(BPT) - Beautiful fall vegetables are in season now and make for wonderful dishes that will have your family members saying 'yum.'
In addition to the traditional fall flavors of produce like squash and cauliflower, California grapes are also in season, having one of the longest, 'just-picked' seasons among North American fruits, from May to January. Always the perfect snack, grapes possess a flavor balance of sweetness and acidity, making them a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory preparations.
When it comes to fall produce, cauliflower is often passed over in the produce aisles in favor of its much-touted cousin broccoli. But roasting cauliflower brings out a hint of surprising sweetness in this robust veggie. Add to that roasted grapes, with their juicy burst of tangy flavor, along with a good sprinkling of ground cumin, and you'll be reaching for cauliflower more often just to prepare this simple and delightful dish.
Butternut squash takes on a whole new dimension when baked with grapes and rosemary and seasoned with a gratin topping. The crunch of the topping adds another texture component to the 'pop' of juice coming from the grapes and the browned edges of the comforting squash. Rosemary offers a hint of aromatics that fits perfectly into the mix.
Roasting grapes is a big trend in finer restaurants, but very easy to do. Roasted grapes can also be turned into a simple sauce, by adding a ladleful of wine, water or broth and reducing the mixture over heat to thicken to a syrupy consistency. Drizzle over pork tenderloins or sauteed chicken breasts, and you'll wonder why you've never done it before.
Both featured recipes have an added bonus: They combine fruit and vegetables, which are foods that health experts say we need to eat more of, more often.
Roasted Cauliflower and Grapes
1 large head cauliflower (3 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups red, green or black seedless California grapes
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Toss cauliflower, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, salt, cumin and pepper together in a large bowl and spread in one layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes and stir the cauliflower. Toss the grapes and remaining olive oil together and add to the baking sheet. Roast 5 to 10 minutes longer and serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 116; Protein 3.3 g; Carbohydrate 17 g; Fat 5.2 g; 37 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 287 mg; Fiber 3.6 g.
Butternut Squash, Rosemary and Grape Bake
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium butternut squash (about 4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks or 3 1/2 pounds pre-cut butternut squash chunks (11 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 large red onion, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups red or black seedless California grapes, stemmed and rinsed
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the squash and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, then transfer to the baking dish. Repeat browning of remaining squash with another tablespoon of olive oil and more salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish.
Heat another tablespoon of the oil in the skillet and add the onion and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the broth and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Bring to a simmer and pour into baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 F. Remove the dish from the oven and take off the foil. Sprinkle the grapes over the top. In a medium bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the squash. Bake until top is browned and bubbling, or about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 259; Protein 6.6 g; Carbohydrate 36 g; Fat 12 g; 38 percent Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 10 mg; Sodium 266 mg; Fiber 4.7 g.