I’m a big fan of summer, but there are some compensations for cooler temperatures, shorter days, and darker nights: autumn eats. Famously defined by Keats as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, autumn is also very much the foodie’s friend. Salads and strawberries have their time and place, of course. But there is nothing quite like autumn eating. Slow-cooked soups, casseroles, braises and bakes are the ideal way to warm both body and soul as the mercury drops. The advent of autumn also brings with it seasonal fruits such as apples, pears and plums – perfect for indulgent desserts! So pack away your barbecues and root out your roasting trays. Then read on to discover some of my favourite tried-and-tested autumn recipes:
I confess, I am a sucker for soup all year round, but I think it really comes into its own in autumn. Roasted pumpkin is my go-to option at this time of year. Is there a more autumnal vegetable? For many people pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween. But if all you do is hollow them out, you’re missing all the best bits! With their glorious orange hue, pumpkins provide a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. And in addition to being delicious, they’re also a great source of potassium, fibre and vitamins. No autumn recipe collection would be complete without pumpkin soup, and there are countless variations available. This version includes half-melted cheese (Gruyère or Fontina are both fabulous). Serve with croutons and some crème fraiche, if liked. And plenty of warm, crusty bread, of course!
One of the advantages of autumn cooking is that by and large, it’s fairly easy. Forget fiddly, fussy recipes. The best autumn fare should be hale, hearty, and a cinch to serve up. One-pot suppers are usually a fail-safe option, with the added bonus of next-to-nothing to wash up! I find myself partial to pork at this time of year, as it combines so beautifully with sweet autumnal root vegetables. Do try this super-simple pork and pear roast. I promise that the moreish maple syrup glaze is a genius finishing touch. Serve with lightly steamed green vegetables for a dash of extra colour.
If you’re looking for autumn recipe ideas with a difference, how about a healthy venison stew? Beef, pork or chicken are more familiar meat options for most and I would probably choose beef or pork. But venison is leaner than beef, so a sensible choice is you’re looking for a lower-fat, yet still tasty, option. This easy casserole contains lots of flavoursome vegetables, to help you on your way to your recommended five-a-day. Add a good slug of full-bodied red wine, for some extra oomph. This recipe serves ten, so it’s brilliant for a dinner party, or an alternative to a traditional Sunday roast. Or you could simply treat it as a batch-cook, and freeze some portions for busy days.
If you’re a committed vegan, or are simply looking to eat less meat, there’s no need to miss out on delicious seasonal fare. There are thousands of vegan autumn recipes to experiment with. This sweet potato recipe, courtesy of the Minimalist Baker, is one of my favourites. Even committed carnivores won’t lament the absence of meat, I promise. This is a 30-minute lunch or dinner that manages to be satisfying, savoury and sweet. The textures and colours are perfect for autumn. Filling and comforting, it’s a regular chez nous as the evenings draw in.
Fish fans, don’t despair! Seafood can be just as satisfying in autumn, if you choose your recipes carefully. I can happily eat a classic fish pie all year long. However, if you’re looking specifically for an autumn fish recipe, this one from Food & Wine is hard to beat. While summer evokes lighter options such as salmon and scallops, autumn calls for something more substantial. Halibut is a versatile, meaty white fish that works surprisingly well with butternut squash, parsnip and turnip. I enjoy this with oven-baked potatoes or, if we’re feeling especially decadent, gratin dauphinoise.
We love dessert whatever the season. That said, there’s something about the advent of autumn that makes the prospect of pudding even more attractive. If you’re trying to keep an eye on the calories, without compromising on taste, we have just the autumn recipe for you. BBC Food’s Healthy Plum Crumble advocates cooking the topping and filling separately, in order to reduce the amount of fat. Cinnamon and star anise add some va-va-voom to the plum filling. No custard required! Best of all, the topping can be made in advance and reheated in the oven before serving. The plums take mere minutes to prepare, so this is a winner if you’re short on time or need a quick dinner party dessert.
If you were searching for interesting autumn recipes, a cocktail might not have been top of mind. However, I am happy to indulge in a warm cocktail or two during the colder months. This Caramel Apple Cider concoction is ideal if you’re hosting a Halloween or Bonfire night party. I realise you might be more used to making stews and casseroles in your slow cooker. But trust me, it’s an excellent and effortless way to mull a hot beverage too. Just remember to add lots of apple slices for extra flavour and garnish. The added bonus? Thanks to the cloves, caramel syrup and cinnamon, your house will smell divine. Bon appetit – and bottoms up!