Fall is here, bringing cooler weather, warm colors and seasonal fare to Charlotte farmer’s markets. Think beyond “pumpkin spice” everything with these comforting and fresh fall recipes featuring produce from Charlotte-area farmers.
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
As we get older and our metabolisms slow down, many adults try to reduce their intake of simple carbohydrates, like potatoes and pasta. Spaghetti squash is a healthy alternative to pasta and an easy way to sneak extra veggies in your diet. Stuff spaghetti squash with a hearty Bolognese or keep things light with fresh tomato, basil and cheese.
To enjoy a stuffed spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds, then season the interior with salt, pepper and olive oil. Prepare the sauce of your choice or use jarred sauce for an easy weeknight meal. Place the spaghetti squash face-down on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Let the spaghetti squash cool, then use a fork to tease apart the strands of spaghetti squash. Top with your preferred sauce and cheese (optional).
One medium spaghetti squash serves 2 to 4 adults.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Salad
Perfect as a dinner-side salad or a hearty lunch, a roasted butternut squash and apple salad combines two fall favorites in one.
To create this dish, peel and chop a small butternut squash (or pick up pre-peeled, cubed squash from the grocery store). Toss the cubed squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and any spices of your choice. Fresh herbs like rosemary add a robust flavor, while paprika gives a subtle kick.
Roast the squash at 400 degrees until crispy and tender, which takes 30 to 40 minutes. While the squash is in the oven, dice a farmer’s market apple and prepare other ingredients. This is where you can use your imagination and follow the farmer’s market adage of “what grows together goes together.”
Baby greens like kale, bitter arugula, lettuce or radicchio can form the base of your salad. Thinly shaved root vegetables, whether radish or carrot, add a nice crunch. Toasted pecans lend Southern flair, or you can roast the seeds from the butternut squash and add them to your salad. Serve with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Spiced Maple Carrots
Grab a bunch of carrots from the farmer’s market. Rainbow carrots are very attractive in this dish, but any type of carrots will work well. Slice the carrots in half lengthwise, so they cook faster. Measure out 2 cups of carrots, 1/4 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger, 1/2 tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt.
Place the carrots, water, cinnamon and ginger in a large skillet and cover on medium heat for six minutes until the carrots start to soften. Uncover the skillet, pour in the maple syrup and butter, and cook until the syrup reduces into a glaze, which takes about three minutes.
Season with salt and serve as a side dish. This works great as a healthier alternative to sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving or served alongside roast and mashed potatoes.
Cheesy Grits with Kale
Green juices are all the rage, but you don’t need to have a kale smoothie to start your morning with kale. Adding cooked kale to your cheesy grits is a simple way to kickstart your healthy eating. To create the kale, slice kale off the stalk and chop it finely. Blanch the kale in a pot of boiling water for three minutes, then drain. Set aside while you make the cheese grits. Use one bunch of kale for four servings.
To create the cheese grits, bring two cups of milk and two cups of water to a boil. Add one cup of coarse cornmeal and whisk. Turn the burner down to low, cover (so the grits don’t spatter) and cook until the cornmeal swells up and becomes creamy. This takes 20 minutes, on average. When the grits are tender, stir in a tablespoon or butter and four ounces of grated cheese. Lastly, add the kale, divide and serve.
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Here’s another great lunch idea: Combine salad greens, fresh goat cheese and your favorite salad dressing. To make the roasted beets, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the beets, then slice them 1/2 inch thick. Mix with olive oil and roast until tender, around 15 minutes. Add to the salad, dress and serve.
Where to Retire in Charlotte, NC
At The Cypress of Charlotte, we believe that adults of all ages should have access to fresh, flavorful fare including farmer’s market fruits and veggies. If you’re looking for a continuum of care where independent living is valued, and wellness is a priority, we would love to meet you. Contact us to more about The Cypress or schedule a tour.