What to Expect from Your Fall Farmers’ Market
by Julia Rodack
Fall is great for many things: oversized sweaters, drinking red wine, chillier nights, and, of course, heartier fare. Seeing the vibrant colors of autumn’s fruits and vegetables start to appear at different booths always signals to me the ending of one season, and the beginning of my favorite.
So what can you expect to find in these next few weeks, before winter shows up and you’re forced into hibernation? Emily Peterson, a chef and culinary instructor who teaches seasonal cooking at the Greenmarket in New York City, gave me some inside tips on what to keep your out for on your next market excursion.
“Every fall, I look forward to the staples that signal the cooling of the weather: Apples, Brussels sprouts, and late season zucchinis,” she said.
You can expect to see these delectable staples starting now and winding down around the end of Thanksgiving. If you’re new to Brussels sprouts (last year, I was) here is my favorite, painless sprout starter recipe.
What else should you throw into your shopping bag? “I encourage home cooks to experiment with the myriad selection of colorful, odd-shaped squashes!” Emily said. “They’re easy to bake with butter and maple syrup, or steam and puree into soup, mash with other root veggies, or keep it simple and serve just cubed and roasted.”
You will most likely come across gourds you don’t recognize. One of my favorites is spaghetti squash, or “the dieter’s pasta,” as it’s sometimes called. This is a healthy (and cheap!) substitute to traditional starch. You just roast it, shred it with a fork, top it with tomato sauce, and there you have it. (Just make sure you poke holes in the squash and that your oven is hot enough—trust me an exploding squash is not something you want to deal with when you’re hungry and waiting for dinner.)
Another great thing about gourds: You can use all of parts of it. “Don’t forget the seeds!” Emily explained. “All squash seeds can be cleaned up of the stringy flesh, tossed with some olive oil and salt and roasted for a crunchy snack.”
And her most important farmers’ market tip: Ask the farmer what they do with what they are selling. “You get to converse with the person who raised your food all season and get a tip or two you might never have thought of.”
Want to try a recipe from Emily? Here’s a sample:
Simple Steamed Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash, split lengthwise, seeds removed (reserve and roast like pumpkin seeds* for a snack if you with, otherwise discard) water
1. Heat oven to 350º
2. Place squash halves cut side down in a glass-baking dish with enough water to come up the sides of the squash by about an inch.
3. Into the oven they go for about 40 minutes, until a knife pokes through the skin and flesh easily.
4. When done, remove from the oven and carefully pour off the water. Use a clean tea towel to lift the very hot squash and turn cut side up on a cutting board.
5. Drag a fork firmly across the cavity where the seeds were and viola! The flesh of the squash shreds into spaghetti. Serve with fresh tomato sauce or just a simple pad of fresh butter and sprinkle of salt and pepper.
*Like pumpkin seeds, all squash seeds can be separated from the net of flesh they are suspended in (compost that) and tossed with some oil, salt, pepper and spices of your choosing. Smear into a single layer on a baking sheet and toast at 400º until golden. Let cool completely and store in an air-tight container until using for snacking or salad decorating.
This article previously appeared on Currency. (Please excuse the stock photo!)