chiffonade the leaves and add to salads for additional nutritional heft. Sometimes I’ll steam and dress them with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of Himalayan Salt. Simple and yummy. What I don’t use in my cooking, I’ll add to my green juices, particularly greens with thick stalks like kale.

maitake

farmersmarketmeals

beans

No trip to the market would be complete without stocking up on apples, whose one-a-day credo I live by. Sweet Honey Crisps are my favorite. There’s nothing better at 4pm than a crispy apple with almond butter to boost my energy and stamina, although they’re amazing plain too. I’ll also buy smaller amounts of different varieties to sweeten green juices. As they soften or become bruised, I’ll peel, chop and simmer them into apple compote, that I use to top raw granola or porridge. I’ll also enjoy it on it’s own as a quick snack. Currently, I’m working on a gluten-free, lightly sweetened apple crumble, so stay tuned for that.

What’s not prepared and eaten is frozen in a large Ziploc bag. To this I add every knob, scrap and wilted vegetable left over. This includes stems of herbs, skins of garlic and onions, ends of carrots, bruised tomato bits; all are the raw ingredients of my homemade vegetable stock. I like the efficiency of using fragments of one meal to create the base of future meals. As it simmers, I consider what’ll come of it, planning next weeks menu. African Peanut Stew? Mexican Pozole? Or perhaps beet, ginger and coconut soup? Let’s see what the market offers and decide.

Staying on a healthy eating plan is made much easier when you have a variety of wonderful meals to choose from. If you commit to making one recipe a week that you can freeze, you’ll have a fridge full of options in no time. Once you get into the habit, you’ll see that cooking at home is accessible, healthy and cost efficient. Using fresh, organic ingredients that you purchased at the Farmer’s Market is an additional boon to your wellbeing.

ANNOUNCEMENT:

It’s time for some time off!

Don’t worry, not for long 🙂

I’m taking the next two weeks to organize and create some recipes I have in mind to make future Motivational Monday’s more… well, motivational. Enjoy the start of Fall and keep smiling!

xo
B

Pasta Fagiole

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 1-15 oz carton POM crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (you can also use chicken broth)
  • 1.5 cups fresh cranberry beans (or 1 can cannellini or Great Northern beans)
  • Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste
  • Cooked rice pasta

Directions

  • Using a stock pot, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent then add the garlic and cook till fragrant. Add the oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and stir.
  • Add stock, tomatoes and beans and bring to a simmer. Simmer until beans are tender if using fresh, about an hour to an hour and a half. Canned beans can be cooked for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend together.
  • Stir in fresh basil. Adjust salt and pepper.
  • Turn off heat and allow to cool somewhat before serving.
  • In soup bowls, place a couple of tablespoons of cooked rice pasta. Ladle soup over pasta and garnish with a dollop of pesto and chopped fresh basil. Enjoy!

Sautéed Greens with Garlic Over Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of greens like chard, spinach or kale, clean, chopped, with stems removed (save them for green juices)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic (or to taste preference… I use 4 J)
  • 1-tablespoon olive oil
  • Homemade vegetable stock (chicken stock is fine too), about ½ cup
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • Himalayan salt
  • Rice pasta
  • Garnish: Chopped fresh heirloom tomatoes and pesto

Directions

  • Bring water to a boil to make the pasta. Cook according to package instructions.
  • In a frying pan, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic. Add red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook until fragrant.
  • Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth, creating a sauce. You’ll be cooking all the greens in this sauce so if it feels like it won’t be enough to coat and flavor all the greens, add more stock, simmering with the garlic and red pepper.
  • Once it’s simmered for a couple of minutes, add the greens. Using tongs, turn the greens to submerge in sauce. Cover and cook until greens are wilted. Remove cover and allow the sauce to thicken a little bit.
  • When pasta is cooked, drain and add to the green mixture. Toss well and serve with chopped fresh tomatoes and a dollop of pesto. Enjoy!

Tomato, Avocado Salad

tomatoavocadosalad

Ingredients

  • Chopped Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Olive oil, Sat and pepper

Directions

  • Toss together and enjoy as a side with vegetable omelet, on grilled chicken or as a stand alone salad.

Turkey Minestrone

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 1-15 oz carton POM crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (you can also use chicken broth)
  • 2 cups fresh cranberry beans (or 2 cans cannellini or Great Northern beans)
  • 10 ounces organic ground sweet turkey sausage
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 5 to 6 asparagus stalks, chopped
  • (You can really use any vegetable you like/have left over)
  • Himalayan salt and black pepper to taste
  • Cooked rice pasta

Directions

  • Using a stock pot, heat the olive oil and brown the crumbled turkey sausage. Add the onion and sauté until translucent then add the garlic and cook till fragrant. Add the oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and stir.
  • Stir in celery and carrots. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add stock, tomatoes and beans and bring to a simmer. Simmer until beans are tender if using fresh, about an hour to an hour and a half. Canned beans can be cooked for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend together.
  • Once beans are tender, stir in fresh vegetables and basil. Simmer until veggies begin to soften. Turn off heat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Allow to cool somewhat before serving.
  • In soup bowls, place a couple of tablespoons of cooked rice pasta. Ladle soup over pasta and garnish with a dollop of pesto and chopped fresh basil. Enjoy!

Share Your Thoughts...

4 comments on “Autumn Harvest: Supporting Our Farmers (+ Fall Recipes & Announcement!)

  1. Karen

    Hi Barbara, it’s so nice that you will take a short break. You so diserve it. You are always faithfully there on Monday mornings motivating us all with such great info.
    I loved todays ideas and recipes.
    Enjoy your timeoff and try not to work to hard 🙂

    xo Karen

    Reply
  2. jayne foster

    Hiya Barbara, I’m Fozzie lol Stephens cousin jayne. I read your motivational Mondays and I love it. I was wondering if you could tell me how to make pesto and poss homemade marinara. I juice daily and I find it wonderful. Thank you for your Blog and recipes. Stay young xxx

    Reply

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