Although in some ways similar to yesterday’s seasonal produce theme, I tried to take a somewhat different approach with the menu. I wanted to use nuts, pomegranate, and apples – all symbolic in various ways, although not especially to me, and delicious, fun challenges to base a meal around.
Here’s where I landed:
- mushroom-walnut pate (veganized and tweaked) on good bread
- white bean soup with roasted apples and sage
- frisee salad in citrus vinaigrette with pomegranate seeds and hazelnut parmesan
Bread first, right? Yummmm.
Here in California, the early fall weather is near 100 degrees, so I made both the soup and the pate a day ahead and served them chilled.
Soup was very simple, and maybe not for all palates, but a worthy starting point. First I halved and cored two whole gravenstein apples, cut a small red onion into big chunks, and grabbed a few sprigs of thyme and sage, then brushed them with olive oil before giving them a 20-minute bake in the toaster oven. The cooked ingredients went into the blender with two cans of cannellini, water, and salt and pepper. Finally, the resulting puree got a gentle simmer (maybe half an hour?) before it went into the fridge. To serve, I garnished with some fried whole sage leaves and a sprinkling of the hazelnut parmesan I made for the salad.
The salad was a bit more colorful. My dressing consisted of juice of one orange, olive oil, a little bit of mustard, a dash of sweetener (I used coconut nectar), a splash of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness, and a little salt and pepper. At the market I picked up a huge head of frisee, which is bitter and pretty and ought to stand up well to a strong, sweet dressing like that, so I pulled out the more tender greens in the middle, washed them, and gave them a quick spin to dry before tossing. Hazelnut parmesan was quick and easy–handful or two of nuts with a generous shake of nooch and let it ride (in the spice grinder, food processor, or blender, you pick your poison)–and ultimately tossed with the salad and extra sprinkled on to serve, along with those beautiful pomegranate jewels.
Fall cooking is possibly the most fun. So many great vegetables are still available, and between MoFo and Thanksgiving prep, I’ve got menus on my mind. This was a quiet weeknight dinner on a hot “what seasons?” kind of night, but maybe for a minute those nuts and seeds meant a little something, even to me.