Sizzle Simmer Sauté — So long summer, I’ve fallen for autumn

–by Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple

It seems like just yesterday I was eagerly waiting for opening day of the Sylvania Farmers Market. I looked forward to visiting with old friends, talking with farmers and vendors, and planning recipes for this column. I was also excited to receive my first produce share from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program I had just joined. Fast forward four months… we’ve got just a couple more market days to go, and I’ve got just a few more veggie deliveries. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun and good food!

On a lighter note, I am happy to report that being part of a CSA program was a terrific culinary experience. I purchased a share of a local farmer’s crop, and in return, I received a box of freshly-picked produce every other week. My goals for participating were simple: eat more veggies, broaden my produce go-to list and share ideas with readers.

In June, I played around with beets for the first time and made what turned out to be a beautiful raspberry colored Roasted Beet Hummus. A second batch inspired a platter of Roasted Balsamic Beets. Tender green veggies made their debut early in the summer. From them came sautéed Peas and Pancetta and Tortellini with Asparagus and Peas. In July, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash made their entrance and became delicious summer sides including Grilled Summer Squash Pasta, Creamy Cucumber and Radish Salad, and my favorite, Zucchini Au Gratin.

I also learned a thing or two. Garlic scapes, the curly stalks that grow from the garlic bulb, can be used for flavoring just like their cloves. And then there are ground cherries which I tried for the first time while visiting farmer Cody at nearby Ottawa Lake Heritage Farm.

If you get the chance, stop by the farmers market and let our local farmers and vendors know how much you’ll miss them over the winter. They’ve got everything to help you transition to the new season – corn, squash and apples, candles, wine, brightly colored chrysanthemums, and of course, pumpkins. Happy fall!

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Chorizo and Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Chorizo and Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
Chilly fall evenings call for dinners with a little heat. Flavorful chorizo, pork sausage with spicy seasonings, leads the cast of ingredients in this dish. Savory onions, garlic and fresh thyme play well against the mildly sweet and soft acorn squash.
Serves 4

2 large acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups long grain and wild rice cooked in low-sodium chicken broth
½ pound chorizo
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

Heat oven to 350 F. In a glass baking dish, place squash cut side down and bake for 30 minutes. Turn squash over, season with salt and pepper, cover with foil and bake 25-30 minutes or until tender.

While squash is baking, prepare filling. In a large sauté pan, cook chorizo, onion and celery until sausage is cooked through and veggies are soft. Add garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute more.

When squash is ready, combine sausage mixture with cooked rice and stuff into squash halves. Bake 10 minutes more until both squash and filling are hot.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

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Confetti Corn

Confetti Corn
This colorful side dish is sure to brighten any harvest table. Made with fresh corn and sweet bell peppers, it’s a great way to add more veggies to your diet.
Serves 6

6 ears of corn, cut off the cobb
2 large red bell peppers, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add veggies and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until corn is cooked but still firm and peppers and onions are tender about 15 minutes.
(Recipe by Stephanie Alexander)

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Spiced Ground Cherry Compote

Spiced Ground Cherry Compote
If you’ve never tasted a ground cherry, you may not know what to expect. A member of the tomato family and similar looking to the tomatillo, ground cherries taste a bit like pineapple.

Their flavor is enhanced in this compote with the addition of lemon, nutmeg and vanilla bean.
Serves 6

4 cups fresh ground cherries, husked and washed
Zest from half a lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean

In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.
(Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, Oct. 2018)

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
I love eggplant parmesan, but I don’t like to use all the oil that’s needed for frying the breaded slices. For a lighter version, I bake the slices which result in a crisper round. This recipe can be easily doubled for a 9 x 13 pan.
Serves 4

1 large eggplant peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
12 ounces marinara sauce
1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, thinly sliced
Cooked pasta (optional)

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set on paper towels.
Allow to sit for 30 minutes to extract any excess water.

Coat 2 baking sheets with olive oil spray. Set aside.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together egg and water. In another shallow bowl, add breadcrumbs. Dip each slice of eggplant in egg and then in breadcrumbs, coating the whole slice. Set on baking sheets.

Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Flip eggplant slices and bake another 20 minutes.

In an 8 x 8 baking dish, layer marinara sauce, eggplant slices and mozzarella cheese. Repeat two more times. Sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before slicing.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

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