Bountiful Harvest

Celebrate the flavors of the season with these 5 recipes that will satisfy both sweet and savory palates.

By John F. Carafoli  •  Photography by Kristin Teig

I live on a little over an acre of land. When I moved to this 1840 farmhouse seven years ago, I decided to take advantage of the land. It’s a fairly private area, reminiscent of what Cape Cod was like many years ago. To the left of the house, what started as a few fruit trees has grown into a small orchard with a variety of delights—pear, peach, Santa Rosa plum, sour cherry and apple. I also have currant bushes. Out back, near the chicken coop, I have blueberry and raspberry bushes, a small vegetable garden and a grape arbor. My harvest starts around the end of June when I pick the sour cherries, and continues until the fall when I pick raspberries and grapes. I use all of what I grow to full advantage. I make jam with the fruits and preserve tomatoes in a variety of different ways, such as the roasted ones in the recipe on page 89. I even dehydrate some of them. Fall on Cape Cod is an exciting season that brings an end to crowded beaches and busy highways. It’s a time for gathering one’s thoughts as well as the last of the native fruits and vegetables from our own gardens and farmers markets. Local farm stands are heaped with golden orange pumpkins, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, apples and cranberries. The summer and fall are the only times of year one can buy a tomato or vegetable without a sticker on it.

Take time to think creatively about how best to use this beautiful produce. Many can be easily preserved or frozen and used in the cold, dark days of winter to bring back the flavors of summer. Fresh herbs can be dried. Dry that overgrown mint in your garden—it will be great for tea on a wintery afternoon. You can also dry oregano, tarragon and thyme. They make a nice display hanging in the kitchen and will be convenient for use in your favorite recipes.


PUREE OF PUMPKIN SOUP

If you would like to present this soup uniquely, hollow out a whole pumpkin, warm it in the oven for a few minutes, then pour the soup into the cavity and serve it at the table. Save the seeds and roast them with a little flavored salt for a nutritious cocktail snack.

3 cups pumpkin (or squash such as buttercup, butternut or both), peeled and diced

2 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 quart of homemade chicken or vegetable stock

Pinch of nutmeg or allspice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sour cream and snipped chives for garnish

In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion in the butter and oil until translucent; add the pumpkin or squash and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and nutmeg and bring to a boil. 

Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, covered, until pumpkin or squash is cooked. Remove from heat.

In a food processor or blender, puree the mixture in small batches and return mixture to pot. Add salt and pepper. Heat and serve in preheated bowls or hollowed-out pumpkin.

Top each serving with sour cream and chives or even chopped parsley, if desired.

Serves 2 to 4


OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES

The heirloom tomatoes at the end of the season come in a variety of shapes and colors. There is no set amount for this recipe. The important thing is to use a baking dish or pan big enough so that the tomatoes are not crowded. If I am using red tomatoes, I like throwing in yellow cherry tomatoes for color. The choice is up to you.

Olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Medium-sized tomatoes or larger, depending on the size of your pan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the bottom of a shallow baking dish or pan with oil.

Cut the tomatoes in 1-inch slices, and use a sharp knife to remove the stems.

Place the slices in the prepared dish or pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for ¾ to 1 hour until the tomatoes are completely softened and wrinkled.

The tomatoes will keep for about five days in the refrigerator. They also can be frozen for future use. I like putting them in sterilized jars to preserve them for use in the winter.


GARDEN GAZPACHO

Most people think of gazpacho as a summertime dish, but I like this recipe when the tomatoes are at their most delicious, juicy best. This is a perfect fall dish to prepare. All of the essential ingredients are available at farmstands and farmers markets.

1 pound fresh, ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 yellow peppers, seeded and finely chopped 

3 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup minced cilantro

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

Juice of 1 lime

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup V-8 juice

2 to 3 tablespoons pale dry sherry

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, blend the tomatoes, half of the peppers, celery, cucumber, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper and lime juice, and process until smooth.

Pour mixture in a large bowl, add chicken broth and remaining ingredients, mix well, season to taste. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Serves 6 to 8


BROILED GREEN TOMATOES WITH GOAT CHEESE AND SAGE

There are plenty of green tomatoes at the end of the season. I sometimes make a green tomato chutney, but I also like to use this recipe and serve it as a vegetable with a roasted chicken.

8 ounces goat cheese

1 ½ tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

3 to 4 tablespoons cream

3 to 4 medium green tomatoes

Olive oil for coating

In a medium bowl, combine goat cheese, sage, pepper and cream. Mix with a fork, cover and set aside for 1 hour or more
(do not refrigerate).

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut tomatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch slices; place on an oiled cookie sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Spread 1 tablespoon of goat cheese mixture on each tomato slice and place under a hot broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Serve one or two slices per person.


APPLE CRANBERRY CRISP

I asked my friends Dona and Norma, of Crow Farm in East Sandwich, which sells a variety of apples, what apple they would use for this crisp. They both suggested using Cortland because they hold and maintain their whiteness and shape. Baldwin and Northern Spy are also great for baking, but come out a little later.

4 cups tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup chopped cranberries

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup apple cider

A good splash of Calvados apple brandy, optional

butter, optional (I like sticking chunks of butter into the mixture before putting the crumbled topping on.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Generously butter a 6x10x2-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, toss the apples, cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, cider and Calvados, if using, and mix well.

For the topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

4 tablespoons salted butter

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Lightly work the ingredients, except the pecans, with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then mix in the pecans and set aside.

Place the apple mixture in the baking dish and distribute the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is light brown.

Serve warm with cinnamon ice cream or your favorite flavor.

Serves 4 to 6

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