The Top 4 Fall Vegetables + How to Eat Them, According to a Farmer

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Playing Farmer Lee Jones Shares His Favorite Fall Vegetables—Including Cucumelons!

It's officially fall! And with fall comes—what else?—fall veggies in our kitchens.

And that's exactly why we brought Lake Erie's favorite bow-tie-wearing farmer, Farmer Lee Jones, on the show to spill on the season's best produce.

But before we get there, we're going to back up for one very important message from Lee: "The big thing is…if we can learn ways to work [vegetables] into our diets raw. We have found through research that over 50 percent of the nutritious value [of produce] is lost when we cook—and even worse when we overcook it."

Which is why he not only wanted to talk about the best veggies of the season, but also share the ones that he knows we'll love raw, too.

Read on for Farmer Lee's top picks!

1. Eggplant

When it comes to eggplant (which is truly one of Lee's favorite foods; he couldn't say enough about it!), he says it's all about the grill—or, if you have one, the fall fire pit! He says throw 'em on, blacken them up, then cut them down the center and add a little salt and butter on it, and *chef's kiss*! "You can eat it right out of the [skin]," he says. "They're fabulous!"

Farmer Lee also churns charred eggplant into a creamy, sesame-topped ice cream that can be served as a dessert or with savory dishes. Get the recipe here.

TRY: Rach's Grilled Eggplant and Mozzarella Sandwiches

 2. Cabbage

"Do you hear that squeakiness?" Farmer Lee asks, ruffling a cabbage head back and forth. That squeak, he says, is a good reminder that vegetables are 90 percent water, and that when you hear the squeak, you've got a fresh one!

Lee, who recently released his cookbook The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables, says put the cabbage—or some kale—raw into a salad, and you're guaranteed extra heartiness.

MORE: Rach's Ideas for Cooking with Cabbage

3. Squash

Lee says he likes to pick his squash small because "if we got them in the garden and we go away for the weekend, we come back and they're the size of a baseball bat!" Keep picking them off small, he says—before they become big, mature plants and die off—and they'll just keep producing more.

The farmer says he likes to quarter or half his squash. "You can even use a mandolin and cut ribbons!" he enthuses. Then pop them raw on your salad or steam them, and voila! All kinds of veggie goodness.

(Rach says she personally loves them with mint and parsley and chilis with lime juice and EVOO—sounds pretty delicious to us, too!)

TRY: David Burtka's Raw Zucchini Salad

4. Cucamelon

Are they a melon? Are they a cucumber? "They're in the same family!" says Farmer Lee. This is not genetic modification, he says, but a petite piece of produce that's being "reintroduced" to the world after being slightly abandoned. "It's great in a cocktail, it's great in a salad, it's great whole," he says, before popping one in his mouth! And Rach agrees: "They're like candy!"

(We think they'd complement John's Cucumber Margaritas pretty nicely!)

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