Autumn is here bringing with it a crisp and cool change that might move our food preferences to the flavours and warmer cooking methods that the cooler months tend to encourage.
Happily, autumn is also a time of abundance when it comes to fresh produce. Cooking with foods that are in season is a win-win for you, the grower and the environment! Locally produced, seasonal foods almost always come with a cheaper price tag, smaller carbon footprint and are fresher and tastier than cold-stored food.
While the leaves on the trees are turning shades of burnt red, orange, and yellow, so too should our meals. Pumpkin, carrot, beetroot, corn, zucchinis and eggplants bring the colours of the season to our table. While visually appealing, there are also benefits for our health as the more colourful your diet the better! This is because there are different phytochemicals and antioxidants that occur in different coloured foods. To get the most benefit, we need to be eating more than just our greens, but also red, orange and purple fruits and vegetables too!
What fresh produce is at its peak in autumn?
• Leeks – add subtle flavour to frittatas, soups and casseroles with lightly sautéed leek
• Cauliflower – very tasty when roasted with a spray of oil and sprinkle of spices like cumin powder or ground coriander. Steamed cauliflower comes to life when dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
• Pumpkin and Sweet Potato – these are both fantastic roasted or as a soup base. A quick and easy sweet potato and lentil soup recipe can be found here.
• Beetroot – grate fresh beetroot into salads or soup, or try roasting it with other root vegetables for a colourful side dish. This beetroot, feta and chickpea salad can be on the table in less than 5 minutes. See the recipe here.
• Eggplant –such a versatile vegetable that can be baked, stir fried, grilled or used as a dip. When choosing eggplant, make sure it's firm with a green stalk and shiny skin.
• Lemons and limes – sometimes a dash of lemon or lime juice is all that’s needed to boost the flavour of a dish. We love this tangy couscous recipe using lemons and broccolini . If you have more fresh lemons and limes than you can use, it’s possible to save it for later by squeezing the juice into ice cube trays. These can be frozen and defrosted as needed.
• Apples – they are a handy and healthy snack on their own, but why not try baking them with a sprinkle of cinnamon until soft for a warm winter treat? Adding sliced apple to salads and coleslaw is a great addition to give them extra zing.
• Pears – chopped over cereal or in porridge is a delicious and healthy way to add natural sweetness.