On my other blog (The Tasty Herbalist) I talk about seasonal transitions and this seems equally relevant to here. The bounty of late summer has well and truly made way for the sparsity of autumn and any heat from the sun has long faded. Traditional autumn fare reflects this change in the seasons where food is now about providing warmth and nourishment (I like to think of autumn and winter as semi hibernation). The focus should be on starchy root vegetables, robust greens, slow cooking, dried and preserved foods and fat. This is certainly what I want when the light levels dip and the temperatures drop. I want steamed puddings, roasted vegetables, gravy, toasted nuts and seeds, dumplings and mashed potatoes. I want shepherds pie and stews. I want to stuff vegetables with other vegetables. I want to eat toasted crumpets and fruit cake and wash it all down with my be-teacosied teapot.
I must admit I have gone a bit crazed with the vegetable buying and it’s like a pagan harvest festival has exploded in my house. No bad thing. It can feel like autumn and winter is a sea of brown, like the colour has been drained out the landscape but it is also the time of year of bright green vegetables and the vibrant oranges of the squashes.
Autumnal food gets a bad rap, a lesser cousin to the more vibrant summer foods but really, what’s not to like about a warming shepherds pie with the multitude of variations available. Should it be bean, lentil, nut or root vegetable based? Will I top it with potatoes, sweet potatoes, polenta or a mix of root vegetables? Do I want it gravy-like or in a tomato base. So many options.
So lets sing the praises for those gnarly roots and sturdy greens, and pass the gravy.