The cooler evenings have started my taste buds leaning towards autumn flavors. Summer squashes, berries and tomatoes will soon be giving way to gourds, harder winter squashes and root vegetables. The use of seasonal fruits & vegetables has declined greatly in the last 50 years as our ability to ship produce from warmer climates has made it convenient to have summer vegetables any time we like. There are many benefits to using food when it’s in season: its quality is great and it is the least expensive because it is also at its most abundant.
Now that we are more concerned with the carbon footprint and energy needed to process and transport food, locally grown seasonal produce holds an even greater appeal. Benefits range from supporting small local farmers and the surrounding communities to reducing fuel consumption and pollution by minimizing cargo transport.
With a little creative thinking and awareness to what is fresh, you can liven up your fall and winter meals. Baked squashes, sweet potatoes, mashed rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, dried fruits, dried spices, apple cider and salsify are all interesting options that will be more readily available in the months to come.
Here’s one or my personal seasonal fall favorites:
Pan Roasted Pork Loin with cardamom apples
Mashed Rutabaga with Honey and Port Wine Cider Sauce
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
2 oz port wine
1 Tbsp minced shallot
4 oz apple cider
8 oz chicken stock
2 tsp cold butter
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
3 firm granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
½ tsp cardamom
Pinch kosher salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1.5# peeled and cubed rutabaga
2 tsp kosher salt
2 –3 T honey
3 T cold butter
Boil the cubed and peeled rutabaga in enough salted water to cover, cooking over medium heat until fork tender. Drain the water and mash as you would for potatoes. Season with salt, honey and butter. Reserve and keep warm until ready to serve.
Next, prepare the pork to sear and roast. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Season the pork loin and sear in the olive oil about 2-3 minutes per side so all sides are seared and brown. Transfer the pork to an oven safe dish. In the same pan you seared the pork, sauté the apples, salt and cardamom over high heat until lightly cooked. Top the pork with the apples and roast for 8-12 minutes (I recommend an internal meat temperature of 155 degrees). Allow the pork to rest at room temperature for five minutes before slicing.
Using the same sauté pan, sweat the minced shallots and add the port wine, apple cider and chicken stock. Allow to cook until the mixture is reduced to about half. Combine the cornstarch and water and whisk into the reduced mixture. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook on low heat for another 3 minutes. Stir in the butter, and season to taste. Serve over the mashed rutabagas..