Hot Weather in Fall

Well, it turns out that I was wrong about the weather changing to cool here for Sukkot (or for fall, for that matter).  After one day of drizzly and cool we went back to 82-92 degree weather each day this week.  So what do you do when the produce is cool weather vegetables and fruit but the weather is still summer-hot?  You just adjust your recipes slightly and make fewer stews and more salads.  With that goal in mind, here are some fall produce dishes to eat cold or room temperature.  

Before we start with the recipes, though, here are some quick instructions about cooking spaghetti squash.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Put a couple of inches of water in the bottom of a large pot then put the squash in the pot cut-side down.  Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat and cook at a simmer until squash is tender but not squishy-soft, somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes depending on size of squash.  Remove from the heat and cool cut-side down on a plate or colander to drain. 

Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Parmesan

  • 1 whole large spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook and cool spaghetti squash according to instructions above.  Cool and drain.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.  Cook it until it starts to brown – watch it carefully, though, it will go from melted to burned pretty quickly.  Remove from heat then stir in brown sugar until it melts.  Mix in vinegar, salt, and pepper then set dressing aside.  Using a fork pull the strands of the squash out of the shells, separating them and putting them in a bowl.  Carefully toss the vinaigrette and all but 1 Tbs of the parmesan and all but 1 Tbs of the parsley with the squash, coating it evenly.  Put the squash back in the shells of the squash or in a serving bowl.  Sprinkle the remaining parmesan and parsley on top of the salad.  Serve at room temperature.  If you are making this in advance, store in the fridge then take out an hour before serving so the butter vinaigrette can warm up.

Butternut Squash with Sunflower and Arugula Pesto

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1/4 dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (you can use raw or roasted, depending on your taste but if you use salted ones be careful about the other salt you use)
  • 2 packed cups arugula
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • salt, as needed
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • juice and zest of half a lemon

Peel the squash with a sharp knife then cut in half and remove the seeds.  Cut squash flesh into 1 inch cubes then place in a pot of cold water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender to a fork.  This will take about 10 minutes but check after 7 or so to make sure it isn’t mushy – do not let this get mushy or it will not look as nice.  When the squash is tender remove from heat, drain, and cool in very cold or ice water then drain well.  To make pesto put the arugula, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, sunflower seeds, and pepper into the blender or food processor.  Process until it is all blended – you may have to stop and scrape sides with spatula a few times.  Peel and chop the onion into small dice.  In a large mixing bowl carefully toss the pesto, the squash bites, the onion, and the cranberries.  Taste and adjust for salt.  Remember to toss carefully so the squash doesn’t smash. 

Potato and Pepper Salad

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small green or yellow pepper or half a large one
  • 1 small red or orange pepper or half a large one 
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (either red wine, white wine, or regular white)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

Peel and cut the potatoes into small dice.  Put in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook potatoes until they are tender but not mushy.  Remove from heat, cool in cold water, and drain.  Cut the peppers and red onion into small dice.  Toss the cooled potatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper.  The potatoes will break up a bit and the salad will look “creamy”.  This is right. 

Spaghetti Squash Caprese

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 cups grape or small cherry tomatoes
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, either small balls or chopped pieces (you can substitute extra firm tofu for the cheese)

Cook and cool squash.  Cut the tomatoes in half, set aside.  Chiffonade the basil (cut into very thin shreds.)  Carefully toss the squash with the olive oil, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, salt, and pepper holding out a few tomato and mozzarella pieces, 1 Tbs of oil, and a pinch of the basil for garnish.  Either put the squash back in the shells or onto a serving plate.  Sprinkle the garnish vegetables on top of the squash and drizzle with the oil.  At this point you can either serve as is or bake in 350 degree oven until cheese is melted and the squash is hot – about 20 minutes.

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