As the seasons change so does the availability of fruits and vegetables which grow best locally. In comparison to the peppers and tomatoes were used to using in summer, the seasonal fall produce can bring an exciting challenge to local kitchens as these foods often have a heartier taste. Local fall produce available around October in Northeast Ohio includes apples, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, winter squashes, and turnips.(1) While apples have a familiar cooking staple, many people were puzzled by the Kale Obsession of 2013. Since then, we’ve learned to make kale “chips” and used kale in salads, like other greens. What about parsnips, winter squashes, and turnips? Find some nutrition info and recipes on these veggies below:
Parsnips have a distinct, peppery taste. They are a root vegetable which does need to be gently scrubbed for cleaning before consumption/cooking. Parsnips provide vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.(2) They do have a slightly higher carbohydrate content than most of the summer vegetables; but, these include beneficial carbs like fiber. Parsnips have a sturdy texture and are a good carbohydrate as substitutes for veggie chips, noodles, fries, and pizza crusts. Additionally, parsnips provide antioxidants due to their white color.
Leek and Parsnip Soup
- 2 leeks, chopped (stalks only, separate from the leafy tops)
- 3 parsnips, sliced about ½ to 1-inch thick
- 2 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
- cups reduced sodium vegetable stock
- 2 cups skim or non-dairy milk
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons thyme, chopped fine
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Combine olive oil, nutmeg, paprika, and pepper in a bowl.
- Toss leeks, parsnips, shallots/onion, garlic, and thyme in oil mixture from Step 2 to coat.
- Place mixture onto baking sheet, spreading to bake evenly.
- Bake until tender, about 25 minutes, turning every 5-10 minutes.
- In a medium pot, bring vegetable stock and milk to a simmer.
- In a blender, add tender baked vegetables and 3 cups of hot stock/milk mixture.
- Blend to soup consistency, adding more liquid as needed if desiring a thinner soup.
Winter squashes are a healthy plant-based carbohydrate choice, as well, and can replace pasta or breads for a variety of recipes. Winter varieties can include acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squashes. In cooking, they can be hollowed out and used as bowls to bake and hold other foods together (think chili or ground meat mixtures). Winter squashes also provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but their antioxidants come from their red/orange and yellow pigments (called “carotenoids”).
Butternut Squash Mac
- 1½ cups uncooked macaroni noodles or noodles of your choice
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash (without skin and seeds)
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup reduced sodium vegetable broth
- ¾ cup skim or low-fat (1%) milk
- 1½ cups cheese of your choice (cheddar may give the most macaroni and cheese-like taste)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Cook macaroni according to instructions on package.
- Melt butter.
- Boil squash until tender, drain.
- In a blender or food processor, blend squash with butter, paprika, broth, and milk to a smooth cheese-sauce consistency.
- Add sauce to cooked noodles in a skillet over heat, stir in cheese until melted.
- Add salt and/or pepper to taste.
Turnips are similar to parsnips. They are also a root vegetable which can be used in multiple forms to create new recipes or substitutions in recipes. Turnips and parsnips are also comparable in nutrition content with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and white pigments. These white pigments are referred to as anthocyanins and are also in foods like cauliflower and potatoes. They are considered antioxidants even though their faint color may not seem like it compared to bright colors in other foods with antioxidants, like berries.
Parmesan Roasted Turnips
(No ingredient list for this one, make as many as you’d like!)
- Wash turnips with cold, running water and cut into cubes or wedge shapes.
- Toss in enough olive oil to coat so turnips do not stick to baking sheet.
- Spread evenly on baking sheet, lightly sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 450˚F for 20 minutes, or until tender inside with crisp outside.
One more positive of the vegetables highlighted above? They’re all very affordable, so you can save some money for the holidays and try a new recipe all at the same time.
- Ohio Farm Bureau Federation https://ofbf.org/whats-in-season/
- White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients: Purdue Roundtable Executive Summary https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650503/
Special thanks to Ivana Petrovic, our in-house dietician for this post!