Celebrate autumn’s crisp mornings and bounty of seasonal produce.
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22 Mar 2021 - 12:47 PM  UPDATED 22 Mar 2021 - 12:47 PM

Fruit

1. Quince 

These "golden apples" of Greek Mythology are one of the earliest known fruits. When they're at their peak in autumn, why not serve them for dessert as a quince, hazelnut and oat crumble? Or for a main as lamb, quince and saffron tagine? Or a side as quince chutney? Or even for the first meal of the day, as semolina breakfast with poached quinces?

Semolina breakfast with poached quinces

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2. Grapes 

If you can resist eating them all straight from the vine before you even get home from the store or market, try pickling your grapes and combining them with spiced roast cauliflower, sauteeing them and adding them to a salad with kale and edamame, creating an autumnal salad with fresh grapes buckwheat, hazelnuts and chicken, studding the top of a focaccia with them, or making farinata (an Italian chickpea pancake) topped with roasted grapes and ricotta

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3. Figs

Fun fact: a fig is not actually a fruit, it's a flower. Fruit or flower, they're in season in autumn and bursting with sweet figgy flesh. This means it's the perfect time to top a pizza with figs, gorgonzola, pickled onions and vincotto; throw together a sweet and salty salad with prosciutto, walnuts, blue cheese; make cute little tartlets topped with cream cheese, thyme and sliced figs; or, whip up this simple and elegant dessert by Melbourne chef Matt Wilkinson of torn figs with mascarpone and blue cheese cream.

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4. Apples

Farmers markets are filled with overflowing crates of apples in autumn, from the sour Granny Smith to the sweet and tangy Pink Lady. For apple-filled fun, start the day with French toast with cinnamon apples. For lunch or a light dinner, whip up a fresh and filling hot-smoked salmon, roasted garlic & apple salad. For something sweet, try spiced Granny Smith, yoghurt and brown sugar cake or caramelised Fuji and Calvados ice-cream.

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5. Plums  

Hold onto the last vestiges of summer stonefruit with plums. From magenta to deep purple, its colour is pure autumn. You might want to bake them in red wine with some spices, or poach them in prosecco and serve them with chocolate sponge and plum cream, or even braise a beef cheek and with rosemary, fennel, orange and plums - the sweet and tart plums are a perfect match for the rich, succulent beef. 

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6. Persimmons

One of the most walked-past fruits at the grocer, persimmons are actually surprisingly versatile - they can be used in sweet and savoury cooking much the same as pumpkin or apricot. Try spiced persimmon jam, persimmon and walnut rice puddinglime and basil cream with persimmon and black pepper compote, or persimmon and coconut muffins.  

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7. Nashi

Cousin of the apple and pear, nashi is used extensively in Asian cuisine, particularly Chinese, Korean and Japanese cuisine. It's similarity in flavour and texture to its cousins, means it's extremely versatile - it can be chopped into matchsticks for a muesli topping, thinly sliced for a salad to accompany chilli mud crab, grated or julienned and served as a slaw with pork ribs, or roasted and served with fennel and crispy polenta. 

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8. Avocado 

(Yes, it's a fruit.) Although you can get imported avos year-round, taste local avos at their creamiest in autumn. Aside from go-to classics like guac or smashed avo on toast, try barbecuing avocado and serving it with a herb labneh salad, adding it to a spicy-sweet potato chip sammie or serving it in pink grapefruit, shaved fennel and avocado salad.

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Vegetables

9. Eggplant

The other "meat for vegetarians". You could layer it for smoky, bitter and sweet eggplant lasagne, roll it up for walnut-stuffed eggplant rolls, cook it in a curry with two different types of mustard in an eggplant and mustard curry or, fry it in oil and spiced red vinegar until it's crispy

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10. Cauliflower

The "IT" vegetable of the late 2010s, cauliflower is used in everything from creams to steaks to rice. Autumn is when it comes into its prime, meaning it's time to get experimental - here's just a few suggestions: a creamy cauliflower soup with pecan dukkah; George Calombaris' garden peas, cauliflower, almonds, lemon; Food Safari's crunchy and wholesome cauliflower and cranberry salad; a wholemeal linguine with cauliflower, mushroom and pine nuts; and an easy and aromatic fried cauliflower with tarator.

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11. Pumpkin

To avoid "pumpkin soup fatigue" during autumn and winter, here's some other delicious ways to serve this seasonal classic: spice-roasted butternut pumpkin with capered yoghurtbaked pumpkin gnocchispiced pumpkin doughnuts, and unique pumpkin custard with yoghurt and pepitas.

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12. Wild mushrooms

During autumn, many wild and wonderful varieties of mushrooms become available, in particular, pine mushrooms, saffron milk caps and slippery Jacks. Make this most of these beauties with recipes like gnocchi in wild mushroom saucewild mushroom risotto with egg and black trufflewild mushroom wontons with soy dipping saucebraised rabbit with wild mushrooms and prunes and pickled pine mushroom and fried shiitake salad.

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13. Beetroot

Celebrate sweet and earthy autumnal beetroot with a juicy meatless beetroot burger, some rich beetroot chocolate brownies, a vibrant roast beetroot salad, or crisp little honey balsamic glazed beetroot tarts.  

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14. Daikon

When fresh, this long white Japanese radish is sweet, crunchy and juicy - you can cut chunks off and eat them raw and undressed for an extremely refreshing snack. Daikon works well in dishes both raw and cooked, and when cooked, acts like a "flavour sponge" and becomes soft and juicy. bento classic Daikon and carrot salad. pungent and spicy white radish kimchi, or Korean white radish salad, or the Japanese home-style classic, simmered Japanese yellowtail and daikon

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15. Chestnuts

Sweet or savoury, chestnuts add a nutty meatiness to dishes, and are used in many different ways around the world: in Italy, they make chestnut pastries with vino cotto (sabadoni); in Portugal, chicken thighs with pears, chestnuts and port; in England, pork, chestnut and mushroom terrine; and here in Australia, roasted chestnut and fennel soup

Autumnal eating
Mushroom and hazelnut tarts

In my opinion, there’s no better way to eat mushrooms than like this. 

Kangaroo pizza with beetroot, feta and rocket

This vibrant topping combo puts a spin on the usual meat lover's. 

Quince and lemon myrtle syrup cake

Dense with lemon myrtle-scented quince and soaked with the poaching syrup, this cake is just as wonderful served warm as a dessert or for afternoon tea. 

Pork sausages roasted with grapes and verjuice

This is a simple sausage dinner made a little more exciting. Grapes are delicious roasted and have a beautiful savoury sweetness to them, while the addition of verjuice creates a lovely sauciness.

Pearled barley, blistered cauliflower and chickpeas

Caramelised roasted vegetables brightened with fresh wilted spinach, combined with hearty pearled barley, makes this comfort in a bowl.