By Terese Allen, Organic Valley Food Editor
If there is a silver lining to the economic woes of the early 21st century, it is that we’re in our backyards again—turning soil, pulling weeds and enjoying the benefits of homegrown vegetables. Thus, in the midst of scarcity there is abundance—and never more so than in early fall, when an organic gardener’s daily harvest is at its apex of flavor and nutrition.
Not to mention variety! This is the crossover season, when summer’s final push is maturing, while at the same time cool-weather crops are coming on strong. Tomatoes, chilies and the last fragrant melons ripen side-by-side with winter squash, root vegetables and the first frost-tipped greens. There’s something poignantly familiar about this wide-ranging bounty. It seems to call to us from older, perhaps better times. As Alice Waters has written, “This is the variety that our ancestors knew so well before home economists, agribusinessmen and creeping standardization of taste began to drive us out of our gardens and suppress the seasons.”
But now, with green thumbs back in business, we’re not just growing fresh, we’re cooking fresh. During summer we produced a love fest of simple salads and grilled foods. In fall we turn our attention to more in-depth dishes—soups, stews, breads. We even bake pies—not just dessert pies, but savory, main-course pies that are crammed with goodies from the garden (and farmers’ markets, too). It’s more than that nip in the air that whets our appetite for such hearty fare—it’s the sheer number and variety of the life-giving vegetables we’ve so carefully tended.
There’s a cornucopia of good food waiting at the kitchen door. Let’s get cooking! This month we feature top-notch organic veggies paired with ingredients that are equally good, and good for us: nutrient-happy dairy products, farm-fresh organic eggs, and sustainably produced meats. They all come together in delicious, down-to-earth quiches, pot pies, open-face vegetable pies and hand-held turnovers.
Enjoy the season.
Gloria’s Organic Veggie Pot Pie–When life gives you (excess) vegetables, make this hearty home-style pie from Organic Valley farmer Gloria Varney.
Cauliflower Cheddar Pie with Mashed Potato Crust–Vibrant-tasting organic dairy products and vegetables make this savory pie shine—and not just the filling, but the crust, too.
Autumn Greens and Spaghetti Pie–Experience the vigor of cool-weather greens blended with organic cheese and baked in a pasta crust.
Spinach, Fennel and Three-Cheese Calzones–The flavors of Italy in a hand-held pie--garlic and tomatoes, fresh spinach and fennel, and a trio of Organic Valley’s best Italian cheeses.
Modern Day Veggie Pasty (with Traditional Lard Crust)–Local, seasonal vegetables and award-winning organic cheese baked in a classically tender crust.
Turkey Pot Pie–Ohio-based Organic Valley farmer Charlene Stoller combines chunky turkey and vegetables in a creamy veloute sauce, and tops it off with buttermilk biscuits.
Holiday Vegetable Pie–Kathleen Bush of Toronto, Ontario took a prize in Organic Valley’s 2008 Holiday Recipe Contest with this recipe. It starts with a brown rice and toasted seed crust, is layered with colorful vegetables and gets a feta-custard topping.
Ruby Chard and Swiss Cheese Pie–Ruby chard, with its deep red stems and dark green leaves, adds gorgeous color to cheese-and-egg pie.
Feta, Leek and Sweet Red Pepper Quiche–Organic Valley’s pourable yogurt adds nutrition and tang to a fall-focused vegetable pie.