Most "harvest foods" are the ones we remember Mom or Grandma cooking, making the entire house smell thickly of spices, fruits and delicious vegetables fresh from the garden. In times before central heating and air conditioning, these foods were meant to warm the house as well as the people living in it. They were treated as a farewell to summer and a way to prepare for the coming onslaught of winter.
Appetizers are usually rich bites of a wheat product, matched with a vegetable and sometimes mixed with dairy products. These delicious temptations vary from simple things like Chex Mix with baked root vegetables mixed in, to pastries stuffed full of zucchini, carrots and cheese. Hummus mixtures are very popular dips or spreads for cracker sandwiches during the harvest months. Traditional green salad ingredients are no longer at their peak by the time harvest rolls around, so many people create sliced fruit and nut salads with apples, pears, walnuts, pecans and dried cherries to offer their guests.
Main Courses and Side Dishes
Main dishes and side dishes should show off the fruits of the hard work performed to present the meal. If the weather is cooling off, stews and soups chock full of turnips, potatoes, carrots and onions are likely to be appreciated by everyone. If pumpkins are in season, try making a creamy hot pumpkin soup and serving it in the shell of the pumpkin. Hot cornbread muffins fresh from the oven are also very common sights during this time the year. Pork, lamb, beef and venison are all appropriate meats to serve, in any fashion except barbecue. Squash (including zucchini), almost all root vegetables, apples, and dried or canned fruits and vegetables are all wonderful additions as garnishes or full side dishes.
The harvest is the beginning of the season when most "classic" desserts are in full view in the United States. Apple, pumpkin and pecan pies, dessert breads and a thousand different types of cookies are omnipresent until just after the new year dawns. These comfort foods are sure to pack on the pounds, so make sure they're worth every bite! Throwing a handful of dried blueberries and cherries in a zucchini bread will make the dessert both savory and sweet. Fruit tarts are also very common treats during the harvest. Best of all are popcorn balls and caramel apples, which are easily made and a treat enjoyed by nearly everyone.