Produced by Brett Levine
Food Styling by Lily Plauché
Photography by Becky Stayner
As summer turns to fall, we begin to revisit the cornucopia of warm comfort foods that awaits us. One of the great delights of the kitchen is considering how varied vegetables can be, and how easily they can form the foundation for any meal. No matter how they’re prepared, hearty vegetables will hearken you straight to blustery days. Here are three recipes to ease you into autumn.
Mushroom and leek pie is bursting with earthy goodness. The rich flavors and aromas of a variety of mushrooms add depth to this delightful dish. Fresh leeks, cooked in butter until just brown, add just an edge of bite. The hand-rolled crust is a crunchy delight.
Falafel is a perfect meal or simple snack. These delicious fried balls, made of ground chickpeas, are rich with the aromas and flavors of cilantro, garlic, and cumin. A yogurt sauce, with cucumber and lemon, adds both a tart bite and a cool, fresh flavor to every mouthful.
Or enjoy the baked eggplant. Here, artichoke, garlic, spinach, and onion combine with freshly baked eggplant to form a stuffing garnished with tomato and feta. Rich, tart, and nutty, baked eggplant is a true fall feast.
2 pounds leeks, root ends trimmed
9 tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and pepper
2 pounds assorted mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (14.5 oz) can vegetable broth
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ package puff pastry (1 sheet), thawed,
or 1 refrigerated pie crust
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove dark green tops from leeks; discard. Halve leeks lengthwise and slice into one-inch pieces. Wash leek pieces in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them to remove grit. Remove leeks from bowl and rinse in a colander; drain well.
2. Melt one tablespoon of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook leeks, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
3. Melt five tablespoons butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown and liquid is absorbed. Add garlic; cook one minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet and add to leeks; stir in parsley and thyme. Melt three tablespoons butter in the same skillet. Add flour and cook, stirring, one minute. Slowly add vegetable broth and stir two to three minutes or until thickened. Stir in lemon zest, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add to mushroom and leek mixture, stirring well.
4. Spoon mushroom mixture into a greased 9-inch pie plate. Roll pastry into a 10-inch round onto a lightly floured surface. Place over the mushroom mixture and fold edges under. Cut slits in top of pastry. Brush with beaten egg.
5. Bake 25–35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
3 large eggplants
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
½ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
¼ cup olives, chopped
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Heat oven to 400°F. Halve each eggplant lengthwise. Score flesh of eggplant in a diamond pattern and place, flesh side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with two tablespoons oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bake 15–20 minutes or until tender. Let cool 20 minutes.
2. Scoop out flesh of eggplant into a large bowl, leaving ½ inch border around the edge of each eggplant. Place eggplant shells back on baking sheet. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook five minutes or until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add artichoke hearts, peppers, olives, and spinach. Combine eggplant flesh and vegetable mixture. Add ricotta, basil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Divide mixture evenly among eggplant shells. Top with tomato slices and sprinkle with feta. Bake 15 minutes or until warmed through.
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup parsley leaves
½ cup cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
2–4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Harissa (a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, five minutes or until beginning to brown. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in salt, pepper, and cumin. Place mixture in a food processor. Add chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, and lemon juice; pulse eight to 10 times or until blended (but not pureed). Add baking powder and two tablespoons flour; pulse. Add flour, if necessary, so that mixture does not stick to your hands. Remove to a bowl and chill two to four hours or overnight
2. Shape mixture into 20 walnut-sized balls. Heat three tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook falafel one to two minutes on all sides until golden brown.
3. Combine yogurt, tahini, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve falafel with yogurt sauce, pita, cucumber, and harissa.