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A Fall Harvest Dinner

by Bridget Charters

We of the Pacific Northwest love the seasons, and fall is yet another amazing time of year with cool nights and periodic sunny days, fall leaves, pumpkins and squash, mushrooms, beautiful kales, new crops of potatoes, the last of the green beans, the final tomatoes on the vine, and grapes ready for harvest. You may still be out enjoying time on the water, and if you are travelling around Puget Sound, there is harvesting and foraging to be done and farmers markets to enjoy with a plethora of options for a great fall dinner.

My fall favorites are the amazing squash, local grapes, and foraged mushrooms. Find those three and you can build a beautiful fall dinner. Chanterelles can be found in fields and lowlands around the Sound but are also plentiful at the grocery stores and markets. If you have a friend who enjoys mushrooming, tag along on one of their excursions to pick some for a dinner.

Squash grows well in the Northwest and stores well, so buy many and store for the winter. Squash will hold for three to four months in a cool, dark storage location. There are many varietals of kale and many are used as ornamentals in gardens. Fall is not the “end” of summer, but another season with many great foods and flavors. I love fall dinners, and it is easy to put a meal together using the aforementioned ingredients.

We have been grilling salmon and steak all summer, so I love a nice pork roast in the fall. Plus, pork goes nicely with herbs, mushrooms, squash, and kale. I rub a pork loin roast down with minced rosemary and wrap up in slices of pancetta. It is quick and easy to put together and takes about thirty minutes to roast. Finally, the warm temperatures have cooled outside and it is reasonable to turn the oven on, so roasting it is for the potatoes and squash! Both squash and potatoes can be eaten with their skin, especially the thin-skinned varieties of squash, like delicata or acorn. Squash and potatoes are great roasted and make for a quick and easy preparation. For dessert, I learned how to make a beautiful focaccia while in Italy. My favorite recipe is topped with grapes, walnuts, and sugar.

Take your inspiration from the seasons! Get outside, forage mushrooms, harvest apples, pick the last of the seasons herbs, and make a trip to your local farmers market for delicious components for dinner. All of these dishes can be done in advance and held at room temperature, except the pork (do that last). Toss the salad and dinner is ready to go. Enjoy!

Salad of Radicchio with a Dijon Vinaigrette

Salad of Radicchio with a Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1 frisee, baby heads (about 6 loose, washed handfuls of greens)
  • 1 head radicchio
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 Belgian endive
  • 1 lemon
  • Italian parsley leaves, plucked from stems
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

For the Dressing

  • 3 teaspoons shallots
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 anchovy
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • A few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • Juice from the grapefruit (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup)
  • Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing, blend shallots, Dijon, salt, pepper, vinegar, and lemon juice, blend them and then gradually add oil, adjust seasoning, and chill. Wash the frisee by soaking in cool water, start by trimming off stem end, and pluck off any bruised leaves. If the leaves are very long, cut in half. Spin dry and store in refrigerator. Cut the radicchio in half, remove the core, and cut into thin strips. Add to the endive. For the fennel, trim off stalks and bottom of stem ends, remove any bruised or damaged outer leaves of the fennel. Cut the bulb from top to bottom in half, then using a mandolin or a sharp knife, cut the fennel very thin and soak in water until ready to use. Spin in salad spinner or dry in towels before adding to the salad.

When ready to make the salad, cut the Belgian endive in half lengthwise. Remove any damaged leaves, then cut the endive on the bias into 1/2” slices, and add to frisee. Add the parsley leaves and fennel to the frisee and endive. Dress, and garnish with shaved parmesan.

Pork Loin Roast with Pancetta and Herbs

  • 6 – 8 lbs. pork loin roast
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh sage, minced fine
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced fine
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 slices Pancetta, 1/8 -inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Rub the pork roast with olive oil, salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Set aside. Blend the herbs and garlic, then rub mix all over the pork. Lay out the pancetta on a flat surface, lining slices side by side to create a rectangular surface for the pork roast. Lay the pork in the center, and wrap the pancetta around the pork, pulling snug. Truss the roast, and lace the pancetta ends under the string. Drizzle with olive oil and place the remaining oil and butter in a roasting pan. Add the roast and cook in a preheated 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and cook another 10 minutes, or until the roast is 150 degrees internal temperature.

Pork Loin Roast with Pancetta and Herbs

Schiacciata con L’uva

Schiacciata con L’uva

  • 1 bunch dark globe grapes, with seeds
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup walnuts, rough chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 recipe basic focaccia dough:


  • Starter Dough (Biga): 6 oz. water (110F degrees), .6 oz. yeast, 8 oz. bread flour

Add yeast to mixing bowl with water, let soften. Add the flour, whisk in and transfer to a container with lid. Store for 24 hours at room temp.

  • Finished Dough: 14 oz. water (110F degrees), .6 oz. yeast, 1 lb. and 4 ounces bread flour, .5 oz. salt, 1 oz. extra virgin olive oil, Biga (made the day before)

Start another batch of dough with yeast and water, then add 1/2 the flour, the biga (type of pre-fermentation used in Italian baking), and the remaining flour. Add the oil and salt, then work into smooth dough with your hands or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Once the dough is smooth and has been kneaded for 10 minutes, place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic, and allow to rise in a warm location for 30-40 minutes. Press the proofed dough into the oiled pan. Press the walnuts into the dough, sprinkle with rosemary, and press the grapes into the surface. Cover and allow to proof (covered) for about 30 minutes, or until puffy. Once proofed, drizzle with olive oil and top with the sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Roasted Delicata Squash with
Sage Browned Butter

  • 3 delicata squash
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped sage leaves
  • Lemon, cut into wedges

Keeping skin on, cut squash into half lengthwise. Slice into half-moons about 1/8 inch thick. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 400 degrees until tender and lightly browned.

Melt the butter in a very large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Allow the butter to bubble and turn golden brown with a toasted fragrance. Watch carefully-this will only take a few minutes. Add the sage and check seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Pile squash on a platter, drizzle with brown butter, and garnish with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Roasted Delicata Squash with 
Sage Browned Butter

Roasted Potatoes Italian style

Roasted Potatoes Italian style

  • Russet or large Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

In a large pot of rapidly boiling water, add salt to taste (about half cup) and add the potatoes (in batches if necessary). Cook the potatoes two minutes then remove from the water with a skimmer and place on a dry cookie sheet. Allow to air dry, do not overcrowd. Once the potatoes are dry, make sure the cookie sheet is dry and liberally coat the potatoes with olive oil. Season liberally with salt and bake at 425 degrees. Cook until a beautiful golden brown. Serve immediately, add more salt if necessary.

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