The vegetables of autumn offer a sweeter profile and the warm colors of falling leaves. At this time of year, build your seasonal menu using gorgeous red and yellow beets and yellow squash. Look for butternut and acorn squash (and their cousin, pumpkin) with bright orange and golden-yellow flesh, which can be stuffed or cubed and roasted in the oven. Consider dark leafy greens such as collards and beet greens for a hearty winter salad. (Like this recipe for Winter Greens and Warm Pork Belly Salad.) Get creative with hearty potato preparations, too. You can access every variety, from russet to Yukon gold to exotic purple sweet potatoes, from Sysco Imperial Fresh produce, Fresh Point and now—by overnight delivery— from Frieda’s Specialty Produce.
With cold weather, diners crave comfort. They are beginning to think about the holidays, with flavors such as cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and maple at the forefront. For a simple, warming side dish that goes well with meat or fish, roast celery root that has been cubed and seasoned with salt, white pepper and a little nutmeg. Or toss cubed butternut squash with Sysco Classic Pure Maple Syrup and a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, salt and pepper and roast until nicely browned.
For a more elevated preparation, Chef Nate Luce cooks butternut squash in the Hasselback style, which involves a series of super-thin cuts into the vegetable, resulting in a beautiful presentation (pictured). Topped with brown butter, cinnamon, dried cranberries and sage, this is a perfect side for a holiday menu. For Chef Colin Greensmith’s Hasselback Potatoes, which use the same knife technique, the preparation is otherwise deliciously simple: just olive oil, salt and fresh thyme, with a sprinkling of chopped bacon for garnish.
When you incorporate special ingredients such as red currants, juniper berries and roasted chestnuts, your vegetable dish becomes a lot more exciting.
Chef Neil Doherty
Although fall vegetables such as squash and beets have a natural sweetness, ingredients like honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and even sorghum act as catalysts, brightening and intensifying the flavor. Grain salad stuffed in acorn squash, such as the recipe pictured, incorporates the seasonal flavors of dried cranberries, pecans and maple syrup. From Chef Andrew Langdon, the dish makes a wonderful light lunch or dinner. Likewise, Chef Luce has roasted red and yellow beets with the best ingredients of the season: bacon, butter, walnuts and a zesty mixture of lemon juice and Mike’s Hot Honey. Chef Graham Mullett instead adds ethnic ingredients like pepitas and Cotija cheese to spice up his Pumpkin Tostadas With Kale Slaw.
“When you incorporate special ingredients such as red currants, juniper berries and roasted chestnuts, your vegetable dish becomes a lot more exciting,” says Sysco Senior Director of Culinary Development Neil Doherty. “And when your dish is more exciting,” Doherty says, “it’s more likely to sell. Which is, after all, the ultimate goal.”