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November produce: Out with the chard and in with the kale

Just as it’s time to trade in your favorite gladiator sandals for Steve Madden boots, it’s also time to switch from those earthy wild mushrooms to the prized truffle (like Beyoncé says, “let me upgrade u”).

October is wrapping up with all of its artificial, tooth-aching glory, and is handing over the reigns to the month of our roots (you know, the month of the pilgrims!). The wicked witches, with their “so last month” buckled hats and striped leggings, are forced out on their broom sticks by the marching in of the turkeys. Thanksgiving in. Halloween Out.

Pumpkin

Source: Cheese and Chocolate

Source: Cheese and Chocolate

First things first. You’re probably trying to figure out what to do with all of the pumpkin you have left over. Just know that while pumpkins may start growing in September, they’re known to be a good store vegetables and are, thus, “seasonal” all through the cold months! You can go the traditional route and heave canned pumpkin into a pie crust with cinnamon and nutmeg (one way that never goes out of style), or try these delicious ways to transform pumpkin while, at the same time, cleaning out your cupboard and making room for new November treats.

Way number one: roasted pumpkin. Any vegetable can be roasted, but being of the squash family, pumpkins become tender and sweet when they hit the blistering heat of the oven. So, crank up that convection oven (or toaster oven…either works!) to 450°, drizzle olive oil over roughly chopped pieces of pumpkin, sprinkle on seasoning(s) of your choice (go crazy, be creative!) and you’ll be on your way to a beautiful meal. My Tasty Tufts Tip for this recipe: make as many pieces of these roasted morsels as you’d like; any leftovers can be tossed in a pot, heated up and blended together with a bit of chicken stock to convert that perfect side dish to the perfect soup on a brisk November night.

Stuffed peppers? Yes.  Stuffed turkey? Yes. But, have you ever heard of a stuffed pumpkin? Pumpkin does not just have to be roasted in pieces; it can also be roasted whole (rind and all). After scooping out the seeds (which you can roast simultaneously or at a later date for a seasonal late night snack), place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and coat the inside generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, mix together any ingredients your heart desires (recommendation: bread cubes, nutmeg, your favorite cheese and cranberries is a perfect blend of nice and spice), pile it into your little Jack-O-lantern, cap it off and place it into a 350° oven, where the flavors will marry, fuse and fill your kitchen (in your dorm?) with the smell of innovation and originality.

As you become the next Rachel Ray of our generation, utilizing a fall favorite in a myriad of ways, do not forget about the other November nibbles that are ready to be picked, prepared and panned.

Brussels Sprouts

Source: The Fruit Guys Almanac

Source: The Fruit Guys Almanac

These little fiends received their “bad rep” faster than their odor travels, but cooked the right way, the stench will be masked and the sweet and buttery flavor will come through. My Tasty Tufts Tip: pan roast them with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (if you’re looking for an extra punch of heat) and bacon (or tofurkey if you’re a vegetarian) until fork tender. Sizzling, these little guys should be a scrumptious side to any November meal.

Cranberries

Source: Blissyfit

Source: Blissyfit

These magical berries may not be able to alter your taste buds, but they sure are ready to be picked and served during this month of the precious birthstone, Topaz. Cans of jellied cranberry and bags of craisins can be stocked any month of the year, but while you have these juicy berries fresh, use, cook and devour them! My Tasty Tufts Tip for these tart little pomes: add them to any dish that needs that perfect burst of tart, yet pleasing, juice. At mi casa (not “La Casa”—though I am sure they could make a mean meal with cranberries), my mother puts these red drops of delectableness into her meatloaf. They add just the right amount of acidity to cut through the fatty tones of the meat. Yet, why stop here? I say, apply cranberries to all loaves and do not be stingy (the more the berrier)! Whether in a meatloaf or even in a quick pumpkin bread recipe, cranberries will change the way you make ordinary meals faster than the leaves are changing color.

Now that we’re in the middle of November, it’s out with the wild mushrooms and Swiss chard, and in with the cranberries, pumpkin, horseradish, pomegranates, truffles, clams and kale. What would you make with these November foods?  Just remember, foods change faster than the seasons, so, just because you can still get away with wearing thong sandals doesn’t mean that you can still cook with peaches, (at least not during Turkey Month in Massachusetts)! Have a very happy Turkey-Cranberry-Pumpkin-Horseradish-Pomegranate-Truffle-Clam-Kale Day!

-Jay Sheintop

Cover photo source.

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