As summer draws to a close, I am always a little sad to say goodbye to seasonal favorites like peaches and corn on the cob. But with autumn’s cooler temperatures, there are many delicious options to enjoy anew. Crunchy, tart apples, creamy winter squashes, and an array of greens that truly improve as the temperatures fall.
It is true that many vegetables taste sweeter after the first frost. For example, members of the cabbage family thrive in cooler temperatures and are known for being frost-tolerant. This family includes cabbage as well as brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, radishes, kale, and Swiss chard. Cold temperatures cause these vegetables to convert their existing starches to sugar. Some root vegetables, like parsnips, carrots, and celeriac have the same reaction. (If you have never tried celeriac, peel the tough skin, chop, toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roast at 425 degrees F. Also known as celery root, this rather ugly looking veggie tastes quite good!)
So, classically bitter greens such as turnip greens and kale will taste less bitter in the fall and early spring. The same holds true for spinach and arugula. I enjoy slightly nutty-tasting arugula as a baby lettuce. Once it gets large, the stems can be a little tough and the flavor becomes stronger.
Pairing cheese with notoriously bitter greens is another way to mellow the flavor and enjoy these nutritional powerhouses. Although personal preference can be your best guide, I love Sargento’s Four State Cheddar with spinach (and bacon!) as well as collards greens (and sausage!). Their Six Cheese Italian blend and crumbled blue cheese are a personal favorite for greens ranging from kale to tatsoi. (If you aren’t familiar with tatsoi, think baby spinach leaves with crisp, celery like stalks. Delicious raw or cooked, just like spinach.)
In the following recipe, shredded Parmesan pairs particularly well with baby arugula. This savory side dish was inspired by a simple recipe for Parmesan Crusted Potatoes. My younger son, never liked potatoes until this recipe. (Curiously, he did like French fries!) Now, he actually requests this recipe…often! There is always a little leftover olive oil in the baking dish, along with some residual Parmesan, which becomes a bit crusty through baking. Simply tossing some of your favorite greens in this flavorful mixture makes a satisfying salad…one that even my kids enjoy!
- 1 – 1 1/4 pounds new or fingerling potatoes, cut in half (lengthwise if they are not fully round)
- 3 – 4 cups lightly packed arugula
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup Sargento shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt and a few turns of the pepper mill
- Chives, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Coat the bottom of a 9×9-baking dish with the olive oil, and then evenly distribute the grated Parmesan over the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Place the potato halves, cut side down, on top of the cheese mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Precise baking time will depend on the thickness of your potatoes.
Cool for five minutes, and then remove to a plate with a metal spatula. You may have to gently cut between the potatoes with a knife as the cheese becomes crusty and may connect the potatoes to one another.
Place the arugula in the baking dish and toss with the olive oil and Parmesan that remains in the pan. Transfer the arugula to a serving platter or individual plates, and top with the roasted potatoes. Top with additional Parmesan and snipped chives, if desired.
Here is a link to the original recipe for Parmesan Crusted Potatoes. Both versions are definite favorites in our house!