by Jolene Adams, coordinator, LLCC Culinary Institute
The mercury is dropping and the nights are getting longer. Time to trade in flip flops for hoodies, sorbet for soup and the fresh fruits and crisp vegetables of summer for the earthy gourds and the hearty beans of the harvest months.
Autumn is definitely my favorite season, and the cooler weather has me all fired up to do some fall cooking and baking. Late summer and early fall harvest provide us with some hearty ingredients we can use to create delicious comfort dishes, perfect for an autumn feast. Some of my favorite fall dishes feature flavors of pears, butternut squash, pumpkin, eggplant and Brussels sprouts. Here are a few recipes that embrace hearty fall flavors.
Almond Pear Tart
From Taste of Home
YIELD: 8 servings
Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups sliced peeled fresh pears (about 4 medium)
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a 10-inch circle. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar and flour; add pears and toss to coat. Spoon over the pastry to within 2 inches of edges. Fold up edges of pastry over filling, leaving center uncovered. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Sprinkle with almonds; bake 5 minutes longer. Using the parchment paper, slide tart onto a wire rack to cool.
Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Gratin with Pine Nut-Breadcrumb Topping
From Bon Appetit
10 to 12 Servings
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, quartered lengthwise through core
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small florets
2 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Fill large bowl with ice and cold water. Cook Brussels sprouts in large pot of generously salted boiling water 2 minutes. Add cauliflower to same pot; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Drain. Transfer vegetables to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well.
Combine cream, shallots, and sage in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture is reduced, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool. Stir in pine nuts and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish; arrange half of vegetables in dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Arrange remaining vegetables evenly over, then sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Pour cream mixture evenly over. Save time and make ahead- breadcrumb topping and gratin can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
Preheat oven to 375. Cover gratin with foil. Bake covered 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle breadcrumb topping over and bake uncovered 15 minutes longer
Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon
Makes 2-1/2 quarts
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
42 ounces vegetable stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
Crystallized ginger, fresh cracked pepper, optional
In a small skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Transfer to a 5-or 6-quart slow cooker; add squash. Combine the stock, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and cinnamon; pour over squash. Cover and cook on low until squash is tender, 6-8 hours.
Cool slightly. Discard cinnamon stick. Add heavy cream and in a blender, process soup in batches until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, top with crystallized ginger and fresh cracked pepper.
Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella
Makes 8 servings
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped, 8 whole
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium or 8 small eggplants (about 4 lb.), halved lengthwise
8 sprigs oregano
1¼ cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
3 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about ¾ cup)
Heat ¼ cup oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6–8 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until beginning to darken, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, mashing tomatoes occasionally, until slightly thickened, 15–20 minutes. Set tomato sauce aside.
Preheat oven to 400. Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin from rounded side of each eggplant half, leaving a 1” strip of skin around the cut edges. Divide eggplants, oregano sprigs, whole garlic cloves, and ½ cup oil between 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Turn eggplants to coat with oil; season with salt and pepper and place cut side down. Cover baking sheets tightly with foil and bake until eggplants are very soft, 40–45 minutes.
Toss breadcrumbs and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Transfer eggplants, oregano, and garlic to 2 large shallow baking dishes, placing eggplants cut side up. Top eggplants with tomato sauce and mozzarella, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Bake until mozzarella is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, 25–30 minutes.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.
Cooking or food questions? Email email@example.com.