Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

SIMONE SEZ: Seasonal Produce: A Triple Threat

Alright Readers, it’s time for another post on seasonal ingredients.

We’ve covered tomatoes at the peak of summer and apples at the turn of fall. Now I don’t want to scare you off, but I have to be honest. This is a post about potatoes, beets and squash… perhaps not traditional fan favorites. But maybe I can change your mind!

Beets from the Dupont Circle Farmers Market, photo taken by Tony Fratto @TonyFratto

The truth is, if you don’t LOVE these seasonal ingredients, then you probably haven’t had them prepared properly. Restaurants, chefs and washingtonians alike are harnessing their versatility, rich flavors and nutritional value. Perhaps you should, too.

Beets. We’re going to start with beets. Okay now stop making that face… I’ve found that this glorious little root vegetable often times has negative associations from childhood, but hear me out for a sec.

First of all, there’s no denying their beauty — rich in color, deep purples and reds. The handsome-looking beets in the photo above are from the Dupont Circle Farmers Market (compliments of Tony Fratto). Yet as rich as they are in color, they’re equally rich in nutrients— great source of folate, potassium and fiber. Unlike the potato, they’re often enjoyed raw, although I’m partial to roasted myself. The sweet crunch makes a great pair with tart ingredients like apples and oranges as you’ll see below. I’ve stretched a little outside the box here with my recommendations, even including a cocktail in the mix. (Not exactly how mom fixed ’em, huh?) See, I told you beets could be fun.

  • Recipe: Beet Burgers, grated beets, carrots, onion, brown rice, sunflower seeds, soy sauce, garlic/cayenne/parsley (Washington’s Green Grocer)
  • Recipe: Blood Orange & Beet Cocktail, Aperol, beet juice, blood orange juice, lemon juice, sparkling grüner veltliner (Daily Candy)
  • Menu Item: Roasted Beet Salad with organic greens, orange supremes & green apple vinaigrette (Cafe Dupont)
  • Menu Item: Seared Icelandic Arctic Char with red beet-potato puree, kale, beet-fennel salad & argumato (DC Coast)

Recipe for Beet Burgers from Washington’s Green Grocer!

Potatoes. Next up is potatoes. Or at least that’s how I pronounce it — never actually met anyone who said po-tah-to, have you? These little spuds are quite familiar to all of us, and yet their versatility allows us countless ways to enjoy them. Believe it or not, there are over 3,000 types of potatoes in this world: russet, fingerling, red, yellow and white just to name a few. Potatoes are loaded with fiber, and their starches help regulate blood sugar. It’s the famed ‘sweet potato’ that tends to take center stage during the holiday season, so why not try Bon Appetit’s latest feature recipe—roasted with Bourbon, maple and… coffee? Oh yea. Also, be careful not to overlook DC’s family of food trucks. Many have been running some potato specials lately, including El Floridano’s loaded baked potato soup. Great on a chilly day.

Photo by Matthew Mead, the Associated Press

Squash. If there ever was a trendy seasonal ingredient, this would be it. Perhaps you have noticed lately that everything seems to be pumpkin-flavored or pumpkin-spiced: lattes, muffins, dips, martinis. And according to Twitter, butternut squash is currently roasting in everyone’s oven. I love it! In addition, however, there’s a whole family of squashes to be indulged: delicata, acorn, spaghetti. All slightly sweet and nutty in taste. And again, rich in fiber, as well as potassium, niacin, iron and beta-carotene. The recipes are getting slightly more challenging, but I’m sure you can keep up:

If I haven’t changed your mind, I hope I’ve at least changed your lunch plans. I’d love to hear some of your favorite recipes, so shout at us!

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