BBC Good Food Magazine
End-of-season figs, plums and cavolo nero shine in these recipes from Esther Clark, plus learn how to grow your own with tips from Emma Crawforth of BBC Gardeners’ World
Cook with the best of what autumn has to offer
Figs are at their best at the end of summer, when they’re plump, slightly squishy and hanging loosely from the tree. The flesh is sweet, sticky and delicious in all types of dishes. Poach them in masala with a sabayon cream, roast and churn pieces through ice cream or pair with salty cured meats and cheeses. I also love figs with burrata piled on toast with along with ribbons of prosciutto (p106). If you cant get burrata, a good-quality mozzarella or fontina cheese will do the trick.
In the UK, plums are in season from May to October, but by the end of the warmer months, they’re ready to be baked into one of my favourite treats of all time: ricotta cake (p108). Sharp plums and a buttery ricotta sponge combine to make a delicate pudding. Roast a double batch of plums as described in step 1 of the recipe, then enjoy the leftovers with granola or porridge. They freeze well, too, for when the fruit trees are bare.
One of the unsung heroes of the vegetable patch is cavolo nero, otherwise known as ‘Italian kale’, a dark green leafy vegetable that’s rich in iron with a deep, mature cabbage-like flavour. It can be fried in olive oil with garlic and chilli, then tossed through pasta, like many other greens. Its most-famous use is in ribollita, a bread, tomato and kale stew from Tuscany (try my take on the traditional recipe on page 106). It’s light yet rich and comforting, ideal for September, when we begin the transition from summer to autumn. As well as being easy to make, the ingredients are relatively inexpensive and the perfect way to use up a glut of cavolo nero if you grow your own.