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Eating with the seasons is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. By eating vegetables that naturally come to harvest at this time of year you reduce your carbon footprint by cutting out the extra resources that go into growing indoors out of season or transporting food halfway across the world.
Some people find the current vegetables a little uninspiring, but there's a lot that can be done with them. So here are some ideas to make the most of those earthy fall flavours.
A lot of root crops come up at this time of year - carrot, parsnip, turnip, and of course potatoes.
They all taste great roasted - just chop them into manageable chunks, then toss with olive oil and maybe a fresh herb such us thyme, or a little cumin with your parsnips. Roast for 30-40 minutes on a moderate to high heat, turning halfway through, so they end up crisply browned, crunchy on the outside and soft in the centre. If you want them extra crispy, part boil them first and shake them around in the pan before adding oil.
Mash is another great alternative, not just for potatoes but for any root vegetables. Try adding ginger to mashed carrots, ground coriander to parsnips, some parsley or dill in with your turnips. You can add some potatoe to other mashes to help with the consistency, or use potatoes as a base from which to make a whole mashed meal. Throw in chopped spring onions, sweetcorn and a handful of parsley, or top with vegan sausages and onion gravy.
As a third option, try slicing these vegetables thinly and braising them in the over in a casserole dish with stock and herbs. If the stock only just covers the vegetables then you'll end up with a crispy top, and you can layer up different vegetables for variety.
Broccoli + Kale
These iron-packed bad boys are great stir fried with a bit of soy sauce, some sesame seeds and a finely sliced chilli. Chuck in a glug of sherry as you fry them to really round out the flavour.
Broccoli makes a quick, tasty and nutritious meal with spaghetti, chopped walnuts, crushed garlic, lemon juice and a bit of olive oil. You can have the broccoli lightly steamed or raw, so only the pasta really needs any cooking.
Curly leafed kale can be turned into the mock seaweed found in Chinese takeaways. Finely shred the kale, toss it with plenty of oil and a bit of salt and sugar, and roast in the oven. Its best to spread the kale out in a thin layer and keep a close eye on it, as this one can easily end with half the kale burned and the rest still floppy, but it's worth the effort of getting it right.
Pumpkins + Squash
There's more to our hard-shelled friends than Halloween lanterns and soup. They can be roasted just like root vegetables. Alternatively, slice your gourd in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it whole, with a stuffing of nuts, herbs and breadcrumbs in the hollow. A perfect warming centrepiece for a cold evening's dinner platter.
Photo by Dinner Series via Flickr creative commons