I've noticed that when you buy in season, your produce just tastes better—and your grocery bill is lower! So this week's recipes are super simple on purpose—they let the produce play the shining role.

By Jenna Weber

As I've become more and more settled into my new home in Northern California, I have begun to completely embrace the foodie lifestyle here. Everyone I've met buys their groceries at multiple places, and thanks to them I've become addicted to farm stands.

What's at the stand right now? Squash, apples, pears, pomegranates, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and leeks. I've noticed that when you buy in season, your produce just tastes better—and your grocery bill is lower! Even if you can't hit up your local farmers' market each week, you can still save big at the checkout line by choosing seasonal produce. Check your supermarket's circular each week for even more deals.

This week's recipes are super simple on purpose—they let the produce play the shining role.

  • Grocery list:
  • 1 package chicken sausage links, preferably organic and all natural (Trader Joe's makes some good ones!)
  • 1 package whole-wheat hot dog buns (I like Ezekiel sprouted wheat buns, which you can find at Trader Joe's or health-food stores)
  • 1 onion
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers, green and red
  • Ketchup, mustard, hot sauce
  • 3-lb sugar pumpkin (These are deep orange and smaller than the kind you carve—look for the label at your local supermarket or farm stand)
  • Garlic
  • 1 quart chicken or veggie stock
  • Half-and-half
  • Cayenne
  • Fresh thyme
  • Dried, giant lima beans
  • 1 shallot
  • Swiss chard
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Rustic bread (I like a good sourdough)
  • Goat cheese
  • 4 sweet potatoes or garnet yams
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 package cheddar cheese
  • Dried parsley
  • Oregano

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Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Soup With Goat Cheese Tartines
Making this soup from scratch allows you to pack in more flavor by roasting the pumpkin wedges. The goat cheese tartines make your meal seem extra special.

3-lb sugar pumpkin
3 cloves garlic
3–4 cups chicken or veggie stock
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup half-and-half
Dash of cayenne
2 sprigs thyme
4 slices rustic bread, such as sourdough
4 ounces goat cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut open the pumpkin and clean out the seeds. Save them to roast later—they're delicious! Slice the pumpkin into wedges and rub olive oil over each wedge, then season all the wedges with salt and pepper. Place the wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the thyme and 2 cloves of garlic tucked underneath. Roast for 40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool before peeling away the skins and squeezing the garlic cloves out of their skin.

2. Place pumpkin chunks, garlic, and thyme into a blender with the chicken stock and process until smooth. Pour soup into a soup pot, season with salt and cayenne, and whisk in the half and half. Keep warm on the stove while you prepare the toasts.

3. Your oven should still be preheated at this point. On a baking sheet, lay each slice of bread and top with a piece of the goat cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread has started to crisp. Remove from oven and serve each slice alongside a bowl of soup.

Giant Lima Beans With Swiss Chard
These aren't your grandmother's bland, soggy beans! Garlic, shallots, Swiss chard, and Parmesan make this simple recipe worthy of your main dish. Serve it alongside a big, seasonal salad.

1 cup dried, giant lima beans
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 shallot, minced
6 cups Swiss chard, chopped
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water. In the morning, drain the beans, add fresh water, and simmer for 1 hour or until tender. I tend to do this while I'm getting ready for work. Drain cooked beans and refrigerate until later.

2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 4–5 minutes. Add garlic and briefly cook until there's an aroma, just about 30 seconds. Add the beans and spread out with a wide spatula so each bean is flat in the oil. Cook without touching for 4–5 minutes. Flip beans and cook other side the same way.

3. When beans are crispy and golden, add the Swiss chard and toss gently, careful not to smash the beans. Cook until chard has just wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Chickpeas and Cheddar
Baked stuffed potatoes are an easy, weeknight crowd-pleaser, but the starchy white spud can quickly become a fat trap when you pile on sour cream and loads of cheese. Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene A, plus they pack more fiber. The chickpeas also provide a healthy dose of fat.

4 sweet potatoes or garnet yams
2 cups chickpeas, cooked (from scratch, or canned if you must!)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, freshly grated if possible—or better yet, goat-milk cheddar cheese (my favorite)
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Dash of oregano
Dash of cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. Heat the chickpeas in a pot on the stove and add seasonings (plus salt and pepper). When hot, remove from stove and mix in the cheese, gently mashing the chickpeas with the back of a fork and mixing until the cheese has semi-melted in with the beans.

3. Slice each sweet potato open down the center and gently mash up center. Scoop a half cup of chickpea mixture into center of each potato and serve.

Grilled Chicken Sausage Dogs With Caramelized Onions and Peppers
Every kid loves hot dogs—but parents generally don't love all the chemicals and fat that come with them. Try this healthy spin on a kiddie classic. I bet they'll love this version even more!

4 chicken sausage links, preferably organic and all natural (Trader Joe's makes some good ones!)
4 whole-wheat hot dog buns (I use Ezekiel sprouted wheat buns)
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bell peppers, green and red, sliced thin
Ketchup, mustard, hot sauce

1. Prepare grill (or, alternately, you could cook the sausage in simmering water) and place hot dog buns in foil and set in a 300° oven to keep warm.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add onions and peppers and cook on medium/low for about 15 minutes or until golden and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. While onions are cooking, grill chicken sausage. Prepare each hot dog with onions, pepper, and condiments.