Feast on au­tum­nal delights.

As the leaves be­gin to change colour, it is time to look for­ward to all the sea­sonal pro­duce that au­tumn brings

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - MATT PRE­STON

SUM­MER is slip­ping out the back door with its bas­kets of stone fruit and berries. Now we are an­tic­i­pat­ing the ar­rival of au­tumn with all that sea­sonal bounty. Here’s what I’m look­ing for­ward to most.

BEET­ROOT

To my mind, there are two ways to eat beet­root. The first is wrapped in foil and slow-roasted. This way the skin rubs off eas­ily. Per­haps add a splash of bal­samic or thyme to each foil pack­age be­fore cook­ing to en­hance the flavour. This is de­li­cious, still with some oven-warmth when tossed with green lentils, dill, and a saf­fron-yo­ghurt dress­ing.

The sec­ond way is raw, cut into match­sticks. Make a slaw with sim­i­larly cut car­rots, cur­rants and a dress­ing of miso and re­duced orange juice with Ja­panese pick­led gin­ger, or one made from pomegranate juice re­duced to a syrup and then hit with a lit­tle lemon juice. Add pis­ta­chios for crunch and pomegranate gems for pops of flavour.

BROC­COLI

The green hue of wa­ter af­ter boil­ing broc­coli should give you a clue that it’s not the best way to cook it. In­stead, steam it or split heads in half, brush with oil and cook slowly on the bar­be­cue. It is won­der­ful topped with sun­flower seeds, sweet vine­gar and ba­con or feta.

You can also try it with a ver­sion of Hetty Mckin­non’s pars­ley, gar­lic, al­mond, olive oil and gruyere pesto. In both cases, adding eggs makes it a full meal. Or just mi­crowave broc­coli slightly to soften and add to mac ’n’ cheese to fin­ish cook­ing while the mac bakes.

BRUS­SELS SPROUTS

Years of grey, over­boiled Brus­sels sprouts have soured many peo­ple’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion of th­ese dolls house “cab­bages”. Soft­en­ing them in the mi­crowave and then roast­ing in a hot oven is a quick way to make them de­li­cious. Sprouts love nuts, so try toss­ing with roasted chest­nuts.

They are also great done the Karen Mar­tini way – roasted, driz­zled with honey and dukkah and served on hum­mus, ei­ther as a light main or as a side with lamb chops.

CAB­BAGE

An­other ma­ligned vegetable, th­ese days cab­bage is often pick­led into sauer­kraut, rel­e­gated to a slaw or steamed into a dull but vir­tu­ous side dish. But it can also be the hero. The Ital­ians like to cook it very slowly in its own ren­dered juices. They call this method “smoth­ered”.

I make a sim­i­lar dish, which is my ver­sion of one of Poland’s great meals, bi­gos. Finely shred a white cab­bage and cook it with onion and a lit­tle chopped gar­lic in the fat ren­dered from brown­ing off half a dozen pork sausages and 300g cubed, smoked ba­con. When the cab­bage has soft­ened, stir in those sausages, the ba­con, a splash of cider vine­gar, a few car­away seeds and a cou­ple of ju­niper berries. Cook slowly in a low oven for an hour or more. If you like sauer­kraut, stir in a cup of drained, rinsed and dried sauer­kraut in­stead of the vine­gar.

CAR­ROTS

Is any vegetable more ver­sa­tile? Car­rots can be eaten raw, pick­led, roasted, steamed or slowly cooked in a pan with a lit­tle wa­ter and but­ter for so long they al­most break down. Serve th­ese with parme­san and pars­ley, or with tea- or mus­cat-soaked sul­tanas, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, crushed co­rian­der seeds and a dol­lop of creme fraiche.

CAU­LI­FLOWER

This fam­ily favourite is al­ways wel­come at my ta­ble whether raw, pick­led in thin slices, grilled as steaks, or mi­crowaved whole and then roasted.

But you can also go a more deca­dent route. Crumb flat chunks of cau­li­flower, fry and serve with a blue cheese, sour cream and vine­gar dip­ping sauce.

FEN­NEL

This is an­other adapt­able vegetable. Try it sliced very thinly and tossed with white an­chovies, mint and a sprin­kling of al­mond mi­gas – bread­crumbs fried with toasted chopped al­monds, crushed gar­lic, some­thing salty and porky (such as prosci­utto, ser­rano ham or crum­bled chorizo) and a few cumin seeds.

Roast­ing thick slices of fen­nel in­ten­si­fies the flavour and makes its flesh creamy-soft to serve with your next pork roast, or as the base for a tray bake with capers, olives, toma­toes and fil­lets of firm-fleshed white fish.

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