Going Farm to Table for the Holidays

John and Laura Smith work at their Serene Green Farm Stand. Michael Heller photo
John and Laura Smith work at their Serene Green Farm Stand. Michael Heller photo

By Gavin Menu

When most people think about the quintessential East End farm stand their thoughts often shift to visions of picture-perfect corn teeming off old, wooden tables or ripe red beefsteak tomatoes settled among a sea of leafy greens.

As summer gives way to fall, though, the local farm landscape changes dramatically. Gone, for the most part, are corn and tomatoes and much of the bounty from late summer, replaced by quirky varieties of winter squash along with the more traditional butternut and acorn varieties. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, Brussels sprouts and root vegetables like turnips, parsnips and celery root combine with potatoes and carrots to provide a spectacular array of color on both farm tables and platters back home.

“The warm weather this year has also extended the season,” said Laura Smith, who owns and runs the Noyac farm stand Serene Green with her husband, John. “We still have peppers and tomatoes. We also have radishes. And we’re still cutting herbs like sage, rosemary, mint and thyme.”

For Ian Calder Piedmonte, a partner with Alex Balsam at Balsam Farm in Amagansett, fall translates to a farm stand abundant with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and greens like spinach, an especially popular item at the Amagansett farm stand.


“It’s a cold weather crop,” said Calder-Piedmonte, who noted while the farm grows the crop throughout the spring and summer, it is in the colder months that it stands out as one of his favorite crops.

As early winter approaches, devout locavores have to dig deep in search of side dishes or desserts for their holiday table. In addition to the vegetables mentioned above, the East End is blessed with apple orchards that deliver incredible fruit throughout the winter, thanks to storage facilities at farms like the Milk Pail in Water Mill. Local potatoes are also available throughout the holidays as they hold well in barns naturally chilled by the cold weather.

John and Laura Smith keep their bounty going through the holidays, closing up shop on December 24 after selling their last Christmas tree or handmade wreath. They also have a full time chef who prepares holiday menus. A few of their favorites include Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon marmalade, cauliflower gratin and gluten-free sweet potato and apple stuffing.

Calder-Piedmonte is also partial to Brussels sprouts for his holiday table.

“I have had it with bacon,” he said, “and its delicious, but I really like them just steamed and lightly pan-friend, where they get a little crispiness to them.”



j-tarte-4-verticalMy Dad’s Apple Tarte Tatin

The Crust:

1 cup flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 stick butter

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut cold butter into small chunks and work into flour mixture with hands until the consistency of granola. Whisk egg and vanilla together and add to flour mixture. Gently combine until dough comes together to form a ball. Refrigerate for at least four hours.

The Apples:

6 Jonagold or Granny Smith Apples

1 stick butter

½ cup sugar

Generously butter the interior of an 8-10” cast iron pan and coat with sugar, setting three tablespoons aside. Peel and core apples and cut into quarters. Fill the pan with apples and sprinkle top with remaining sugar. Cook on stovetop over medium-high heat until butter and sugar begin to caramelize, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough to fit pan size and place over the apples. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately flip onto a plate. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.



Roasted Root Vegetable Medley with Pumpkin Seed Butter

1 lb. butternut squash or preferred winter squash

1 lb. turnips

1 lb. parsnips

½ lb. celery root

½ lb. carrots,

½ cup olive oil

3 Tbsp. chopped sage, thyme, chives or other fresh herbs

1 stick butter

¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds

salt and pepper

Toast pumpkin seeds in a pan and let cool. Rough chop and add to butter along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Whip together to form compound butter. Refrigerate for up to a week.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut root vegetables into 1” chunks (parsnips into 3” batons) and coat with olive oil. Toss with herbs and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place on sheet trays being careful not to crowd the vegetables. Roast until tender, 15-20 minutes. Vegetables can be refrigerated for up to a day. When ready to serve, combine vegetables in a roasting pan and cover with pumpkin seed compound butter. Roast for 10 minutes, toss to coat with butter and serve.