Seasonal Pantry: Salads perfect for harvest season
Fall, autumn, harvest, crush: It’s that time of year, the golden season, with its haunting afternoon light, frequently sizzling days, and cool nights. As Sonoma County is increasingly identified as wine country, grape harvest and crush have become what people think of at this time of year. We see gondolas of grapes heading to wineries. We catch the scent of fermentation on a breeze, and there are endless discussions of the quality of the year’s grapes and questions about whether or not every last cluster will be sold.
But this is just one aspect of harvest. Tomatoes still hang heavy on their vines, melons are ready to be gathered and escorted to farmers markets, all manner of peppers and chiles cry out for our attention, quince and apples are dropping from their trees, and there are still lines at roadside strawberry stands. Olives are just beginning to show a blush, as they turn from green to purple.
To bring attention to the extraordinary diversity of our fields, farms, and ranches, Clark Wolf, a food and restaurant consultant who divides his time between New York City and Sonoma County, has launched the Sonoma County Grand Harvest. One easy way to think of Grand Harvest is as a big umbrella, under which Wolf and his colleagues have gathered events that celebrate the season. Sonoma County Tourism has joined in with support to bring attention to the true scope of the season, which includes wine grapes but is not limited to them.
Farm Trails is hosting the web site, which you can find at farmtrails.org or socograndharvest.com. At the site, you’ll find listings for lunches, dinners, classes, fairs, festivals and on-the-farm experiences.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should add that I’ll be joining in this ongoing celebration with a class and workshop or two at Duckworth Family Farm in Sebastopol.
It’s a glorious time of year in Sonoma County, one that makes so many of us realize why we live here and why we find inventive ways to stay and help maintain our diversity and keep it thriving.
A lot of people complain about monoculture but we are not there yet and, with our enthusiasm and a bit of luck, we never will be. Honestly, here in our vast stretch of agricultural land, six major valleys, hundreds of microclimates, and scores of crops, we have it all, or almost all.
With understanding, tenderness, vision, and a lot of hard work, we can keep it.
Every year during this sweet season, we prove, once again, that Luther Burbank was right when he declared that Sonoma County is “the chosen spot of all the earth as far as nature is concerned.”
Feel free to vary the ingredients in this dish to incorporate your garden’s harvest or whatever local produce you prefer. You can also add crumbled cheese.
Fall Salad with Rosamarina, Corn, Haricots Verts & Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette
Makes 4 to 6 servings
— Kosher salt
6 ounces (about 1 cup) rosamarina, orzo or other small seed-shaped pasta (see Note below)
4 ounces haricots verts (green beans), trimmed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar, medium acidity