I love seasonal cooking in early October, because local farmers are selling summer produce alongside autumn fare. In my CSA last week from Whitton Farms, I had cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, and a huge bundle of basil, as well as a half a dozen sweet potatoes.
Since I have a new food processor, I started the week’s cooking with Parmesan and basil chicken salad. For this recipe, I combined the mayo, basil, garlic, and celery into an aioli and tossed it with the chicken. It’s a nice switch from the more typical approach. Plus, I had extra aioli that I used another day to make potato salad.
As a side, I used the food processor again for a white bean and roasted eggplant hummus, a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis. I used my CSA eggplants and doubled the amount of fresh lemon juice called for in the recipe. In addition to Ak-mak crackers (my favorite!) I used fresh cucumbers for dipping. The plate, garnished with pickles, was a nice swan song to summer.
When the temperatures dropped later in the week, I reached for the sweet potatoes, much to my husband’s chagrin. He’s not a sweet potato fan, but he likes Bobby Flay, so we reached a compromise: How about Flay’s sweet potato and coconut soup?
The recipe appeared in a September issue of Parade, and it’s a good one. I particularly liked the spicy sautéed relish made with diced potatoes, butter, parsley, and red-pepper flakes. When I sprinkled the piping hot bowl of soup with the garnish, I felt like a true gourmet.