Fall brings a great harvest of foods to Minnesota when a diverse selection of locally grown vegetables and fruit are at their peak. Apples, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, onions, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and corn all make for good eating, and Edina area restaurants rejoice in the bounty.
A cornucopia of autumn cuisine will rekindle your senses. Enjoy fantastic fall flavors in everything from vegetarian tacos to squash pasta, soup to pizza. When it comes to fall dining, Edina restaurants have every course covered.
Three Sisters Corn, Black Bean and Squash Pizza
A trio of fall harvested crops goes into this special flat bread pizza. The “three sisters” have roots in the ancient Native American tradition of sustainable agriculture called companion planting. Squash, corn and climbing beans grow better and with a higher yield when grouped together. Squash leaves make a live mulch that deters weeds, beans add a boost of nitrogen to the soil and corn stalks provide natural growing posts. Black beans, squash and corn may sound like unusual pizza toppings, yet their combined hearty flavors with a touch of spice make a pizza fittingly bold for autumn. $14.75. 4950 France Ave. S.; 952.922.8974.
Butternut Squash Soup
What could be more comforting than a piping hot bowl of soup on a crisp fall day? Crave’s house made butternut squash soup bubbles over with autumn flavors. Roasting the butternut squash bakes in a nutty richness and a hint of caramelized sweetness. “We do put in a touch of coconut and apple juice that gives a unique flavor,” says Evan Freeberg, executive chef. Vegetable stock makes a light vegetarian-friendly base. A garnish of crême fraiche adds a nice balance and more body. A traditional feature on Crave’s fall menu, the butternut squash soup is made with locally grown produce when available. Besides being delicious, butternut squash is packed with healthy fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. $4.50 cup, $7.50 bowl. Galleria, 3520 W. 70th St.; 952.697.6000.
Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash and Onions
Brussels sprouts and Lola’s pizzazz for perfection make a seasonal vegetable starter that swoons. Hearty-sized chunks of butternut squash and red pearl onions are dusted with sea salt and put a soft accent into the Brussels sprouts bite. A roast in the high heat of the pizza oven creates a slightly charred but caramelized texture that sweetens the vegetables. Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano coats the top like a feathered veil that adds rich buttery notes. “Who doesn’t like Parmesan cheese?” says Ann Kim, owner and executive chef. The palate-pleasing combination of Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and pearl onions is her own creation, the result of an extensive testing process. Available fall through winter, this signature side dish is so popular fans mourn its seasonal departure. $10. 5557 Xerxes Ave. S.; 612.424.8338.
Queen of Cakes Design Studio
While carrot cake remains a customer favorite all year round, autumn is its true season of splendor. The warm spices, orange color and heavier texture are just right for fall. Carrot cakes are popular not just for everyday treats but also for weddings and other special events. Queen of Cakes Design Studio can sculpt a carrot cake to fit any occasion. Bejeweled with speckles of carrots, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg, carrot cake has universal appeal. A moist, earthy cake surrounded by a thick cloak of cream cheese frosting cannot be resisted. “It’s been a recipe that took a couple years to perfect but I think we are on the mark,” says Terri Leckas, owner. Her husband, John, was so protective of his secret recipe that he remained the sole baker for two years. Today, others at the Queen of Cakes Design Studio help with the baking. This cake is house-made from scratch with fresh hand-grated carrots and a lot of love. No nuts, coconut or pineapple detract from the crumb. But if you want nuts or fruit in your cake, you can order one with the center filled with a ribbon of deluxe cream cheese frosting studded with coconut shreds, chopped toasted walnuts and plump juicy currants. $2.50 per slice, 6-inch cake $20, call for custom order pricing. 7104 Amundson Ave.; 952.942.7628.
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Like falling leaves in autumn, butternut squash ravioli appear in profusion at Broders’ Cucina Italiana. This longtime customer favorite is available from October through December or “when the chef decides it’s time to make it,” says Molly Broder, owner. Sheets of house-made pasta are dotted with a savory-sweet filling of roasted butternut squash, egg yolks, Grana Padano (hard cheese from Italy used for grating), sage, rosemary, nutmeg and a bit of brown sugar. The pasta is covered like a double crust pie, cut into shapes and flash frozen for sale. To cook, just drop the frozen raviolis into boiling water. A sauce of lightly browned butter and fresh sage with a splash of pasta cooking water transforms this ravioli into a tasty Italian style fall meal. During autumn, the ravioli is prepared this way and served as a seasonal entrée special across the street at the charmingly creative Broders’ Pasta Bar. “Italians are really fussy about quality. That is why their food tastes so good,” says Broder. These butternut squash ravioli live up to the legend. $15 per pound (approximately 16 pieces). 2308 W. 50th St.; 612.925.3113.
A profusion of good-for-you vegetables makes the vegetarian tacos an ideal Mexican dish. The three vegetarian tacos, plus sides of Rojo Mexican Grill’s signature sweet rice and black beans, add up to one hearty Latin meal. For a light starter that compliments the warm flavors with a tangy lime-cayenne pepper tang, try the Cotija grilled sweet corn-rolled in aioli and Cotija cheese. Rojo Mexican Grill uses as many fresh local ingredients as possible in their dishes. A bed of shredded iceberg lettuce is topped with diced sweet potatoes, red peppers and onions. More color comes from a scattering of black beans and a sprinkle of white Mexican Cotija cheese crumbles. A roasted corn aioli adds a creamy zip. “A lot of restaurants don’t utilize sweet potato, which really stands out in our dish,” says Ben Albaugh, assistant general manager. “The roasted corn aioli and Cotija Mexican cheese also make the tacos pop! It is healthy and unique. People have it once and can’t help but order it again on their next visit.” $10.25, Cotija grilled sweet corn $6.25. Southdale Center; 952.595.5495.
Apple Streusel Pie
Cocoa & Fig
Good apples bake into great pies at Cocoa & Fig. An orchard of flavor comes from a mix of Granny Smith, Haralson, Cortland and Empire apples. When Minnesota’s snappy-crisp apple crop is in season, local fruit is used. Prime apples, along with sugar and spice, and a dusting of flour make the luscious filling. Everything piles high into the frills of a fancy fluted piecrust. A home-style streusel blend blankets the apples. Rolled oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon bake into a sea of pebbled, golden-brown, nutty crumbs. “The streusel topping recipe is my great-grandmother’s…and the ample streusel topping is loved by all!” says Laurie Pyle, owner. The apple streusel pie tops the Cocoa & Fig best-seller list for pies--popular for everything from weddings to family holiday celebrations. Pyle recommends a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Choose from three sizes: 2-inch mini $2, 3.5-inch individual $4 or 9-inch whole pie $20.95. Call ahead for availability. Yorkdale Shoppes; 6807 York Ave. S.: 952.926.2764.
The glories of pumpkin pie take on doughnut form at Wuollet Bakery. Full of old-fashioned homespun goodness, the pumpkin doughnut is a traditional cake doughnut with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Year after year, loyal customers and bakery staff embrace the seasonal comeback of the pumpkin doughnut. The aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice along with pumpkin-squash earthiness exudes down to the very last crumb. A clear coating of sugary fondant glaze seals in moisture, ensuring a doughnut that is stick-to-your-teeth gooey fresh. A soft pumpkin doughnut crackling with sugar glaze and a cup of steamy hot coffee can warm your heart even on the coldest of days. “Our doughnuts are very popular, made from scratch by hand every day,” says Catherine Olson, manager. Buy them by the dozen or individually. Hurry; pumpkin doughnuts are only available from September through the holidays. $1.65 each. 3608 W. 50th St.; 612. 922.4341.