Harvest Moon Menus

harvest-moon-deer-ireland

Be Inspired” Seasonally with Rita Calvert

Some folklore oriented farmers I know describe the Harvest moon as the full moon which lights the way between sunset and moonrise for days in succession. What it always signifies is a period of time filled with rich farm harvest.

 In the days before tractor lights, the lamp of the Harvest Moon helped farmers gather their crops, despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night.

EarthSky.org answered an intriquing question as to “Who named the Harvest Moon? That name probably sprang to the lips of farmers throughout the Northern Hemisphere, on autumn evenings, as the Harvest Moon aided in bringing in the crops. The name was popularized in the early 20th century by the song below.”

Shine On Harvest MoonBy Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth (1903)

Shine on, shine on harvest moon
Up in the sky,
I ain’t had no lovin’
Since January, February, June or July
Snow time ain’t no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon,
So shine on, shine on harvest moon,
For me and my gal.

For those of us with abundant kitchen gardens and stocked-full farmers markets, the month of the Harvest Moon represents menus of vibrant produce. For the month of September we’ll be serving up menus with recipes to celebrate the lunar glow.

photo above: astrophotographer Anthony Lynch of the Harvest Moon, September 2013, – Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland.

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Pasta with Chicken Basil Meatballs and Burst Tomatoes

Serves 4

This dish makes the most of those tomatoes which keep on coming. Feel free to load up with any other vegetable that suits your fancy like summer squash, peppers or eggplant; just toss additional vegetables in the hot olive oil first to brown and then add the cherry tomatoes.

While food shopping I saw a mom point out the quinoa pasta for her family shopping cart. This was like a referral for me and as I tried it,  I found it far superior to the other whole grain and/or gluten free options out there. If you find a good one…stay with it! The fusulli is made with brown rice and quinoa, so it’s not only gluten free, but has the added benefits of 5 grams of protein per 1 cup cooked pasta. Now that’s a bonus!

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 I also discovered the chicken meatballs at Whole Foods while trying to get inspired with something a little different, but not time consuming. These are chicken meatballs are fantastic to use in many choices and makes the dish a breeze to prepare.

  • 8 ounces dry pasta of choice, I used quinoa and brown rice fusilli (corkscrew)
  • 12 ounces Pesto Parmesan Chicken Meatballs (from Whole Foods)
  • 1 1/2 pints cherry red and yellow tomatoes, about 3 cups
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

 Cook the pasta according to package instructions; drain pasta and reserve, keeping warm.

 Preheat the oven to 425F. When hot, add the meatballs and brown for 8-12 minutes.

 In a large saute pan heat the 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the tomatoes, rolling around to coat with oil. Cover with a lid and shake gently to heat on all sides. Momentarily, remove the pan from heat and check to see if tomatoes are ready to burst. When almost split, press gently with a long-handled spatula. Add the remaining olive oil and garlic; cook for about 3 minutes.

 Add the cooked pasta and meatballs, toss together and heat until all are warm. Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving toss in the basil. Serve immediately, topped with parmesan cheese.

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Zesty Watermelon with Pistachio and Lime

When a group of us have our River parties, we all participate in bringing some freshly made, usually seasonal food. This pure and simple treatment for abundant watermelon got us all excited. Go easy on the cayenne until you give a taste to check the heat.

  • 2 cups cut-up watermelon, in triangle shape
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and ½ teaspoon grated lime zest.
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped salted roasted pistachios

 In a medium flat bowl, toss the watermelon gently with the lime juice. Sprinkle with cayenne and toss. Add the pistachio nuts on the top and serve.

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