Although the official start of Autumn may still be a couple of days away, Georgia is decidedly cooler upon my return from the west coast. For the first time since I moved to the South at the start of July, there is a crispness to the air in the evenings. The stifling humidity has lifted, seemingly resigned to the impending arrival of Fall and the accompanying cooler days, cozy sweaters and earthy, comforting meals.
This is the season of roasting, baking and braising. Spicy soups and hearty stews simmering away. The aroma of fresh-baked breads and pastries filling the house. Sweet, roasted root vegetables shine. While many root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions and the like – are available in markets year-round, most begin to peak in early fall when colder weather sets in, converting their starches into sugar.
I am particularly fond of roasting sweet potatoes; the natural sugars in the little orange tubers caramelize especially well. I served them this week – roasted with honey and fresh rosemary – alongside my favorite pan-roasted chicken recipe. The sweetness of the potatoes balances the lemony-richness of the chicken, making for a hearty – and healthy – beginning-of-autumn meal.