Celebrate delicious autumn produce with inspirational ingredient pairings and recipe ideas from 26 Grains author, Alex Hely-Hutchinson.
As the days become shorter and the evenings become cooler, the prospect of the end of summer is softened by the arrival of autumnal foods. Autumn provides hearty and comforting foods and I want to share a combination of my favourites with some of the grains they can be cooked with:
Blackberries and Oats
You have to be quick with blackberries, they’re only in season for a short time. The trick is to grab as many as you can and figure out the recipes for them later. A very popular dish at 26 Grains, also in my new cookbook, is the Blackberry and Bay Porridge. Combining maple-sweetened blackberry compote with the deep flavour of the bay leaves creates a warming dish; exactly what you would hope a bowl of porridge to be. We also add cacao powder to the oats, its natural bitterness balances the sweetness of the compote. Providing they don’t get on your clothes, blackberries are a wonderful addition to the kitchen.
Mushrooms and Short Grain Rice
Autumn is the perfect time for mushrooms. As the climate grows muggy and cool, we start to see a variety of mushrooms bloom. Mushrooms are rich and satisfying without being overwhelming. I often crave them when I’m tired and like to cook them with rice into a mushroom risotto or sticky black rice recipe, delicious and warming.
Pears and Barley
Pears are subtly sweet and can be used in sweet or savoury dishes. For breakfast, salted pear compote on top of soaked barley flake porridge can be the perfect start to the day. The barley slightly ferments as it soaks, adding almost a slight acidity to compliment the pear compote. For lunch, I use the pear’s delicate flavour and soft texture to compliment the pickled beetroot and crunchy cucumber in my autumn salad.
Plums and Quinoa
Plums, especially cooked plums, are delicious; they are sweet and soft and perfect for compotes or puddings. Beyond a plum’s obvious charm of flavour and colour, plums tap into childhood memories of my mum’s cooking. My Quinoa, Plum and Cardamom Frangipane Pudding (get the recipe here!) featured currently in Foyle’s cafe was inspired by my mum’s plum tart recipe. It is amazing to see others enjoying my version of her creation.
Rainbow Chard and Buckwheat
Rainbow chard is as striking as it is delicious. Through late summer and autumn, hot pink stems start to poke through the ground. Living up to its name, rainbow chard transforms my garden as well as my dishes. I have used rainbow chard in a dish to accompany freshwater trout, but most notably as the main element of my hearty autumn salad. I top my autumn salad with lightly toasted buckwheat groats to give that nutty crunch to my crispy salad.
Autumn is incredible; the colours and smells and foods are intoxicating. So before giving in to winter spices and curling up by the fire, experiment with these autumnal foods that could make autumn your new favourite season.