There’s such an extraordinary array of produce available in the fall that’s not only easy to cook with but delicious and nutritious.  More often than not though, we tend to stick to the produce we know and love.   I say take a walk down the produce isle or visit your local farmer’s market to explore some of my favourites and ideas on how to make the best of them for your family table.    

Japanese eggplant

Japanese Eggplant

This is now my favorite eggplant because, it is sweet, virtually seedless and doesn’t require salting- to extract some of the bitter juices- like larger eggplant does. Pick firm, blemish free, bright purple eggplant.  They are fantastic for stir-frying, roasting, grilling even sautéing and then stewing in your favourite sauce.  I use them for a quick ratatouille all the time.

Fennel

A super versatile bulb with a very light creamy color and a sweet, slight flavor of anise, this Italian staple is delicious raw as a crisp salad, roasted with olive oil or even grilled.  It also adds a gentle licorice note to a simple chicken or fish soup.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like black licorice – which I’m not a fan of- but instead it really pairs beautifully with any citrus fruit or white wine for a delicate tasting but aromatic broth.  Chose smooth, light colored bulbs that are blemish free and feel heavy when you pick them up. 

Beets

I can’t say it enough: I love beets!  You can roast them, boil them or even grate them raw in a slaw.  I always suggest buying beets with their beautiful green leaves intact.  For one, bright healthy leaves, tell you how fresh the beet (roots) are and secondly you get two vegetables in one because I always use the leaves.   You can either sauté them quickly or serve them raw as a salad.   Try the striped or golden beets for something new if you’ve never tasted them.  Beets need a little acidity to perfectly balance their sweet flavor.  I go for apple cider or sherry vinegar.

Bok Choy

Bok Choy

There are several varieties of this Chinese mild white cabbage that is highly nutritious and so easy to cook. Even my Greek mom has learned to cook with it and eat it raw. Be sure to cut the stalk in half and wash them thoroughly as dirt can get trapped in the lower where the leaves attach.  It requires very little cooking, so stir frying or quick steaming is best. I always store in the fridge in a plastic bag to retain the moisture in its leaves.

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