Well the weather’s changing, school is open-ish, bike shorts are giving way to leggings (again), and there’s early autumn produce at the grocery store. More apples and pears, less corn and fewer figs. Time stops for no pandemic. (Even though, mentally, time has indeed stopped in, like, May…)
Today I’m here to be the little voice in your head as you, masked, browse the aisles unsure of what to make with this or that. And I’ll be the little voice in your head when you get home and are in the market for distraction with this week’s links, below.
For this letter, I’ve brought a friend along. Steph, from "Step It Up with Steph" is giving us simple ways to use the season’s produce for energizing, healthy snacks. And who doesn’t want that? She’s a total pro, helping women step it up in their health and fitness routines, as well as privately coaching successful women in losing weight and getting healthier. If you want to learn more, check out her free 21-day challenge and her PBS show.
Cauliflower is in season and I can’t recommend enough this incredibly popular cauliflower fried rice or this roasted aloo gobhi, which has become one of my go-to weeknight dinners. Use cauliflower in this delicious pasta or in place of the mushrooms on these wonderful tartines. (For that, break the cauliflower down into florets and then cook the same way she suggests cooking the mushrooms.)
Steph’s Tip: dip raw cauliflower florets into plain Greek yogurt (sprinkled with sumac and a drizzle of olive oil) for a savory snack that doubles as a protein boost.
Green beans, too, are lookin’ good these days. I adore green beans, I’d swap them in for Brussels sprouts in this quick and easy recipe and for asparagus here, serving the whole thing as a light dinner or without the egg as a side dish. There are few dinners as classic and comforting as a perfectly roasted chicken with sautéed green beans on the side. And don’t forget to add them to your favorite curry recipe (this one from Gaz Oakley’s book, Plants Only Kitchen).
Steph’s Tip: Sauté green beans in extra virgin olive oil until tender but still crunchy and top them with slivered almonds. A great side dish with a dose of healthy fat.
Apples are the harbingers of fall, as far as I’m concerned. The first thing I want you to do is make a cheese and apple galette, using this as your template. Cheddar cheese with sliced apples wrapped in pie dough? Hard yes. Cubed apple makes butternut squash soup exponentially better. Apple compote or diced apples in baked oatmeal (with a healthy pinch of cinnamon), both fantastic breakfasts. Or, of course, impress someone (everyone) with a deep dish apple pie.
Steph’s Tip: Dip apple slices into almond butter! It’s the perfect weight loss snack and is totally delicious, that creamy nutty texture with the crunchy apples… Yum.
Eggplant is sometimes a tougher sell at the grocery store, but once you’ve cooked it down into a gorgeous caponata, you’ll stop turning a blind eye to them. Same goes for this miso-glazed eggplant recipe (from the 2019 updated edition of Joy of Cooking) which is easy and insanely flavorful. Add miso-glazed eggplant to soba noodles and some poached salmon and you’ll have a versatile dinner that your household will ask for again and again. Don’t say I never did nothin’ for ya.
Steph’s Tip: Slice an eggplant very thin (ideally with a mandolin) and bake them for a healthy alternative to chips.
Squash. Let’s talk about squash. Spice up your life with this Moroccan squash soup, from Tara “Teaspoon” Bench’s new book Live Life Deliciously. Of course, we know that squash lends itself well to soups and now’s not the time to reinvent the wheel. Or, swap in squash for the sweet potatoes in this fantastic breakfast hash. But one of the best things you can do with a lowly, misshapen squash is to turn it into a gorgeously golden, spiced cake.
Steph’s Tip: I love using spaghetti squash as a base for a turkey meat sauce for a healthy dinner! And here’s a recipe for just that.
Forward this email to everyone you know… They’ll hit this subscribe button and as a thank you, they’ll probably cook you dinner.
And now for some sweet, sweet distraction…
A really cool twist on pesto (Heated)
A Not To Do List (Instagram)
More on doing less (TASTE Cooking)
This headline gets us (The Onion)
Get a head start on holiday wrapping paper (Etsy)
A timely fall sweatshirt (Overseasoned)
Check your voter registration status (Vote.org)
I like my men like I like… [2020 Edition] (McSweeney’s)
My favorite face oil, literally called “Best Skin Ever”, is on sale (Living Libations)
And finally, a cooking party.
This one’s all about the calm and cool.
Playlist Let Erykah Badu into your kitchen…soothing, sexy
Pre-Dinner Drink Negroni sbagliato, which is a ‘broken’ or ‘messed up’ Negroni, which means it’s perfect for 2020. (It uses sparkling wine in place of the gin.)
Menu Nibble on crackers dunked in olive tapenade while you sip your negroni and make pizza (roti pizza or skillet pizza, for their great simplicity). Whip up, literally, a strawberry fool for dessert.
Wine Pinot noir, Beaujolais, or go crazy with a Lambrusco
As ever, we want to know what you think. Requests? Questions? Unbridled praise?