Crowning Glory

Recipes for a harvest supper to welcome the cool, crisp days of fall.

Crown roast of lamb with couscous, apricot, pistachio & mint stuffing

Food by Chef J Frank. Photography and styling by Fred + Elliott. Flowers by Strawberry Fields. Props courtesy of Crème de la Crème.

When produce hits its peak in a riot of colors and textures, a harvest dinner creates a vibrant display of the fall’s bounty. Start things off with late summer squash filled with savory shrimp and crab. Then, show off the earthy sweetness of the season with a crown roast of lamb stuffed with couscous and apricot. The Three Sisters of corn, beans and squash make a fitting accompaniment along with mushroom ragout spooned over warm polenta. Ginger cake with fried sage and salted caramel butternut squash, served atop creamy labne and alongside a glass of port, finish the meal with a flourish, encouraging guests to laugh and linger into the gloaming of an early autumn evening.

Late summer squash with shrimp or crab

Late Summer Squash with Shrimp or Crab

3-4 squash, a variety of yellow squash and Pattypan 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the squash, cutting them in half. Blanch them for approximately1 ½-2 minutes, depending on their size. Immediately plunge into ice water to halt the cooking process. Drain well on paper towels.

For the shrimp filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup onion, diced

¼ cup red pepper, diced

¼ cup zucchini, diced

1 cup small shrimp, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

½ teaspoon curry powder 

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini and cook 1 minute more. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

For the crab filling:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup onion, diced

¼ cup green pepper, diced

¼ cup celery, diced 

¼ cup fresh corn

¼-½ cup lump crabmeat

½ teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped

½ teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

fresh breadcrumbs

Heat the butter and oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté all the vegetables until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Fold in the crabmeat and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

To assemble, fill the squash boats with either the shrimp or crab filling. Sprinkle the crab filling with breadcrumbs and toast lightly under the broiler until golden brown.

Serves 6-8

Crown roast of lamb with couscous, apricot, pistachio & mint stuffing

Crown Roast of Lamb with Couscous, Apricot, Pistachio & Mint Stuffing

For the stuffing:

5 cups salted boiling water

4 cups couscous

½ cup dried apricots, diced

½ cup pistachios, chopped

1 cup chicken stock, on the boil

½ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 medium onion, diced

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon cinnamon 

½ cup parsley, chopped

¼ cup mint, chopped

salt and pepper 

Combine boiling water and couscous and cook for 8-10 minutes. Place the apricots and pistachios in a bowl and cover with boiling stock. Steep for 10 minutes, then drain the liquid. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the coriander and cinnamon and mix well. Toss the cooked couscous with the apricot mixture, onion mixture, parsley and mint. Add the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until roast is prepared.

For the crown roast of lamb:

crown roast of lamb, approximately 3 ½-4 pounds

salt and pepper

fresh rosemary sprigs

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to roasting. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Season the roast well inside and out, as well as on the bottom, with salt, pepper and a handful of fresh rosemary sprigs. Roast in the preheated oven approximately 35-40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees for medium rare. Half way through the cooking time, wrap the rib bones with aluminum to prevent burning. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes.

To assemble, fill the roast with the warm couscous stuffing before carving. 

Note: A crown roast of lamb can be purchased from your local butcher shop with advance notice.

Serves 6-8

Clockwise from top left: Three Sisters vegetable medley; corn on the cob; polenta with mushroom ragout.

Polenta with Mushroom Ragout

For the mushroom ragout:

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons butter

2 pounds assorted shiitake, cremini, oyster and white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup shallots, minced

1 tablespoon cognac

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely minced

1 teaspoon fresh marjoram, finely minced

salt and pepper

½ cup crème frâiche

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and ½ tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms until golden and all the liquid has evaporated. Add the remaining butter as well as the garlic and shallots. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the cognac and vinegar, and cook until evaporated. Add the chicken stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes, then add the thyme and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add crème fraiche to finish.

For the polenta:

3 cups chicken stock or water

3 cups milk

2 cups polenta

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup mascarpone 

¼ cup Parmesan 


In a medium-sized, heavy-bottom pot, bring liquids to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the polenta and whisk slowly and steadily. Cook until reaching desired consistency, then mix in butter and cheeses. Add extra stock or water if too thick. Season well with salt. 

To serve, spoon the mushroom ragout over the warm polenta.

Serves 10-12

Three Sisters Vegetable Medley

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 cup onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 yellow squash, diced 

2 zucchini, diced

2 ½ cups fresh tomatoes, diced

1 ½ cups each green beans and wax beans, trimmed, blanched and cut in half

2 ½ cups fresh corn, cut off the cob and blanched

salt and pepper

½ cup parsley, chopped

In a large skillet heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for several minutes. Add the peppers, cooking for 3-4 minutes, then add the squash, zucchini and tomatoes. Add the beans and corn. Cook until the vegetables are done but still firm. Season the medley with salt and pepper, then add the parsley and mix well.

Serves 10-12

Corn on the Cob

8 ears of corn, shucked

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 lime

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Melt the butter. Add the juice of half of the lime, plus ½ teaspoon of zest, then whisk in the pepper. Drain the corn and brush generously with the butter.

Serves 6-8

Ginger cake with salted caramel butternut squash, labne & fried sage

Ginger Cake with Salted Caramel Butternut Squash, Labne & Fried Sage

For the ginger cake:

2 ½ cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon 

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

¼ cup fresh ginger, grated

1 cup molasses

1 ½ cups boiling water

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and black pepper in a bowl. In a mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg and fresh ginger. Mix in the molasses, boiling water and baking soda. Add one third of the dry mixture to the wet mixture, combine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat until mixtures are completely combined. Butter and flour the cake pan, then pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm to the touch.

For the salted caramel butternut squash:

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup heavy cream

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

1 cup of butternut squash, peeled and chopped to a medium dice

In a heavy-bottom tall pot melt the sugar over medium-high heat until it starts to turn amber brown in color. Carefully add 4 tablespoons of the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition until butter has melted. Remove from the heat and add the cream slowly, whisking vigorously. Add salt, stir well and keep warm until squash is prepared. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining butter and sauté the squash until light golden brown. Fold the squash into the caramel sauce.

For the fried sage:

3 fresh sage leaves

¼ cup canola oil


Fry sage leaves in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

To assemble, smear 3-4 tablespoons of labne on a plate, place ginger cake on top, garnish with salted caramel butternut squash and top with friedsage leaves.

Serves 6-8

This article originally appeared in our October 2018 issue.

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