Fall is in the air

Fall is in the air. You can see it with the leaves changing color and the harvest activity in the fields. The air turns cooler and crisper and there’s pumpkins everywhere! It is pumpkin season. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin dessert — there are lots of things we can cook and bake that include pumpkin as an ingredient. And there are some things, such as pumpkin-flavored coffee, that really have little or no pumpkin in them at all, but rather the spices and aroma that we associate with pumpkin and fall.

As we bring in the last of our bounty from the garden, we can enjoy the change of season by mixing up how we prepare and serve some of these heartier vegetables. Pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows are traditional favorites, but have you ever tried roasting vegetables? That method of preparation seems to really bring out the flavors of vegetables and is a good way to prepare vegetables without having add in so much extra sugar and fat.

A colleague and I were discussing this the other day and he mentioned that a favorite vegetable of his was baked cauliflower. His wife took a whole head of cauliflower and rubbed it with a little mayonnaise. Then she seasoned it lightly with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese and wrapped it in tin foil and baked it. She roasted the whole head, while when I have roasted cauliflower I have broken it apart into florets and have it in an open pan. Otherwise our “recipe” is about the same. Following is my method for roasting cauliflower:

Baked Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, washed and separated into florets

2 Tbsp minced garlic (or other seasoning)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup grated or sliced parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a large casserole or pan with non-stick cooking spray. Mix cauliflower florets, olive oil and garlic in a large Ziploc bag to coat florets. Put florets in the casserole dish. Bake, uncovered for about 25 minutes, or until desired doneness, stirring once. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Put back in oven for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is slightly melted. Serve.

Last summer I attended a Field to Fork event where a mixture of roasted vegetables were served. The medley included beets, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, small pieces of sweet corn and perhaps other vegetables. They had been prepared on an open grill and were served on a platter. That was a tasty and attractive side dish! When vegetables taste really good, it is easy to eat them. I can recall being encouraged to eat vegetables in my earlier years by having them served with cheese sauce. I suppose that is one way to do it, but having the natural flavors of these vegetables enhanced by roasting when they are prepared from fresh just cannot be beat — even if served with cheese sauce!

Now is the time to savor the flavors of autumn. We know what season comes next — brrr.

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.