Our Harvest Kitchen Food Service Manager, Chef Sean Kontos, has been showcasing early fall and late summer produce at our Local Foods Café in downtown Pawtucket. He is happy to share a recipe for you to try at home that showcases some of his favorite local foods of early fall: local beets, fennel, and pepitas or pumpkin seeds.
“Traditionally, muhummara is a red pepper and walnut dip (or spread) from Syria, but I like to make it with red beets and pepitas (of if you wait until halloween, you can use the pumpkin seeds from your jack-o’-lantern instead). The color is a beautiful deep purple and the earthiness of the beets, pepitas, and chili powder has such a refreshing flavor — taking a different approach to the average appetizer. It’s great as a spread for lamb burgers; a dip with pita bread, chips, or crudité; or even just spread on a bagel in the morning!”
Try This from Chef Sean!
5 medium-sized beets — roasted, with ends cut off
1 bunch scallions — chopped roughly
1 head fennel — cut in quarters and roasted, fronds cut off and saved
1 c. roasted pepitas — or substitute pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet chili powder (New Mexican chili powder)
* Add 2 tsp. Aleppo chili powder for a nice bit of heat
- Cut the ends off of the beets (save those greens and eat them!), and lightly toss with olive oil. Roast at 350 degrees until fork-tender.
- Cut the fronds off of the fennel (save them for a garnish), cut in quarters, and roast with a little olive oil for about 15 minutes until they’re golden brown.
- Once the beets are done, peel off the skin and roughly chop them so they fit in a food processor.
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor until it becomes a smooth mixture (it will still be a little chunky because of the pepitas or pumpkin seeds).
- Put on a plate or bowl and garnish with the fennel fronds. Serve with grilled pita bread, pita chips, or your favorite crudité.
About Chef Sean Kontos
Sean is a native of Dover, NH, who has been working in the food service industry for 13 years. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in culinary arts in 2011, he went on to cook around Nantucket and the seacoast of New Hampshire, focusing on local and sustainable cooking particularly tied to whole animal butchery. After backpacking through Europe, he and his now wife moved to Providence where he worked at Local 121, eventually becoming head chef. Most recently, he helped open Farm & Coast Market in South Dartmouth, MA, as a butcher and chef. Sean started out as a volunteer with our RI Farm to School program until moving on to work with Harvest Kitchen. Today he is an important part of our team, playing a major role in our local foods café, crafting our seasonal menu, and bringing skill and expertise to our operations.
Top photo credit: Creative Commons photo, taken by Katie Hargrave.