SPOTLIGHT: COOKING WITH CHRISTIE

By Christie Popp

Fellow Amiga shares her passion for cooking with these timeless fall recipes. 

When you eat seasonally, trips to the farmers market bring great excitement and celebration. There is nothing like the taste of those first pea shoots and spring lettuces, or red strawberries and juicy peaches. I overdose on each fruit and vegetable as it comes into season. Yet when I see those first apples and winter squash, I cringe and sigh. It's not that I dislike fall produce--I do!--it's just that it's a long time until April, and in the Midwest that means eating a lot of overwintered apples and squash. But I can't stop time, and these fruits and vegetables are delicious in their own rights. They also deserve to be celebrated. So here are two recipes that I hope help you usher in this new season.


Homemade Apple Cider Applesauce 

(Adapted pretty liberally from a Martha Stewart recipe) 

This is not a weeknight meal; it is better saved for a leisurely weekend. If you've never had homemade applesauce, you are in for a treat. And it makes your house smell amazing! 

 

I like to make this with my oldest son. We make a sort of assembly line. I peel, core, and quarter the apples, and he chops and puts them into the pot (he uses a $5 lettuce knife that is great for cutting softer fruits and vegetables without cutting little fingers). The cooking time is fairly short on this and it's easy. We have been making this every week for the last month. My kids love it. 

Peel, core, and chop: 

9 medium apples (around 3 pounds or so) use any kind you like. I prefer a mix of sweet and tart. 

Put into a pot and add: 

1 1/2 cups of fresh apple cider 

Bring to a boil. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. 

Once the apples are soft, taste an apple and juice for sweetness. Add: 

1 or 2 tbsp of honey or sugar to taste 

Two healthy pinches of salt 

1 tsp of cinnamon (optional) 

Cook on medium, uncovered for about 15 minutes more until the apples are very soft and the liquid has reduced quite a bit. 

Let the apples cool. If you like chunky sauce (like me) you can mash with a potato masher right in the pot. If you prefer a smooth texture (like my son) run the mix through a food processor or food mill. 

Store in the refrigerator. 

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad 

(Adapted from Orangette) 

This recipe is a relatively quick meal that is perfect for a lunch, a side dish, or, as we have it, a main course (though you may want to double it if you have hearty eaters like I do). It only takes 20-30 minutes after you cut up the squash, but, hey, why not make it easy on yourself and buy the precut stuff at the supermarket! 

Preheat oven to 425F 

In a large bowl combine: 

2 1/2 pounds peeled, seeded, and chopped squash (smaller will cook faster) 

1 medium garlic clove pressed or finely minced 

1/2 tsp allspice 

2 tbsp olive oil 

And a pinch of salt 

Toss to combine and pour onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the squash is soft. Remove from the oven. 

While the squash is cooling prepare the tahini sauce. Whisk in a small bowl: 

1 medium clove of garlic, finely minced with a pinch of salt 

3 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice 

3 tbsp of tahini (make sure it is well stirred) 

2 tbsp of water 

2 tbsp of olive oil 

Taste for seasoning. 

Combine the squash in a bowl with: 

1 can of chickpeas (15oz) drained and rinsed 

1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped 

And 1/4 cup of cilantro chopped 

Add tahini sauce to taste and toss. You can also save the sauce for people to serve individually on their own salads.