Harvest Time

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For some reason, I have a tough time each year letting go of summer and welcoming fall—much as I love both seasons. When the sun takes on a lackadaisical slant and the earth smells wet, it makes my chest swell with a sort of nostalgiancholy. So I thought I’d take a cue from one of Noemi’s alphabet books and spell out how harvest feels to me.


HHope. There’s something about harvest that conveys hope to me. It’s the end of a cycle, a time of reaping what was sown in faith knowing it would grow.

AAbundance. I feel such gratitude during harvest for the abundance that it brings. Some of it is subtle, a smile that creeps up when I smell the last of the tomatoes roasting in the oven. Some of it is intimate, gathering with close friends to laugh and toast and enjoy the fruits of our labor. And some is universal, a feeling that the earth has yielded what it will for this year, and that now is the time for restoration.

RRest. I love how the pace here slows as winter sets in — in the vineyards, in our homes. It’s a time when we’re deepening our roots and gaining nourishment to enable the fruits of the next season to flourish.

VVaried. When I hear people say that California doesn’t have ‘real’ seasons, I always beg to differ (and I grew up in Illinois and Connecticut, so I know what people mean by ‘real’ seasons). No, we don’t get snow (although the Mayacaymas mountains do get dusted every few years, and it is magnificent), but each year I’m riveted by the beauty of the vines in their cloak of colors, and the way the autumn mist brings an otherworldly element to the mornings. We most certainly do have seasons here in wine country.

EExuberant. When I think of harvest, I think of laughter. Laughter floating above the vines as we help our friends clip grape clusters row by row. Giggling about garden mishaps that wind up weaving their way into our collective stories. The deep contentment that seems to radiate from people’s faces around the dinner table.

SSustenance. Sustenance is about more than just fueling your body with what it needs to survive, it’s about being a part of a larger whole that feeds our soul . . . as is harvest. Sharing the bounty with those we love is just as much sustenance as the fruits of harvest itself.

TTrust. I sometimes find it hard watching the vines go dormant, the garden laid bare-–both literally and metaphorically. I get impatient for the next season of growth to arrive. But I need to trust-–that the buds will come again, that the fruit will follow, and even that there is purpose to this season of starkness.

This harvest season is heightened for me as we count down the days for Nourish Network’s launch out of beta. It has been a long spring and summer of sowing and hard work and next week, it will all be ripe. You’ll see dramatic changes to the site that will make it much easier to navigate, connect and share. And stay tuned for news on November 2 of an exciting sweepstakes to promote the launch (or shall we say harvest?). Thank you, thank you, thank for your support through this stage . . . I look forward to sharing many more seasons here with you.

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Harvest Pasta

There are so many things I love about this pasta. For one, it’s packed with loads of my favorite vegetables. For another, its incredible flavor is the perfect illustration of just how delicious healthy can be. But it also, to me, captures the essence of the change of season: summer’s bounty exuding a homey scent as it roasts in the oven, a portent of the many braises to come. What can I say? This dish truly nourishes me body and soul.


4 cups eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups sweet frying peppers (like Cubanelle), sliced into thick rings
4 cups tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound dried whole grain pasta (your choice of shape, I especially like fusilli or penne with this)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup basil, torn

Preheat oven to 400.

Toss eggplant, onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and spread in a large, heavy roasting pan. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, turning occasionally, until ingredients are slightly caramelized and melded together into a chunky sauce.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water while vegetables are roasting. Strain pasta and return to pot, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

When vegetables are done, scrape them into the bowl with the pasta and toss. Pour the reserved pasta water into the roasting pan to deglaze and add the vinegar. Pour over pasta and toss again.

Top with cheese and basil and serve.

Serves 8

  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/mountainrn/ mountainrn

    I was trying to think of a word yesterday as I drove back from seeing my hospice patient and listening to the radio as Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” came on. There was a feeling that started in my abdomen – a memory type of thing – and I kept trying to describe it. A song takes you there and “nostalgiancholy” is pretty good. It is gorgeous here right now too – the light has a certain definite slant. And I’ve been roasting tomatoes and clipping clusters of concord grapes and making juice. I too love this time of year . . but I miss summer and dread winter. Thanks for the recipes and also the gift – I used it today for the first time. The cashier just raved and I got a discount for not using paper/plastic! :-)

  • kathleen

    hey lia, great post… really spoke to me about a LOT of things i’ve been feeling lately! and… this is pretty much a pasta dish i make-to the t- when my garden co-opporates- which it did not this year… so thanks! much good wishes for the launch(yeah!)xo,kathleen

  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/liahuber/ Lia Huber

    Steph…I’ve associated Neil Young with this time of year–maybe because of “harvest moon.” Glad you enjoyed! And you are so very welcome for the gift…thank you to YOU for the one you sent back. What a surprise! The rice looks fantastic, and the shirt will be perfect for Noe next summer.

  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/liahuber/ Lia Huber

    Kathleen…nostalgiancholy kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, my garden didn’t cooperate this year either. Hallelujah for the farmers market! Did you see the post on comfort with roast chicken? Inspired by the convo you and Deirdre and I had.

  • kris haugen

    Great way of summing this up. Of course, here in the desert…we are ready for the change but do feel sad when the pool toys make their way to the garage!

  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/liahuber/ Lia Huber

    Kris . . . I’d imagine! I love, though, how there in the desert even there are such distinct yet subtle seasons.

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  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/mountainrn/ mountainrn

    Lia – glad you got it. Speaking of Farmer’s Markets and gardens (ours froze before all the tomatoes ripened) . . I stopped at Julia’s Fruit Stand in Dairyville yesterday and bought a flat of tomatoes . . I’ve been eating them like candy. I was supposed to roast them but they taste so good I can’t stop. We picked all our green tomatoes before the frost so we at least have that. But the flatlanders still have tomatoes growing! So, I’ll probably be back down to get more taste of Summer.