Ten months down, two more to go! Welcome to November, the month that perhaps compels us to eat seasonally more than any month in the year. After all, the Thanksgiving meal that takes place later this month is the epitome of eating seasonal, with mashed potatoes and hearty sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin on the table. To get you amped up for this month and its produce superstars, check out these six foods that are at their peak in November, and the dishes you should try with them.
What’s in Season: Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts may have become ubiquitous in supermarkets, but these autumn brassicas are actually at peak sweetness from fall to late winter. Choose small, firm heads with tightly-packed leaves.
What to Make: Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad
Charred brussels sprouts—either leaves that have been deep-fried, or heads that have been halved and oven-roasted—are just about everywhere, but if you’ve never tried a raw brussels sprout salad, you’re in for a real treat. This one gets some sweetness and crunch from Tuscan kale and pomegranate arils.
What’s in Season: Pears
Perfectly ripe pears have a juicy texture and delicately floral flavor that’s a hallmark of autumn, and they taste sumptuous both raw and cooked.
What to Make: Chocolate Pear Tartlets
Summertime strawberries dipped in chocolate get all the hype, but this fall and wintertime fruit is just as delicious a pairing. The key to a successful chocolate-pear dessert is to make sure the chocolate isn’t too sweet, so it doesn’t overpower the fruit’s nuanced flavors.
What’s in Season: Parnsips
Parsnips, which are less bitter than turnips, rutabagas, are the easiest of the root vegetables to cross over to if you grew up disliking the family of vegetables. They’re sweeter, softer and have a pleasant, almost celery-like vegetal quality to them.
What to Make: Parsnip “Pigs” in a Blanket
One easy way to cut back on meat and ease into more of a plant-based diet is to substitute parsnips for meat in classic appetizers like pigs in a blanket. Here, these parsnip “pigs” in a blanket are served with a verdant chimichurri sauce.
What’s in Season: Cranberries
It’s not surprising that cranberries are in season during the month of November, since they play such an unusually prominent role in a certain big meal that takes place this month.
What to Make: Cranberry Curd Pie
Obviously, cranberries make a wickedly good sauce, but they also prove they can handle the dessert spotlight with this zesty, sweet cranberry curd pie with citrus whipped cream.
What’s in Season: Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini and cime di rapa, is at its best during cool-weather months, and has a pleasantly bitter flavor that is an appealing contrast to rich meats, sweet accents and simple seasonings like garlic, chile, salt and pepper.
What to Make: Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Soup
Cooking the broccoli rabe down in a soup mellows its flavor, which foils nicely with spicy (or sweet) Italian sausage.
What’s in Season: Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are available year-round, but their true seasons are fall and winter. Choose firm, unblemished sweet potatoes without any breaks in their thin skin.
Hasselback potatoes, which are prepared by cutting a series of vertical slits in a potato, are all the rage these days—and the technique works just as wonderfully with sweet potatoes (expect a pleasantly crisp skin!). Pecans and savory Parmesan balance out the root vegetable’s sweet, earthy flavor.
If you’re as seasonally-obsessed as we are, tell us: What are you into cooking right now?