Cooking with fresh autumn produce adds an extra dash of pleasure to your everyday nourishment. These recipes deliver nutrients, to be sure, but their preparation, colors, textures and flavors add up to even more healthful benefits.
Creamy Pear, Cider and Parsnip Soup
Makes about 5½ cups
Sweet from parsnips, pears and apple cider, this autumnal soup is creamy and nourishing. Try garnishing with thin slices of pear and perhaps a dollop of yogurt.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups diced, peeled parsnip
- 1 cup thinly sliced, well-rinsed leek
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
- 2¼ cups diced, peeled and cored pears, such as Anjou
- 1 quart unsalted vegetable or chicken stock
- ½ cup apple cider
- 1 cup plain, unsweetened cashew milk
- Spray a medium-large saucepot with cooking spray, and heat over medium. When warm, add the parsnips and leeks and ½ teaspoon of the salt, and sauté until the parsnips are halfway-tender, about ten minutes. Add the pear and another ½ teaspoon of the salt, and sauté for another three minutes.
- Add the stock and cider, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until all of the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced slightly, about 30 minutes.
- Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion blender. (Alternatively, transfer to a blender and carefully blend in two batches.) Strain into a large bowl. Add the cashew milk, and puree again.
Freekeh with Roasted Grapes, Butternut Squash and Pecans
Makes 6 cups
Delicious warm, at room temperature or cold, this perfect stuffing substitute is also an ideal lunch salad. Freekeh is an “ancient grain” — green durum wheat that’s roasted and rubbed for an earthy, nutty flavor.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3 cups of peeled butternut squash, diced into ⅓-inch cubes
- 1 cup seedless purple grapes
- 1¾ teaspoons coarse salt, divided
- 1 cup cracked freekeh
- ½ cup thinly sliced, well-rinsed leek
- ½ cup raw, unsalted pecans, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- 6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh, strained lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray. On one side of the baking sheet, place squash. Spray with cooking spray, and season evenly with ½ teaspoon of the salt. On the other side of the baking sheet, place grapes. Spray with cooking spray, and season evenly with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Roast until the squash and grapes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to a small deep saucepot, add freekeh, 2½ cups water and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover the pot and simmer over low heat until the freekeh is tender and the water has evaporated, 25-30 minutes (should yield about three cups). Drain the freekeh.
- While the freekeh cooks, spray a small sauté pan with cooking spray, and heat over medium. When warm, add the leek and ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and sauté, stirring frequently, until tender, about eight minutes. (If the leek browns too quickly, turn the heat down to medium-low.)
- In a large bowl, use tongs to gently toss together the roasted squash and grapes, freekeh, leeks, nuts, sage, juice and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
Cranberry and Rosemary Sorbet
Makes about 3 cups (6 servings)
A touch of fresh rosemary adds complexity to the flavors of this fat-free, easy-to-prepare, soft-serve-like sorbet (no ice cream maker needed!). Serve solo or over a baked apple.
- 10 ounce package frozen unsweetened cranberries (about 2½ cups)
- 1¼ cups agave nectar
- ⅓ cup fresh, strained orange juice
- ½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- To a small, deep saucepot, add all of the ingredients plus 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the cranberries are fully tender, 10-15 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender. Cover and puree until very smooth, 1-2 minutes (should yield about three cups).
- Let cool to room temperature. Then, transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze until firm, at least six hours. Scoop into serving bowls and serve immediately.