It is the season in which the days get shorter and nights get longer. Sydney life moves from celebrating our beaches to curling up with feel-good-food indoors.
Get the most out of what’s in season with stone fruits, figs, pears, pomegranates, pistachios, green beans, kipfler and sweet potatoes.
Unlike summer where we spend time at the water celebrating the warmth and sun with light and refreshing food, autumn is a time where we create our own warmth through food that gets a little richer but continues to have that hint of the lingering sun of summer.
Here are a few recipes to inspire you for the following months.
Fig, Ricotta and Walnut Salad
You can always tell when autumn is around the corner because you start to see figs in your local grocer. I love the delicateness of their sweet jewelled inside when you rip them open.
As much as I love figs I am quite fussy when it comes to eating them. Unless bought and eaten on the same day fresh figs don’t seem to taste as perfect.
This salad however reinvented my fussiness for figs. The smooth creaminess of ricotta, crunch of roasted walnuts and sweetness of the figs dressed in a red wine vinaigrette is a perfect salad for autumn.
4 large ripe figs
200g fresh ricotta cheese
150g spinach leaves
150g rocket leaves
1 bunch basil
Red wine Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place walnuts on a dry roasting tray and toast in oven for 10-15 minutes until warm.
Break up the ricotta with a fork, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Roughly tear the basil leaves and toss with the spinach and rocket in a bowl. Cut the figs into quarters and arrange along with the warm nuts on the green leaves. Lastly carefully place small spoonfulls of the ricotta on top.
For the red wine vinaigrette;
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, paprika powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the oils into a pouring jug and while whisking with one hand slowly pour the oil into the vinegar with the other hand until the two liquids emulsify.
Dress the salad right before serving.
Serves up to 5
Smoked Trout Linguini with Asparagus and Pistachio and Rocket Pesto
This pasta is easy to make while making a stylish impression.
To me the combination of pink smoked trout flecked through hues of the light to dark greens of the pistachio pesto is reminiscent of the leaves in autumn starting to change colour from greens through to reds.
250g good quality Linguini
225g smoked trout fillets
1 bunch green asparagus
150g Pistachio and Rocket Pesto
Pistachio and Rocket Pesto
2 garlic cloves
80g shelled un-salted Pistachios
40g grated Parmesan
250ml olive oil
Make the Pesto first. Mince the garlic. Put the nuts in a blender or food processor and pulse until coarse. Add the rocket and continue to pulse until a crumbly paste forms.
Scrape out into a bowl and stir in the garlic paste, Parmesan and oil.
Season to taste. You may not need any pepper due to the rocket. When using, it is ideal to let the pesto come to room temperature.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
(To store put into a container and cover with a thin layer of oil and refrigerate. Will keep up to 2 weeks.)
Trim the asparagus ends. I do this by simply breaking the ends off with my hands. I find that where it breaks off naturally will be where the woody end is.
Cut into 1inch stems keeping all of the top spears together. Blanch the stalks in salted water and keep aside. Then continue by blanching the spear tops and keeping aside.
Blanching is simple: simply bring salted water to the boil. Add your asparagus and wait for the water to come back to the boil. When the water is boiling take them out and refresh in iced water. This will ensure that you have bright green asparagus for your pasta that is not over cooked. You can use this technique for any green vegetable.
Lastly cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Use the packet instructions as a guideline to how long you should cook the pasta for, but set a timer for 1-2 minutes under the suggested time. You will want to check your pasta when the timer goes off to see if it is al dente.
Drain and tip back into the same pan you cooked it in. Toss the pesto, asparagus and flaked trout through the pasta and serve.
The amount of pesto is a guideline for this recipe. You can use as little or as much as you like (the recipe above is for 1 1/2 cups of pesto!).
Pomegranate, Chocolate and Turkish delight Truffles
These gorgeous balls of dark chocolate speckled with small pink gems of Turkish delight, and the tangy sharp finish of pomegranates are the perfect way to finish a meal, or just enjoyed with coffee.
Perfection in a ball, what more can one want.
350g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
250ml double cream (thickened cream)
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
50g Turkish delight, chopped into small cubes
50g cocoa powder
Bring the double cream to the boil and add 250g of the dark chocolate. Turn down the heat and stir until the cream and chocolate melt completely into each other. Take off the heat.
Stir in the pomegranate molasses and Turkish delight. Pour into a container and allow to cool in the fridge, for up to an hour.
When the mix is firm, with a teaspoon scoop spoonfuls of the mix and form into round balls with your hands. Place truffles in the freezer to set further.
Meanwhile put the cocoa powder on a small tray with a rim, or a bowl with a semi flat base and set aside. Place the remaining 100g of chocolate in a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. When chocolate is melted take off the heat, and with the truffle resting on a fork start to dip into the chocolate. Roll the truffles in the cocoa powder.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge until required.
Makes approximately 25 truffles.
*Pomegranate molasses is used primarily in Mediterranean cooking. It is also called pomegranate syrup. Pomegranate molasses is thick, dark and has a tangy yet sweet taste. It is available from good delicatessens.