Restaurant News & Reviews

Whatcom County cooks yearn for fall and casseroles, soups, pie

Butternut squash and yellow split peas highlight this hearty fall soup – with a base of onion, rosemary, garlic and pancetta – that includes kale and chunks of tomatoes.
Butternut squash and yellow split peas highlight this hearty fall soup – with a base of onion, rosemary, garlic and pancetta – that includes kale and chunks of tomatoes. rmittendorf@bhamherald.com

We saw some of the warmest days of the year last month, as temperatures pushed above 80 degrees and even topped 90 in some areas of Whatcom County. Those were hardly afternoons to roast a chicken or turn leftovers into a casserole.

But Western Washington foodies know the recent crisp evenings mean cooler weather is approaching. And with the fall rains come comfort foods that warm the house as well as the soul. In response to social media requests, area residents shared the dishes that they are looking forward to cooking once summer’s heat subsides.

“Butternut squash everything!” exclaims Zahra Elkhafaifi of Bellingham. She peels and cubes the thin-skinned gourd, simmering it in water with garlic and onion and adding cumin, coriander and other traditional spices of her family’s Libyan homeland to give the dish a Middle Eastern flavor.

Soup, soup, and more soup. Oooooh and homemade apple-pear sauce.

Jeremie Parsons of Sudden Valley

“I mostly make soup, but I also love a casserole,” Elkhafaifi said. “For the casserole, I cube it and put Parmesan cheese on top.” She will add various greens and other ingredients to the spiced and pureed squash, making the soup a hearty meal.

“I like leafy greens – spinach or kale – maybe some potatoes,” she said. “I really like spaghetti squash. I like to make it as ‘spaghetti’ and put sauce on top.” She also uses squash in pies, another of her cool-weather favorites.

A few kinds of squash are available locally year-round, said Russell Duncan, assistant produce manager at the Community Food Co-op’s downtown market. But a wider variety of fresh Northwest squashes will start arriving in mid-September, he said.

Squashes

Diane Sanders-Rehberger of Sudden Valley enjoys delicota squash. “(I add a) sprinkle of curry sliced lengthwise face down (in the oven),” she said.

Apples

“Apple crisp with Honeycrisp apples picked from Bellewood Acres,” said Natalie Hugo of Bellingham.

For Jeremie Parsons of Sudden Valley, it’s “soup, soup, and more soup. Oooooh and homemade apple-pear sauce. Super easy. Peel and cube some pears and apples. Throw them in a pot with a small amount of water, cinnamon, nutmeg, white sugar and brown sugar. Cook on the stovetop until easy to smash. I like to leave it partially chunky.”

Soups

Pam Fales, owner of the Little Roadside Tavern in Everson, cites chanterelle bisque as her favorite soup. For Kristy Carrico Smith of Sudden Valley, it’s “white chicken chili ... anything in my crockpot ... I use it three to four times a week once the school year starts.”

Casseroles and baked dishes

“I already made a meatloaf” on a recent cool evening, said JoAnne Folsom of Birch Bay. “But now I am looking forward to chicken and dumplings.”

Whatcom County resident Alicia Azure loves a dish called Chicken Bacon Ranch Lasagna, saying, “My wonderful sister-in-law gave it to me.” Find the recipe online.

“Potato soup, scalloped potatoes and ham, pretty much any type of casserole,” says Brandi Wydur of Blaine.

Pumpkin spice

“Pumpkin everything!” said Ashley Larson of Sudden Valley. “And broccoli cheese soup! Now I’m hungry!”  

Spelling of Brandi Wydur’s name was corrected Sept. 23, 2016.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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