fade to brown

As I write this, the sun lights up the kitchen and my profile from the window beside me. The light beams like a film running in continuous motion from a distant projector booth.

I watch several maple trees turn yellow ocher and tangerine in one long slow motion shot from the adjacent window in front of me. Soon their vibrant colors will fade to brown and they will somersault in air until, leaving their dark skeletal branches behind.

We gather them in piles and jump in before depositing the leaves into the compost pile, flower beds, and garden. It is a bittersweet moment, the sweet and light flavors of summer mix with the heartier roots of fall.

Winter squash varieties and sweet plump apples take center stage. Here I must admit my utter giddiness upon seeing my first local acorn and butternut squashes at a local farm stand several days ago. It won’t be long until the green striped pale yellow delicata squash variety turns up. Its succulent yellow flesh tastes like a mix of sweet potato and butternut squash. I covet them this time of year and imagine biting into their baked butter soaked flesh with a pinch of coarse sea salt and covered with a thin rivulet of pure maple syrup and a few fresh tarragon leaves.

To keep me busy until the squash arrives, I walk outside past the colored maples and into our small garden. The tomato plants have wilted and slumped over the raised beds without ever bearing summer fruit. A season of rain proved to be more than these heat loving plants could bear. We also waited to start our garden late due to the wet months of late spring and early summer. Next year will be different, I think.

Basil, chocolate mint, garlic chives, leeks, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme are piled in a basket and carried inside where they will be hung in bundles to dry. Lemon balm, lemon verbena, radicchio, rosemary, shallots, spinach, tarragon, and watercress are on the list to plant in the spring.

Dinner tonight includes French-style lentil burgers with leeks, parsley, and thyme from our garden, and the kale, onions, and potatoes from our local farm share.

I like to melt a few slices of gruyere cheese on top along with a side of parsley walnut pesto (a blend of fresh flat-leaf parsley, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper) and serve with a mixed greens salad.

French Lentil Burger

French Lentil Burgers
adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen

Yield 4 to 6 servings

1 cup dry French green lentils; about 2 cups cooked (brown lentils work too)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onion (chopped small)
1 leek (sliced thin)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
6 kale leaves (stems removed and chopped fine)
2 medium potatoes (cut into 1/4-inch dice and boiled or steamed)
1 medium carrot (diced)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (ground fine)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
4 fresh thyme sprigs (stems removed)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper (to taste)

optional toppings
gruyere, camembert, havarti, or chevre cheese (melted)
parsley walnut pesto (see recipe below)
fresh tomato slices covered with diced chives, sea salt, and black pepper

Place lentils in a medium saucepan and soak overnight (while lentils do not require soaking, doing so aids in their digestion). Drain and rinse lentils. Add water and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes or until lentils are soft and the liquid is gone. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, add vinegar, cooked potatoes, and ground pumpkin seeds; mash well and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and leeks and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, carrots, kale, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Turn down heat to medium-low. Cover and cook about 10 to 15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.

Add the saute to the lentils and mix well. Chill for an hour before shaping patties.

Form burgers into 4-inch rounds. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook on both sides until burgers are heated through and form a crisp exterior. Add a few slices of gruyere, camembert, harvarti, or chevre cheese on top. Cover and cook until cheese melts.

Optional: serve with a side of parsley walnut pesto or fresh tomato slices sprinkled with diced chives, sea salt, and black pepper.

Parsley Walnut Pesto
Yield about 1 cup

2 loosely packed cups fresh parsley leaves (rinsed and dried)
sea salt
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, garlic, walnuts, and 1/4 cup of oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the remaining 1/4 cup of oil gradually. Add the Parmesan and process just to combine. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.


  1. Sam@BingeNYC says

    Ah, I love love love Moosewood! I rely heavily on one of their cookbooks now that I live far from the restaurant. This looks fantastic, perfect for early fall!

  2. Megan@Feasting on Art says

    I am always looking for meat substitute in this BBQ driven country. I will have to give the lentils a go – they look delicious!

  3. Jennie says

    These sound absolutely delicious! The addition of gruyere and parsley walnut pesto sounds so good! I will have to check out this Moosewood cookbook! Thanks so much!

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