The Prim Palate: Harvest Flavors in Your Favorite Comfort Foods
As the weather cools and fall encroaches, it’s time to start thinking of comfort food, especially when the dishes feature ingredients from the end-of-summer harvest. We’re talking Colorado green chilies, dark green kale, umami-rich mushrooms and sweet fruits such as late peaches and figs. Using said flavors, chefs all over the metro area are creating menu items that warm, soothe and make us want to snuggle up with a plate or two. Whether it’s 80 or 55-degrees, here are a handful of awesome places to start your harvest comfort tour.
Peaches won’t be around long, but for now you can get them grilled and on top of a hearty salad at this Boulder eatery. Aside from the stone fruit, you’ll find gorgonzola, candied walnuts, red onion, spinach and arugula, all tossed in an orange-champagne vinaigrette. Though the salad proves comforting enough (and healthy too), you can add even more love on top in the form of grilled Atlantic salmon, grilled seasoned tofu and Colorado-raised beef tenderloin. And, if you need even more peaches in your life, try the baked brie with homemade Colorado peach marmalade.
Indulge in the umami-rich nuances of shiitake, trumpet and oyster mushrooms by ordering the spring rolls at this Boulder eatery. Chef Bradford Heap has managed to take the fungi and turn it into a comfort food laced with ginger, tarragon and Kilt Farm spinach. The crispy appetizer comes with a tart and sweet dipping sauce that only highlights the opulence of this seemingly basic dish. It’s the perfect starter for dinner or lunch, especially if you chase these goodies with a cracked pepper burger or fancy avocado toast.
Anyone can get behind a slice of pizza at all times of the year, but if you order the East Colfax pie at this two-location joint, you get a taste of the season as well. Yes, we’re talking roasted green chilies. But unlike other pizzas with the peppers on them, this one has a base sauce made with green chili in lieu of the classic tomato. The toppings include cheddar jack cheese, fresh tomatoes, chicken and bell peppers, all which go great with the feature ingredient. Order it by the slice, as a calzone, on a gluten-free crust, hand-tossed or deep dish, not matter what way you like, it’s all destined to please.
One can’t get enough of green chili in the late summer and early fall in Denver, and at this Berkeley restaurant the pork posole green chili stew is a favorite. Aside from the spicy, rich nature of the dish, one thing that really makes it stand out is it’s gluten-free. Order a steaming bowl for an appetizer and then get a cauliflower steak to go with it. After all, the white, meaty vegetable is also in season. Sit in the backyard if the weather is still nice, or cozy up in a booth or at the bar.
Chicken can be boring, unless you’re getting it at this downtown steakhouse. That’s right, chicken in a steakhouse. But in this case, it’s one of Colorado’s best producers, Mary’s Natural Chicken, and the juicy bird comes with polenta and grilled corn. It also has another seasonal flare, fermented watermelon on the side. And if you’re looking to add another end-of-summer food to the meal, get the ham and figs, an appetizer featuring 3-year Tamworth ham, fresh figs and Meyer lemon and chamomile curd, which sounds like a high-end comfort dish if ever there was one.
Sure, kale has a bit of a California-health-food reputation, but the leafy green can actually be made super decadent. Take the lemon-parmesan kale side dish, which you can order at this Denver University hot spot. Simply put, it’s just the hearty vegetable cooked down and tossed with bright lemon and laced with the savory goodness of parmesan cheese. Pair it with anything on the menu such as the chef’s grilled cheese of the week or sweet and spicy sesame chicken wings. Whether you’re indulging in these comfort foods while taking in a football game or with the family on a Wednesday night, it’s all just right for the season.