4 Delicious Recipes to Make the Most of Autumn Produce

Autumn produce - Good Food Gift CardAutumn is upon us and that means one thing… an exciting time for fresh produce.

Spring and summer work wonders for fresh fruits and vegetables, bringing the warmth required for ideal ripening. As summer comes to an end, much produce is at its best. Watermelons and rockmelons are their sweetest, tomatoes are everywhere, eggplants are a bargain and mushrooms start to sprout. Nut trees drop their nuts, pears are at their peak and lemons become plentiful again. Just think of all the cooking you can do!

Knowing when produce is at its best goes a long way in preparing delicious meals and treats. Different months bring different produce to the table, so it’s worth taking note. When you eat with the seasons, you:

  • Add a variety of nutrients to your diet, as you shift from eating one food and move to another
  • Avoid overdosing on certain compounds, such as oxalic acid found in spinach
  • Eat food that tastes better
  • Keep food interesting throughout the year

Here’s a quick look at the favourites of the season:

March – Pears, Apples, Figs, Persimmon & Pumpkin

April – Chestnuts, Wild Mushrooms, Pomegranate, Olives, Walnuts

May – Quince, Navel Oranges, Horseradish, Pawpaw, Brussels Sprouts

Other produce to enjoy includes: Asian vegetables, almonds, papaya, bananas, avocados, watermelon, custard apples, tomatoes, grapefruit, tamarillo, mandarins, parsnips, passion fruit, rhubarb, silverbeet, sweet corn and snow peas.

Autumn is a time of abundance. Flavours are strong and that makes for some of the best cooking. For most chefs, it’s their favourite time of year and when they can be at their most creative in the kitchen. Cooking with seasonal produce is easy and not only can you shop locally, you can save money while you’re at it.

So get to your local farmers market and start cooking!

Top recipe ideas for autumn cooking

Tomato Farro Salad

Autumn often isn’t yet cool enough to enjoy hot soups for lunch, but you also don’t fancy a summery light salad. Somewhere in the middle sits this delicious and healthy tomato farro salad, which uses some of the best seasonal produce.

Salad

1 cup farro (a versatile and super healthy ancient grain)

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

½ head cauliflower, chopped

¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

¼ cup diced red onion

Small bunch finely chopped Italian parsley

Vinaigrette

2 tbs red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic

1 tsp Dijon mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Rinse farro under cold water and add to a pot containing 1 ½ cups of water. Cover and bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients.
  3. Toss with vinaigrette.

Pumpkin, Leek & Spinach Quiche

Quiches are perfect for autumn, offering the ideal seasonal meal served with a side of salad leaves. Pumpkins are beautiful and plentiful in autumn, making them delicious, cost-effective and the perfect ingredient for this scrumptious quiche.

Ingredients

700g butternut pumpkin, cubed

1 leek, thinly sliced (pale section only)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

100g baby spinach leaves

4 eggs

2 egg whites

80g low-fat ricotta

¼ cup skim milk

⅓ cup fresh basil leaves

Method

  1. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper and bake pumpkin for 25 minutes at 200 degrees.
  2. Grease a large non-stick frying pan and cook leek over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach until it wilts (approx 3 minutes).
  4. Spread pumpkin and leek mixture over the base of a lined slab pan.
  5. Whisk eggs and milk in a jug and pour over pan.
  6. Sprinkle with ricotta and bake for 20 minutes until golden.
  7. Sprinkle with basil and serve with salad leaves.

Pear and Hazelnut Cake

This moist and delicious pear and hazelnut cake is perfect with a cuppa and brings together seasonal pears, hazelnuts and chocolate with a seamless blend of flavours.

Ingredients

100g blanched hazelnuts

140g self-raising flour

175g cubed butter

140g brown sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

3 ripe packham pears

50g good quality dark chocolate, chopped small

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 140 degrees (fan-forced) and line base of a loaf cake tin.
  2. Using a food processor, grind hazelnuts until fine. Add flour and butter and pulse until crumbly. Add sugar and mix briefly.
  3. Peel, core and chop half the pears and add to cake mix along with the chocolate.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and decorate with sliced pear on top. Press down lightly and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  5. Serve warm or cold with a dusting of icing sugar.

Leek, Mushroom and Chicken Pies

These no-fuss leek, mushroom and chicken pies are a delicious twist on the traditional pie, adding a lighter, autumnal element. Serve with some homemade chips and a simple salad.

Ingredients

6 sheets filo pastry

50g butter

6 chicken thigh fillets, cut in small cubes

200g Swiss brown mushrooms, halved

2 leeks, sliced

2 tsp Dijon mustard

½ cup sour cream

1 tbsp chopped tarragon

Juice of half a lemon

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Cut filo strips into three squares, brush with butter and layer into four stacks.
  3. Line four 10cm fluted tart tins with pastry stacks. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Add a splash of olive oil to a non-stick fry pan and cook chicken over high heat for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Add more oil and fry mushrooms and leeks until tender.
  6. Return the chicken to pan and add sour cream, lemon juice. Bring to the boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Season and fill pastry cases with chicken mixture.
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Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour has been an entrepreneur for 35 years in the hospitality sector. French born, she has been an accomplished business owner and operator for a number of Sydney venues. Leading the industry with high profile institutions such as Lamrock Café Bondi, she has endless passion for the industry, and now has the pleasure of supporting restaurants to fill their tables with the new Good Food Gift Card program.