Autumn is finally here, much later than we’re used to. There are no doubts left about global warming and farmers are among those who will be hit the most in the coming years (in fact, they already are): they will be forced to either migrate to higher latitudes/altitudes or rethink their productions by changing the crops they grow and diversify (monoculture is for losers). We as consumers will have to help them, learning to buy what’s in season much more than we do now. And being surprised by what’s STILL in season…
Take green tomatoes for example. We bet you we’ll still pick them in December this year. These are tomatoes which haven’t reached ripeness because of the falling temperatures and shorter days, remaining green instead of turning bright red. A key ingredient in classic southern food culture, we enjoy them raw, pickled, sautéed and fried too.
The “Brassica” family is another precious food jewel of autumn: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, mustards, kale, turnips and cabbage. Nature is truly incredible since it provides us at the right time with food that is rich in nutrients and vitamins our bodies need to face the cold months ahead, and this whole family of veggies does precisely this. 99% of the times we think they taste awful simply because we overcook them.
But the secret is to keep them super-crunchy by quick blanching, roasting, charring, sautéing at high flame or steaming them. Try any of these techniques but cook them much, much less than you’ve ever done before. You’ll not just experience an entirely different flavor (this works for basically ALL vegetables), you’ll throw in your system top nutrients believed to be incredible towards cancer prevention, among other things.
Then there’s chicories, like endive, escarole, radicchio and, well, chicory of course. Most of us aren’t so used to appreciating their bitter flavor, though often bitter is better since it stands for their nutritional compounds (anti-oxidants for instance). Have fun in the kitchen and play with it. To balance the bitterness use salt (it kills it) or fat (which underlines it). Think about a pasta with sausage and chicory (yummmmmmmmmyyyyy….).
Of course it’s also time to abuse of all kinds of squashes & pumpkins, tasty green such as spinach and chard, beetroots of all colors, mushrooms, nuts (surtout chestnuts and pecans) and autumn fruits: apples (there’s a THOUSAND varieties out there, don’t just focus on the usual 5, pick your local favorite!), pears, persimmons, pomegranates, muscadines…
Days might be getting shorter, and soon we’ll be wearing our winter coats. But in terms of variety and flavor this is the most exciting season for food!