The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and the tables at your local farmers’ market are groaning with the bounty of the harvest season. It would be easy to get distracted by the piles of pumpkins and barrels of apples. But if you shop carefully, you can pick out these three delicious and unusual fall farm delicacies:
Purple Sweet Potatoes: The health benefits of sweet potatoes are well known. They are great sources of vitamins A, C, and B6. They are high in iron, which supports the immune system; magnesium, which is a stress-buster; and potassium, which helps combat muscle spasms. They are also low on the glycemic index, which means they won’t cause blood sugar spikes and the weight gain and fatigue that accompany them. Purple sweet potatoes pack all that as well as offering up a generous dose of antioxidants and nutrients that fight cancer, hypertension, kidney and eye disease and reduce inflammation. Plus, they have the same delicious sweetness of their orange cousins, even more so some gourmands claim, and they look beautiful on the plate. Purple sweet potatoes can be prepared in the same ways as standard orange sweet potatoes.
Kohlrabi: Bon Appétit has called kohlrabi “the weirdest looking veggie at the market,” and the ridged green or purple globes do look like they might have arrived at the farmers’ market on a transport from Mars. But these small representatives from the cabbage family can be enjoyed cooked or raw. When sliced thinly, they have the taste of a mild radish and work well in your autumn salads. They are delicious roasted with other fall vegetables, like potatoes or turnips. Or, they can be chunked or pureed in a soup to add some silky, slightly sweet texture. You can eat the leaves as well, sauteing them as you would turnip greens.
Kabocha Squash: These winter squash, also known as Japanese pumpkins or Kent pumpkins, come in green and orange and look to be textured versions of pumpkins you might use on your table for Halloween or Thanksgiving. In fact, a centerpiece display is a perfect place to use these beauties until you are ready to cook them up. As long as they stay dry and your house is not too hot, they will serve you well as decoration for several months. When you’re ready to cook them up, treat them like a butternut squash, and enjoy a flavor reminiscent of almonds and a touch of honey.
There are treasures to be found at the farmers’ markets this fall. Purple sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, and kabocha squash are three that will brighten your plate, please your palate, and maybe make it a little easier to say goodbye to summer.