Vegetables rule our fall

Cynthia Stone
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The potatoes and carrots and beets are finally starting to taste exactly as they should. We’ll have to wait a bit for an early frost to whip the turnips into shape but we’ve got lots to work with now.

Beet top soup

I get excited when I see a bunch of beets with firm, fresh tops still attached, and this is exactly the dish I want to make. The dark green of the leaves and the beautiful red of the stalks and veins colour this soup in exotic shades that intensify in the leftovers.

If you prefer to use spinach then add the pasta first and cook the greens for a scant five minutes. Add chopped chicken if you prefer a more substantial soup but this recipe stands on its own as a great fall first course.

This will serve six people.

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small pinch red pepper flakes

8 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 large bunch beet tops (or spinach if you prefer)

1 cup small pasta shells

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups crispy croutons

Fry onion in oil in a large, heavy pot until onion is soft. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute, just until fragrant. Add broth and bring to a boil.

Wash the greens thoroughly and cut the stalks into 1/4-inch lengths. Chop the leaves coarsely. Add to boiling broth. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Add pasta and continue to cook until pasta is tender. Add lemon juice and black pepper. Taste and add a little salt if needed, but don’t overdo it because the cheese adds a last-minute salty hit. Float lots of croutons in each bowl and pass the Parmesan at the table.

Herbed new potatoes with lemon butter

Those little red potatoes are useless for a mashup but they’re the only ones to choose for this recipe. If you use unsalted butter consider adding a little more salt, but please don’t substitute margarine — it just doesn’t do these little gems justice. This makes four decent servings but double it up because the leftovers are fabulous.

16 (more or less) small new red potatoes, well scrubbed but unpeeled

2 tbsp. each butter and olive oil

1 lemon, grated zest and juice

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cover potatoes in cold water in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until tender — a small knife will enter and leave the flesh with little resistance. Drain and allow potatoes to steam dry for a few minutes. If you have a very large frying pan with a cover you can boil the potatoes and use the same pan for the next step.

Melt butter in oil in a large frying pan and add potatoes, lemon zest, rosemary and thyme. Fry over medium heat until everything is sizzling and the potatoes are heated through. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper and sprinkle the lemon juice over the top just before serving.

Fall vegetable curry

Roast a chicken and serve this wonderful mixture on the side, or pour it over brown rice and make it a meal without the meat. Count on serving six.

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

2 carrots, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 cup butter

2 tbsp. hot or mild curry powder

1 tsp. garam masala (Indian seasoning available in most grocery stores)

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. each ground coriander and cardamom

1 jalapeño chili, seeded and minced

5 or 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced or grated

2 tbsp. flour

3 cups chicken broth

8 small red potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and halved

2 large handfuls young turnip greens, coarsely chopped, (Discard any really big stems.)

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Fry onions, celery and carrots in butter in a large, heavy pot until vegetables are starting to soften and take on a little colour around the edges. Add curry powder, garam masala, cumin, coriander and cardamom and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are thoroughly coated. Add jalapeño, garlic and gingerroot and cook until fragrant, a minute or two.

Stir in flour and continue to cook until flour is no longer dry and white in the pan. Whisk in chicken broth and cook, stirring, until liquid is smooth and starting to thicken.

Add potatoes and greens and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and cauliflower and cook just until cauliflower is tender but not overly soft. Stir in pepper and sprinkle almonds on top to serve.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram,

P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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