The leaves right now in Nova Scotia are out of this world. They are at their peak. As I drive around I’m overcome by the brilliant and vibrant colours the tress are revealing to us as they transition seasons. It is truly a spectacle of fall foliage.
Perhaps it has been made even more splendid by the incredible weather we’ve been having. The leaves against the bright blue sky backgrounds and glorious rays of sunshine make the colours pop to their most brilliant hues.
If you haven’t been getting out and enjoying this feast for the eyes, I highly recommend you do before the trees shed their incredible coats of colour.
The other aspect of fall I adore so much is the abundance of the fall harvest. Farmers’ markets are jam packed right now with the most colourful and nutritious array of fruits and vegetables.
Here are five harvest favourites to fall for this year:
My friend Norbert Kungl, owner of Selwood Green at the Seaport Market, grows the most incredible cauliflowers. He has purple, orange and of course the standard white ones as well. Plus he also has the Romanesco variety which is one of the most beautiful plants ever. It is conical, spirally and pointy shaped. Sometimes referred to as broccoli, the Romanesco is much more like cauliflower and can be prepared the same. Cauliflower is such a versatile low carb veggie and can be used in place of starchier foods like potatoes, pasta and rice.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been buying different types of squash each week at the market. There are so many different sizes, shapes and colours to choose from. Another farmer friend Ted Hutten, Hutten Family Farms at the Brewery Market, grows a wide range of squash and knows so much about the heritage of each one and offers some great cooking tips too. Squash are affordable, nutritious and have a mild, pleasant taste. Some are more creamy in texture while others are a bit stringy. We’ve tried Long Island Cheese, butternut and acorn so far.
3. Dark leafy greens
We’ve been blessed to have many greens since the summer, but right now the dark leafies are superb. Swiss Chard, kale, spinach along with the Asian greens like boc choi, tatsoi and mizuna are fun varieties to try out. Dark leafy greens are a staple in my house at least once a day. They truly are nutrient-dense power houses. Ted Hutten is a master at growing these and has more varieties than you could ever imagine.
The lowly cabbage doesn’t often rank among the most exciting veggies. It’s usually thrown into a stew, soup or boiled dinner and cooked until it’s mush. But this time of year you can find some different varieties you may not have tried. Apart from the green cabbage there is also the beautiful deep purple cabbage, savoy and my favourite the Napa cabbage. I personally enjoy cabbage raw in a salad or slaw, cooked lightly and paired with apples for some sweetness, or added to a stir fry for some colour and crunch.
We can’t have a list of favourite fall produce without including the apple. I would like to unofficially recognize the apple as Nova Scotia’s provincial fruit. You can’t scroll through Facebook these days without seeing multiple photos of the annual family apple picking day in the valley. Again, we have a choice among many different varieties, ones that are better for cooking, for pies and sauces, and then ones that are better fresh for eating. Paired with some almond butter is my favourite way to enjoy a good crisp, slightly tart McIntosh.
Over to you. What’s your favourite locally produced fall fruit or vegetable? How do you like to prepare it? Have you shopped at your local farmer’s market lately and taken advantage of the abundance Mother Nature provides us at this time of year? Please share your thoughts in the comments…
This post first appeared here in the Halifax Citizen on October 25, 2016.