Celebrate harvest time at the family dinner table

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

It’s harvest time. The produce sections of local markets are stocked with seasonal fruits and vegetables. My small backyard garden is bright with vegetables, while friends’ larger patches are absolutely bursting.
For anyone who enjoys cooking, September represents a playground of opportunities. Harvest time, whether you grow your own produce or shop at farmers’ markets, is something to celebrate. I need only take a drive through local vineyards to feel what an exciting time of year it is. The neatly manicured vines are heavy with fruit, representing the culmination of the farmer’s collaboration with nature.
In years past, my family would gather for jubilant harvest parties. We would roast a whole hog and talk and dance late into the night. This year, I’m excited about honoring harvest time with my immediate family. I’ll designate a Sunday dinner for celebration, set a special table and serve a menu that takes advantage of the great variety of seasonal produce. As a nod to the big harvest parties of my past, I’ll include a pork roast on the menu.
I’m sharing my recipes below, which easily serve six people. For the adults, we’ll pour a 2015 Lioco Indica Rosé and Bear Republic Brewing Co.’s Racer 5 IPA. To finish, we’ll keep dessert simple by dishing up vanilla ice cream and fresh berries.

• 1 small minced shallot
• 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 4 ounces crumbled feta
• 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
• 2 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
• 3 ounces Marcona almonds, chopped
• Handful of fresh Italian parsley, removed from stem and left whole
In medium bowl, mix shallots, olive oil, vinegar, dill, salt and pepper. Add crumbled feta and halved grapes and stir gently with rubber spatula. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
On platter or in salad bowl, add arugula and then grape and feta mixture. Top with parsley leaves and chopped almonds. Serve immediately.
• 3-4 pound picnic pork shoulder
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 fennel bulbs, stalks removed and white portion sliced
• 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
• 1/2 (750 ml) bottle Sauvignon Blanc
Season pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven or similar large, lidded pot. Brown pork on all sides, 5-6 minutes per side. Remove pork from pan and set aside.
Drain fat from pan, add second tablespoon of oil and heat. Add sliced fennel and onion and soften slightly. Add garlic cloves and set pork on top of vegetables.
Pour wine over top (the wine should come approximately halfway up the roast). Bring to simmer, then reduce heat and cover, cooking for 2 hours.
Heat oven to 425 F, remove lid and set uncovered pot in oven, allowing meat to brown – this will take 20-30 minutes.
• 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and flesh cubed (can also purchase prepared)
• 2 unripe Bartlett pears
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
• 3 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Toss together squash, pears, olive oil, sage and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture onto baking sheet and cover pan with another piece of foil. Roast for 30 minutes.
Raise heat to 375 F, remove foil from top of sheet and roast an additional 30 minutes, uncovered.


Popular Posts