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Top Chefs' Tips for the Late Summer Harvest

Eight renowned chefs offer advice on enjoying your backyard bounty

By Laine Bergeson

Every backyard gardener has experienced the moment when, seemingly overnight, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness turns to 741 pounds of ripe tomatoes and 300 buckets of apples.

How will you eat it all? Even the most ardent basil lover can suffer Caprese-salad fatigue when facing it for the 12th time in a week.

These eight culinary experts gave us their most delicious harvest recommendations. Here are their favorite ways to eat the fruits of your labor this fall:






Aube Giroux, creator of the blog Kitchen Vignettes, is a 2014 James Beard Award Nominee. Kitchen Vignettes, now hosted by PBS, received the Saveur Magazine 2012 Best Food Blog Award.

Here are some of my favorite ways to eat my fall harvests:

I like to turn both my red and green cabbage into sauerkraut, all you have to do is stuff cabbage and salt into jars and let them rest for a few weeks.

I like to roast cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil and eat them on pasta.

I use zucchini slices in lieu of noodles in my homemade lasagna.

I make huge pots of apple sauce and apple butter each fall from the apples I collect at an abandoned orchard near my family's home. I can them so we can enjoy them all year round.

I love to stuff squash halves with rice, veggies and cheese and bake for a hearty fall meal.





Rebecca Katz is a  nationally-recognized culinary translator and expert on the role of food in supporting optimal health. Katz is the author several cookbooks including The Longevity Kitchen and The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.

I’m a fan of roasting tomatoes, allowing them to cool and freezing them for later use in the winter months. You can also make an easy tomato sauce.

I also love roasting peaches, serving them warm and dolloping some yogurt or ice cream on top.

Zucchini is great in soups.  Also, with the magic of technology — your vegetable peeler — you can create zucchini ribbons which make for a great salad.

If you have a glut of basil, process it in a food processor with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt — sans nuts — and freeze in an ice cube tray. Once the cubes are frozen you can put them in zip top bags. Again, a little summer in the middle of winter.






Mollie Katzen has over six million books in print and has been recognized by The New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time. Her classic vegetarian tome, The Moosewood Cookbook, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in October. Her most recent book is The Heart of the Plate.

A tomato sauce made purely from very (or over-) ripe tomatoes (peeled or not), chopped, and left to sit for 15 minutes to express their abundant juices. The juices become part of the sauce.

Raw corn, zipped off a very fresh cob, sprinkled as a crunchy, sweet topping onto just about anything. (That zucchini lasagna included.)

Chopped apple salad with minced flat-leaf parsley and a drizzle of good olive oil. One of the simplest, and best, things ever.






Sara Fragoso specializes in ancestral eating and is the author of several books, including the best-selling Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook and Everyday Paleo Around the World: Thai Cuisine.

For a fun, fast and tasty fall dessert, simply saute apple slices in spoonful of coconut oil. Once the apples are soft, pour a few tablespoons of coconut milk into the hot skillet with the apples, along with a handful of raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Stir together until simmering, and serve.






Diane Sanfilippo, a holistic nutritionist specializing in Paleo nutrition, has penned several cookbooks and co-hosts the podcast Balanced Bites. Her books, Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox, are both New York Times best-sellers.

My absolute favorite way to eat zucchini right now (which is abundant locally in New Jersey) is to turn it into “zoodles,” or zucchini noodles. Using a spiral slicer of julienne peeler, zucchini becomes a truly healthy "pasta" base to any delicious sauce.







Terry Hope Romero, a self-described foodpunk, is the bestselling author of Veganomicon, Vegan Eats World and, most recently, Salad Samurai.

For all that zucchini that keeps popping up in early September, I love to make zucchini pancakes with a Middle Eastern flair: I season them with abundant parsley, mint, cumin, and bind them with chickpea flour in place of eggs.

I love winter squash, and one of my favorite ways is to make a simple creamy soup inspired by my Venezuelan heritage. I puree roasted pumpkin with a little boiled potato, coconut milk and good quality vegetable broth. Season to taste with good quality salt and plenty of fresh lime juice. If you like a little spice, add a few roasted jalapeños into the soup before blending.

I am so excited for Brussels sprouts. They are my favorite pizza topping, when prepared right. Thinly slice sprouts into shreds with a chef's knife. Pour the shreds into a bowl, drizzle a little olive oil and salt and use your hand to massage the sprouts for a minute or two until slightly tenderized. Sprinkle on top of pizza just before baking.






Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, have operated Chef & the Farmer, a farm to table restaurant in Kinston, N.C., that specializes in new southern cuisine since 2006. Her experience  running a high-end restaurant in the low country of eastern North Carolina is chronicled in the PBS show A Chef’s Life. The second season of A Chef’s Life premieres in October.

Peel and roast tomatoes, then store in olive oil in an air-tight container for a sun-dried tomato dressing.

Use apples, celery and pecans (in equal amounts) for a Waldorf salad.

Make apple and sweet potato soup with bacon by combining equal parts apple and sweet potato puree, sautéing onion in bacon fat and then adding broth to desired consistency.

For dessert, try Zucchini Pistachio Crumble.






Lidia Bastianich, an Emmy-award winning television host and bestselling author, has authored the popular cookbooks Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking and Lidia’s Italy in America.

Fall is the most exciting time of the year for me as a chef. All of the summer sunshine is collected in the fruits and products to be harvested, and either enjoyed now or saved for the cold winter months.

As a young girl living with my grandmother, I remember shelling the beans, storing the potatoes in a dark and ventilated place and fermenting the cabbage into sauerkraut. We would also dry the fresh herbs: We would hang bunches of the plants with the leaves attached on the laundry line in the sun to dry.

Today, with the convenience of freezers, fresh herbs are easy to save. The easiest method is making herb pesto, and I like making it out of each individual herb like basil, oregano, marjoram, sage or whatever you favor. All it requires is setting the leaves of the herb in a blender, adding some olive oil and working it into a semi-loose paste. Save it in a small zip-lock bag, airtight, and freeze for later use.

I also love freezing whole leaves. Use a small plastic container, fill it up with herb leaves like basil, then fill it up with water so all the leaves are under water. Seal with a top and then freeze. The herbs will be frozen into the block of ice and will remain green until you defrost them and cook with them. Rosemary and bay leaves freeze well this way also.

I love mushrooms! Make a tomato-mushroom ragu and freeze. This will last you all winter for pasta, lasagna or to top grilled meats. Of course, pickling mushrooms is something we did all the time with Grandma. We would also dry mushrooms, and today, with the dehydrators, it is easy and fun.

Squash...use it for filling pasta, ravioli, or for roasting as a fall vegetable drizzled with some balsamic vinegar. Instead of mashed potatoes, make mashed squash. Sometimes I mix potatoes and squash. Grill squash slices, then marinate in agrodolce: boil some water, vinegar and sugar to make a syrup, add some shreds of mint and pour over the grilled squash. Let it steep for a few hours before serving.

Tomatoes...when they are very ripe, make an uncooked tomato sauce to dress your pasta. Cut the tomatoes in chunks, add two to three whole garlic cloves (slightly crushed), season with salt and add enough olive oil to coat all the tomatoes...let it sit for 30 minutes...remove garlic cloves, add shredded basil and toss with hot, just-drained pasta. Taste for seasoning: add salt and oil if necessary, then sprinkle some grated Grana Padano and lunch is ready.

Roasting fruits in the oven is a delicious dessert. In a Pyrex roasting pan, set wedges of pears, grapes, some honey, lemon rinds and a cup or two of sweet wine like sherry or prosecco, and roast until fruit is tender. It is delicious as is or over ice cream.

Laine Bergesonhas researched and written about health for the past 15 years, covering everything from the nutritional benefits of rhubarb to the proper way to swing a kettlebell. Read More
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