Eat the Year: Autumn 03/14

March is one of my favourite times of the year in Melbourne, not just because I can finally stop melting in the summer heat in a most ungracious fashion, but also because those first few crisp days give us a taste of the winter soon to come. Ahh winter! When eating is actually necessary FOR WARMTH. You can hunker down in front of the telly with a warm bowl of porridge or a buttery baked potato without being totally judged by those around you for being an utter pig, and really, what could be better than that?

So in the spirit of respecting the harvest, saying farewell to summer and snuggling up with the autumn chill, here are a few foodie suggestions to get you in the mood for some serious eating.

ALMONDS
March heralds the arrival of the first locally grown nuts in Victoria, and whether you like ’em raw and healthful or ground up and baked into the most decadent dessert of all time, nuts are one thing that you simply can’t go without this autumn. Almonds make a fantastic, nutritious and high energy snack, and have so many uses that picking just two recipes from my epic collection has been almost impossible. But here are the winners. Enjoy.

Gluten-free apple and almond cake
Warm Kale Salad with bacon, dates, almonds, crispy shallots and parmesan

SHALLOTS
I love shallots, partly because they make me feel all fancy and French, but mainly because their garlicky, oniony goodness is so much more interesting and complex than the taste of the humble onion. Try some of these ace shallot recipes, or substitute onions for shallots in any of your favourite recipes for a softer and more delicate flavour.

Caramelized shallot soup
Shallot tarte tatin with goat’s cheese

SILVERBEET
I had never tasted silverbeet (also known as chard) before I moved to Italy about ten years ago, and I’m not sure why it’s not used more in colder parts of the world. It grows in cool climates brilliantly, and is so hardy that even the most dedicated plant-assassin would have a difficult time killing it. It’s super-nutritious, packed with vitamins A, K and C and full of minerals and dietary fibre.

So what’s the downside? Well, like most leafy green vegetables, it can get a bad rap, especially when given to children or placed in the hands of an incompetent chef who decides to boil the living daylights out of it.

So here are a few delicate and tast-o-licious recipes to make good use of the most easygoing of our plant friends.

Ribollita
Moroccan-spiced silverbeet

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