Initially, I began preparing for this month’s column by creating a collection of broccoli-based recipes. But I soon found myself gravitating toward and experimenting with additional in-season, local “cole crops.”
Because I was no longer singularly focused, I was ultimately able to create a more diverse and nuanced collection of dishes, using a variety of the season’s bounty in true celebration of autumn’s embrace.
Cole crops are also known as cruciferous vegetables and include broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and arugula. Easily identified by their cross-like flowers, they possess a wide array of exceptionally nutritional properties proven to aid in cancer prevention, as well as repairing and strengthening our immune systems.
Incorporating these fiber-rich, antioxidant-packed vegetables into your diet can be one of the most effective ways to improve your eating habits and, ultimately, your well-being.
Fortunately for us, we have access to locally grown cole crops, and autumn is peak growing and harvesting season. Farmers markets are no longer laden with tomatoes and ears of corn but are stocked with root vegetables, cole crops and leafy greens.
These hardy crops prefer cool growing temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees; most are frost-tolerant and will withstand temperatures in the mid-20s.
There is no time like the present to enjoy these healthy and soul-satisfying locally harvested crops as much as possible now, while we still can!
ROASTED BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
This recipe is all about roasting the broccoli and cauliflower. In doing so, you will be rewarded with a slightly smoky, almost nutty savory element. The satisfying creaminess comes from the addition of a Yukon gold potato, rather than the usual suspects of milk and flour. This recipe can very easily be prepared with all broccoli or all cauliflower if you like; simply double the quantity of one. To make it vegan, substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock and unsweetened almond or oat milk for the heavy cream.
1 large head broccoli, stalk and florets cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 extra-large Vidalia onion, diced (2 cups)
4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large Yukon gold potato, skin on, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Set aside 1/2 cup each broccoli and cauliflower florets to garnish the soup.
Spread the remaining broccoli florets/stalks and cauliflower florets in a single layer on a baking sheet (you may need two). Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss with your hands. Place baking sheet in oven, and roast for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute longer.
Add the potato slices, thyme, bay leaf, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Stir to coat evenly, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock, increase temperature to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil. Add the roasted broccoli and cauliflower, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes longer.
Remove from heat, and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth, thick and creamy. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more stock.
Stir in the heavy cream, if using. Ladle into soup bowls (3-4 ladles per person), sprinkle with the raw broccoli and cauliflower florets, and drizzle with olive oil and ground black pepper. Serve at once.
AUTUMN HARVEST COBB SALAD WITH TANGERINE MAPLE VINAIGRETTE
This roasted vegetable salad has many of the elements of a traditional Cobb, but the ingredient list has been reimagined with the locally grown autumn harvest in mind. The result is a stunning and scrumptious entree bursting with the flavors of fall and an explosion of texture and flavor in every bite. This salad definitely takes time but is well worth the effort. The roasted vegetables may be served hot, right out of the oven, or they may be prepared in advance and served at room temperature or cold.
2 large beets
1 delicata squash
31/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 bunch broccoli (2 heads), cut into florets
1 head cauliflower, stalk and leaves removed, cut into florets
1/3 cup dried cranberries
8 ounces arugula, rinsed and patted dry
4 strips bacon
1 large avocado
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
For the tangerine maple vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tangerine, zest and juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the beets, pat dry and remove the greens. Place each in a foil packet.
Slice the squash into thin rings, keeping the skin intact. Remove the seeds, rinsing with cold water while pulling the fibrous membranes away. Pat the seeds dry, and set aside.
Place the squash rings in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Spread the broccoli and cauliflower florets on another large baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Place the foil-wrapped beets directly on the lower oven rack, and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour. After 30 minutes of cooking, place the squash, broccoli and cauliflower baking sheets side by side on the top oven rack. Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through.
Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking the first 8 ingredients together in a small pitcher or bowl. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oil to emulsify; refrigerate.
Place the dried cranberries in a small ramekin with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette to rehydrate. Rinse and pat dry the arugula, season with salt and pepper to taste, and place on a large serving platter. Chill in the refrigerator while the vegetables are roasting.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8-10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and crumble.
Peel, pit and dice the avocado. Place in a small bowl, and squeeze on the lemon juice to prevent browning.
Combine the squash seeds with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and a large pinch of salt, and toast in a toaster oven for 2-3 minutes until light golden brown.
Once the vegetables have been removed from the oven, allow the beets to cool for 5-10 minutes in their foil packets before transferring to a cutting board, gently removing outer skin and cutting into wedges.
To assemble, lightly dress the arugula with half the vinaigrette, tossing to coat evenly. Using a spatula, arrange the squash, beets, broccoli and cauliflower side by side in bunches on top of the arugula. Add the avocado, then drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle the cranberries, squash seeds, bacon and blue cheese all over the salad.
ANGEL HAIR WITH CRUCIFEROUS SKILLET VEGGIES AND KALE PESTO
I adore every type of cruciferous vegetable, individually or when prepared together, as they are in this recipe. The simple, rustic dish features a gorgeous combination of textures, colors and flavors of the season. You could also serve the skillet veggies as an accompaniment to roast chicken or pork, no pasta or pesto required. Or prepare a vegan- and gluten-free version by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock and red or green lentil pasta for traditional semolina pasta and leaving the grated cheese out of the pesto.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved, outer leaves removed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon honey
8 ounces dried linguine or angel hair pasta
For the pesto:
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 cup fresh Tuscan kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Sear the sprouts, cut side down, for 5-7 minutes.
Shake pan; flip the sprouts; and add the broccoli, cauliflower and remaining oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the stock, and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until just tender. Add the cabbage, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Turn off heat, and stir in the honey.
Meanwhile, place the garlic, toasted pine nuts, kale and basil in a mini food processor. Pulse until a chunky paste forms. Slowly add the oil and pepper flakes (if using), and blend for 30 seconds longer. Add the cheese, and pulse for 30 seconds.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for 2 minutes less than al dente package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 ladle of starchy pasta water.
Set a burner to medium-low heat, and add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the skillet vegetables. Stir gently, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat, and pour the pesto over the veggie-pasta mixture, blending to coat evenly.
Serve with ground black pepper, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and more grated cheese on the side.
CRUSTLESS BROCCOLI, CHEDDAR AND CHIVE QUICHE
Broccoli quiche is a classic comfort food that disappears quickly in this house. This simple version has no crust, making it an easy low-carb, keto-friendly, gluten-free and low-calorie option. Without the crust, the limited ingredients really shine individually, so it is important they be the freshest and best-quality — newly harvested broccoli, local eggs, and just-cut chives or scallions. Cheddar cheese (preferably local) that you grate yourself really makes a difference. I do find that our local eggs tend to be significantly smaller than the ones available at supermarkets, so if you do not use local eggs, cut the quantity back to six.
4 heaping cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 cup freshly grated aged extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions, thinly sliced
8 local eggs, whisked
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie plate or 1-quart baking dish with coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray.
Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot, bring water to a boil and toss the broccoli into the steamer. Cover, and steam for 2 minutes.
Transfer florets to the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle the cheddar over the broccoli, and top with the chives or scallions.
Whisk the eggs, milk, half-and-half, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot, room-temperature or chilled.
Allison Lehane lives in Newbury, where she is a home cook who is passionate about locally sourced ingredients. Her recipes have been inspired by her world travels through her former career as an international home fashion buyer for TJX Corp. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.