Five chefs sing the praises of their favorite fall produce, from sweet squash to bitter broccolini.
It’s that time of the year. The air is turning crisp and cool, the calendar is already filling up with holiday vacations, and there’s suddenly a bounty of Honeycrisps at the market.
Yes indeed, fall is here, and chefs are feeling all the feels—from joy at discovering all the squash available to sadness at the impending winter.
“When I start seeing hard squashes I know winter is coming—and it will soon be the land of root vegetables and snow for many months,” Rachel Dow, the chef at The Betty in Chicago, says.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, Dow is stocking up on squash galore. Here’s how she and other chefs across the country are making the most of a fleeting fall harvest:
Crushin’ on Delicata Squash
“I’m stoked because harvest time is the best season for produce. There's also the nostalgia of school starting and, let's not forget, hoodies + jackets + boots. All of that means it's this Chicagoan’s favorite time of year. That being said, I really love delicata squash. It has a smooth, edible, thin yellow and green skin with yielding flesh that isn’t fibrous nor overly sweet. This fall, I’ll put delicata squash with our plancha-seared octopus & saffron gnocchi dish.” —Rachel Dow (The Betty, Chicago)
Get Figgy With It
"I'm excited for fig leaves, which I'm using in a fig leaf panna cotta, and chestnuts for chestnut sticky rice. Beets will be going into my smoked beet pastrami on rye with pink kraut and Russian dressing, and satsumas will be used for creamsicles." —Andrea Reusing (The Durham, Durham, NC)
Green with Envy
"With the huge bounty that comes from our very mild fall, I'm in love with the greens, from kale to chards, mustard greens to lettuce. The best treats for me are freshly clipped greens with extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice, covered in shaved Parmesan, of course. It's garden to mouth in less than 5 minutes."— John Russ (Lüke San Antonio, San Antonio, TX)
“One thing that helps me through summer’s end is Concord grapes. This year, I’ll cook them down to a jelly and serve it over candied ginger ice cream with spiced gingerbread.” —Abby Swain (Fowler & Wells, New York City)
‘Til the Bitter End
“Broccolini is at its peak in September and October, and since it’s a bitter ingredient I enjoy accentuating that natural flavor by adding more of it. Here, that means high heat grilling. It gets a serious char, which adds to the depth and complexity without covering up the bright flavor of this vegetable.” —Nicholas Cox (Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar, Boston)