The first day of fall arrived on a Saturday. I went to the market, fully expecting to stock up on the last of summer vegetables – as I tend to hold on to eggplants, zucchini, asparagus until they disappear from the stands for the rest of the year, with both hands.
But this particular Saturday, I arrived at the market and saw the first of the autumn squash, the pumpkins and parsnips and couldn’t help but snatch them up along with my eggplants and zucchini.
As I’ve said, though I LOVE my vegetables, I’m not a vegetarian. I had to give it up when I moved to France. While it’s easy to cook with the wide variety of vegetables available at the markets, it’s almost impossible to eat out at the restaurants de gastronomie. If there’s one thing that has been nailed firmly into my brain this week, it’s how the French eat. Vegetables are not a main course. They are the garnish, they are the side. Well prepared, lightly seasoned to bring out maximum flavor, soft and easy to digest.
This recipe is reminiscent of the side dishes I’ve had at several restaurants here. Slowly roasted autumn vegetables with little more than olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage. They are sweet, warm and full of the season.
And because the French cannot eat vegetables without some meat, I served them with a Boudin Blanc de volailles et morilles – or Chicken Boudin Blanc with morels. This white sausage, traditionally made from pork, is a very well known delicacy from the Pays de la Loire region and was adopted by the Louisiana Creoles. In France morels are often added to deepen the flavor. In the Americas, Cajun spices are mixed in and grilled.
The Boudin Blanc has a lovely, milk-meat flavor (not surprising because it’s made with milk and rice) and a soft texture not often found in sausage. When pan-fried, the outside becomes crunchy, crispy and the inside is tender.
Together, these two brought a bit of gastronomic autumn to my plate and filled my home with the scent of sweet roasting vegetables.
- 1 small pattypan squash, about 100g*
- 1 large carrot
- 1 large slice yellow onion
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- Handful of Chard, washed and trimmed – optional
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt, pepper, dried sage to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Wash, peel, trim your squash and carrot. Slice them any way you like, I tried to cube mine, but it’s never pretty even. Mince your onion and garlic and put everything into a medium size casserole dish. Add olive oil, season with salt and pepper and sage to taste and toss gently until the vegetables are evenly coated. Baked for 15-20 minutes.
- When 20 minutes are up, toss the vegetables again, add more olive oil if desired, and bake again another 10-20 minutes until vegetables are soft and brown.
- Serve warm with meat of choice.