Legumes are another excellent addition for those looking to modify their menu to avoid adding more meat or grain-centric dishes. Chapman is already imagining plenty of winter squashes and dried heirloom beans for delicious cassoulets to fend off the coming Nebraska nights' chill. For a hearty, drought-friendly vegetarian entrée, he recommends serving flageolet, great Northern, lima, or cranberry beans with a purée of roasted winter squash (acorn, buttercup, butternut, cushaw, pumpkin, or other), seasoned with apple cider vinegar, chives, and flat-leaf parsley.
Adams, too, has been planning for the winter since summer. "Once it gets to be fall, I buy all of the pumpkins and squash, beets, and turnips that I can, to help me through the winter," she says. Even in good growing years, South Dakota's bounty is winding down by mid October. But Adams' perfect autumn drought meal—a salad of local roasted beets topped with goat cheese from nearby Colorado, followed by braised lamb with a side of roasted vegetables, such as pumpkin—has none of the sad deprivation one might expect. Instead, it is, as every meal should be, a hearty celebration of the local harvest.
Katherine Harmon is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently an associate editor at Scientific American. Her first book, about octopuses, will be published in 2013 by Current, a division of Penguin.