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:
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!
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.
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
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
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.
700g butternut pumpkin, cubed
1 leek, thinly sliced (pale section only)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g baby spinach leaves
2 egg whites
80g low-fat ricotta
¼ cup skim milk
⅓ cup fresh basil leaves
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.
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
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.
6 sheets filo pastry
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