Cozy Meal Ideas to Welcome September’s Chillier Skies
Here we go -- Labor Day is behind us! Now is the time when we're packing away shorts and swimsuits, and hearty comfort food grows much more appealing. Chefs love September. It's that month signaling a seasonal change fast-approaching, yet it brings a diversity of ingredients that straddle both summer and fall.
In the spirit of natural ingredients and farm-to-table fare, September is one of the most versatile months for cooking. At least, that was one of the key takeaways after catching up with Chef Missy Robbins, a culinary powerhouse and founder of two coveted Italian restaurants in Brooklyn, Lilia and Misi. Chef Missy recently expanded her empire with MP Grocery, a subscription delivery service of seasonally selected produce, meats and must-have pantry items intended to take the guess work out of shopping.
"September is one of the best months to cook," notes Chef Missy. "Summer ingredients are still available, because fall ingredients really make their debut closer to October. That means you still savor summer tomatoes -- and they're often at their best -- through the majority of summer."
Around this time, Chef Missy says she is using tomatoes in everything from pasta to fish and even on their own. "Our favorite preparation at MP is our slow-roasted tomatoes marinated in olive oil," she says.
The roasted tomatoes are perfectly showcased when tossed in a homey pasta dish with spaghetti and garlic breadcrumbs.
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They're also the perfect accompaniment to the whipped ricotta and sourdough appetizer that is a staple at MP.
What to Cook as the Weather Dips
Once October rolls around, think gourds and greens.
"For early fall , as it gets chillier I love to cook with fall squash, such as delicata which is mild, not to sweet, and a bit earthy," Chef Missy said. "I also welcome fall greens, and chicories which can be turned into salads but also roasted, grilled, or braised."
Porchetta sandwiches with brocolli rabe and salsa verde are just one delicious example of these special seasonal ingredients in action!
To warm up as the season changes, Chef Missy prepares a Butternut Squash Ribollita. This satisfying stew presents a seasonal twist on the Tuscan classic. Check out the recipe from MP Tips below.
- Peal and cut squash into small cubes, about 1-2 inches large.
- Place the squash cubes on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil and salt.
- Roast at 400°F until you see a bit of color and the pieces are still quite firm (it will cook more in the soup).
- Chop a sofrito of onions, garlic, celery, and fennel. Set aside.
- Tear bread into large pieces and leave to sit out a bit to dry.
- In a large dutch oven, add olive oil and cook the sofrito on medium heat until slightly softened.
- Add beans (white cannellini or butter) that have been soaked overnight.
- Add water and a touch of San Marzano tomato, a parmigiano rind, rosemary, thyme, sage and chili flake.
- Cook on low heat. Add the squash once the beans are tender.
- Add the torn bread. Let cook until it starts to break down.
- Add a hearty amount of kale. Let sit for a solid hour to allow all the ingredients absorb together.
In following the recipe above, the stew should have a thick consistency once all ingredients are absorbed. It should be served in large bowls, garnished with parmigiano, fresh rosemary and a splash of your best olive oil.
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