Healthy Fall Cooking

by Anouk Booneman

And just like that, summer is over. It’s been a busy and fun one for us. We had a lot of overseas guests, still catching up on their post Covid travels.  We all enjoyed the exceptional produce from the Denison Farm and the Featherbed Lane Farm. It might have rained a lot, but we had plenty of gorgeous produce.  I made a lot of ratatouilles this summer which helped reduce the summer veggies overflow. Combined with a lot of zucchini bread, I had no problem using everything. I can’t get enough of those summer vegetables. At this time of the year, they are still so good, especially those Upstate tomatoes. I might just make one last batch of ratatouille.
Fall vegetables have also appeared. The winter squashes (especially spaghetti squash) are back. Tender cabbages, carrots, beautiful potatoes, leeks and a lot of kale has been coming my way as well. Soups and stews are reappearing on my stove, and after a busy cooking season I just want to make easy stuff that will hold in the fridge for a few days.

I introduced spaghetti squash to a few of my overseas guests. Apparently, they are not as popular (or available) in Europe as they are in North America. It took me a few years, but I have really started to like spaghetti squash. I love scooping out “the spaghetti” after they are cooked. I oven roast my squashes over the weekend and keep in the fridge for a few days. You can use them for any meal that asks for spaghetti. I prefer them in a salad but have also been adding them to soups and stews.

While perusing for recipes on the web, I found a nice recipe idea from the blog Cookie +Kate, using the spaghetti squash as a bowl. I have included her recipe, but the possibilities are of course endless. I made my own variation, using what I had on hand, but I will still call my bowl version Mediterranean. I had Trader Joe’s chickpeas with parsley and cumin on hand. I find those to be great pantry items, to use when in a rush or in a “I really don't want to cook” mode. I usually discard most of the soybean oil from the can and use olive oil instead. For my bowl I used some beautiful tomatoes and bell peppers from the farm and mixed them with the chickpeas, salt, pepper, and a good olive oil.

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Bowls (Cookie and Kate Blog)

  • 2 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion (about ½ small onion)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and/or parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese or grated Parmesan (optional), for garnish

Parsley-basil pesto

  • ¼ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)*
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. To prepare the spaghetti squash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Use a very sharp chef’s knife to cut off the tip-top and very bottom ends of each spaghetti squash. Stand the squash upright on a stable surface and slice through it from top to bottom to divide it in half. Repeat with the other squash.
  2. Use a large spoon to scoop out the spaghetti squash seeds and discard them. Drizzle each squash half with 1 teaspoon olive oil and rub it all over the inside and outside of the squash, adding more oil if necessary. Sprinkle salt and pepper lightly over the interiors of the squash, then place them cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, until the interiors are easily pierced through with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, to prepare the chickpea salad, combine the chickpeas, bell pepper, onion, olives, chopped basil and/or parsley, garlic, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Stir to combine. Taste, and add more lemon juice and/or salt if necessary. Set aside.
  4. To prepare the pesto: In a small skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring often, until they are fragrant and making little popping noises, about 5 minutes. Pour the pepitas into a food processor and let them cool for a few minutes. Then, add the basil, parsley, lemon juice, water and salt. Process while slowly drizzling in the olive oil, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary, until the pepitas have broken down to create a pretty smooth sauce. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl for serving.
  5. To assemble, use a fork to fluff up the squash and make it easier to eat. Then divide the chickpea salad between the squash “bowls” and top each one with a generous drizzle of pesto. Finish with a sprinkle of chopped herbs and cheese, if desired. Serve immediately. Leftovers keep well for about 3 days; if you plan to have leftovers, store the pesto separately and top the squash with it just before serving.

I had a lot of broccoli in my fridge last week. While I know it’s a very  nutritious vegetable, it’s not my favorite. I like it oven roasted at a high temperature though. I have tried and really like a vegan broccoli casserole as well. It’s from the blog “Full of Plants”  that I have followed for years and mentioned a few times as well. I used quinoa instead of rice (worked really well) and topped my dish with gluten-free Panko. I skipped the thickening part of the sauce (it seemed thick enough and I used less water than indicated) and omitted the sugar as well. Instead of soaking the cashews overnight (which I usually forget), you can just soak them for 30 minutes in boiling water.

Vegan Broccoli Rice Casserole from Full of Plants

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup wine
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1 TBSP white miso
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1tsp salt 1 garlic clove
  • 2 TBSP tapioca starch
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups broccoli florets

Soak the cashews overnight in cold water. You can speed up the process by pouring boiling water over the cashews and letting them sit for 25-30 minutes.

Rinse the cashews and drain them well.

Blend the cashews in a high speed blender with the water, white wine, nutritional yeast, oil, white miso, onion powder, salt and garlic. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. Transfer the sauce to a medium saucepan and add the tapioca starch. Heat it over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens. This step will take approx five minutes. Set aside.

Coat the rice with the sauce. Transfer the cooked rice and cheese to a mixing bowl. Stir to coat the rice with the sauce. Add the broccoli florets and stir to combine.

Transfer to a baking dish, cover with foil

Bake the casserole for 35 minutes in a 350 degrees oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until the top is slightly brown.

Lots of kale coming my way as well. This hearty green is perfect for soups, salads, stews or sautéing but my favorite way is still massaged and in a salad. The following (and absolutely delicious salad) is inspired from the blog Full of plants as well. I made a big bowl, and it disappeared in two days.

Carrot Kale Salad

  • Massaging the kale softens and tenderizes it by breaking down the fibers.
  • 3 cups lightly packed kale
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 TBSP kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup (optional)
  • For topping you can use fried onions and roasted cashews or almonds

Chop the kale and add to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle it with salt, lemon juice and sesame oil. Massage the kale until it becomes darker and tender . The oil, lemon juice and salt are acting as your salad dressing as well.

Add the grated carrots to the bowl and stir to mix.
Add the maple syrup and mix.

Top with the cashews (or almonds and the fried onions.)

I always have miso in my fridge. Miso is a traditional Japanese condiment that has gained popularity worldwide for its unique flavor and health benefits. Made from fermented soybeans, miso has a rich and savory flavor. It’s not only rich in essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, fibers, and minerals, it contains probiotics that support gut health. For years my preferred miso has been the Miso from the South River Miso company. Check out their site at

For a fast lunch or dinner, I like to make a big batch of miso soup for the week with the vegetables, and protein that I have available. Add seaweed for an extra nutritional boost if you like.  I cook the noodles separately and add them later when I heat up the soup. There are many noodles available, but my favorite brand is (and has been for a while) the King Soba Noodles. You can find them online at They are organic, vegan and gluten free and very easy to cook.

There are several types of noodles that you can use depending on taste or sensitivities. Ramen noodles are very easy to find, easy to prepare and hold well in a soup. They are made from wheat flour. If you want a thicker noodle than the ramen noodle, you can use Udon noodles. These are thick and chewy and also made with wheat flour. I made those once myself, during Covid. I should do it again, they were delicious. If you prefer a wheat free version go with the Soba noodles. Soba noodles are traditionally made from buckwheat flour.  I have found that a lot of Soba noodles use a mix of regular flour and buckwheat, probably to make the cooking process easier. King Soba noodles are made without wheat.  Another alternative for noodles is rice noodles. I use them regularly, but mostly for Pad Thai. They are made from rice flour and water.

I have also started to use Shirataki noodles. Those have become very popular, because they are very low in carbs and calories. They can be easily found at your local supermarket. They are translucent and gelatinous and are made from the konjac yam. The following recipe is just to give you an idea. You can use most vegetables, any noodle that you like, add your own protein (I like tofu). This recipe boils the vegetables. I prefer to sauté mine first and then I add the water. The miso is added at the last moment.

Miso leek soup for 2

  • (Soba) Noodles (Cook in advance, according to the package instructions and add to your steaming soup)
  • 2 TBSP miso (more if you prefer saltier)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium leek
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 leaf of Kombu seaweed
  • 6 x 1 inch squares of Nori seaweed


Pour the water into a large pot. Add the knob leaf if using and the chopped up vegetables. Heat on high heat and cook until almost tender. Add the miso and cook for a few more minutes on low. Remove soup from heat and remove the combo leaf. Divide the noodles in a bowl and pour rye soup over it. Garnish with the nori and the sesame seed.

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