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Seasonal fruit and veg



Autumn is my second favourite season and I believe is the best time to visit London: the colours of the trees turning yellow and red make this city so romantic and magical!

Time to say goodbye to summery cucumbers and tomatoes, let's make room in our kitchen for the amazing range of autumnal fruits and veggies.

Nowadays you can find whatever you fancy in the supermarket and most foods are available year round but I strongly believe that we should boycott what is not seasonal for many reasons: it has been imported from far away which is highly polluting hence not environment friendly. It also means that it wasn't picked when almost ripe, therefore it can't taste good and it definitely can't be healthy as nutrient content changes in foods depending on which seasons they were produced in. Also, in order to preserve foods that are out of season, modern agriculture produces items often covered in pesticides, waxes, and preservatives in order to maintain their fresh appearance. Who wants to put that in their bodies?

Why people keep eating out of season strawberries and tomatoes if now nature gives us the opportunity to variate our diet and the chance to be more creative in the kitchen?

What is now growing naturally is usually better quality,cheaper and locally sourced.

What is out of season is always pale, tasteless and expensive.

Our body and mind needs the best possible fuel to be healthy and according to scientists, researchers, and natural health experts, it is important to eat with the cycles of nature and only consume food that was grown at the time you are eating it. We should embrace the natural diversity that the season changes is offering us rather than going against it.

Acorn squashes

That's why I made a list of autumnal fruits and veggies available NOW:


Apples:

Boring? Never! Of course it is delicious raw but it is a super versatile fruit.

You can make amazing desserts and cakes with it but if you don't have time, I have the most yummy and super quick snack for a sweet tooth like me:

Bake it in the oven (or microwave it for 4-5 minutes) and then add cinnamon, honey and your favourite nut butter!

This is a link to one of my favourite recipes:

https://www.thegarlicdiaries.com/roasted-apples-with-cinnamon-peanut-butter-sauce/




Squashes and pumpkins:

Rich in vitamin A and high in antioxidants to boots your immunity, it is not only for Halloween lovers.

These two are delightful in so many different ways, just cut into chunks and bake or roast (30-40 minutes) or boil (15-20 minutes). Use them to make soups, add to stews or mash as a side dish.

Try squash spaghetti for an alternative to pasta or you can use them in dessert recipes such as sweet pies.

One of my signature recipes is the pumpkin lasagna and I will make a whole post about it very soon!





Brussels sprouts:

The king of British autumnal veggies: apart from roasted, which is a classic, did you know you could eat them raw?

I found it out while watching the Netflix series "Queer eye": Antony, the chef of the group, was teaching one of the participants a quick recipe with thinly chopped Brussels sprouts and I wanted to try it straight away. I must admit I was a bit suspicious but it actually tastes heaven!

I found a similar recipe on Riverford's website: https://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/view/recipe/shredded-brussels-sprouts-salad


Cabbages and cauliflowers:

Packed with nutrients, they are considered a super foods and they also are extremely affordable.

In the Romanian tradition are often pickled and ate as a side with soups and rich second dishes.

They are easy and quick to cook: it takes only from 8 to 10 minutes to steam them and they are also very nice roasted. You can also make an excellent pasta sauce with them adding black olives, capers, anchovies and parsley.

My dad made me fall in love with raw cauliflower florets-salad made with a dressing of new olive oil, vinegar and pepper as a light side to a meat main.

Black cabbage is typical of Tuscany and we usually have it sautéed with cannellini beans and "bruschetta" (toast rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt).


Roasted cauliflower

Carrots:

That's a easy one... who doesn't like carrots?!

In autumn they are great in soups, roasted and as a base for the main Italian pasta sauces.


Carrot soup

Celery:

It is a negative calorie food, that means hat you will burn more calories digesting celery than it contains which is an alley if you are trying to lose weight. Again, it is a great ingredient for soups and pasta sauces (check my ragu' recipe in the food section of the blog)


Kale:

Source of fibres, vitamin C and iron, it is usually added into smoothies in the summer but you can also use it in the cold months added to stir fries and it is exquisite sautéed on its own with garlic,olive oil and chili for a rustic, low calorie side dish.




Leeks:

I absolutely love them: low in calories, they are a good source of manganese, which may help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and promote thyroid health. They are such a versatile ingredients and I personally add them everywhere: soups, omelettes, stir fries, pasta sauces and many more!


Parsnips:

Another quintessentially British veggie member of the carrot family. It has the same shape but it is creamy white rather than orange and it has a delicate taste.

I didn't even know what was it before moving in London but it has grown on me and I use it often in my recipes.

It is one the main ingredients for a good Sunday roast side and it is really nice in stews too.


Pears:

In Italy we like eating them raw with Pecorino cheese at the end of the meal as a dessert (a fun Tuscan motto says: "al contadino non far saper quanto e' buono il cacio con le pere" that literally means : "don't let the farmer know how good is cheese with pears").

I recently found online a nice recipe for a winter salad that I can't wait to try it;

https://www.yeprecipes.com/img-pear-and-baby-spinach-salad-with-walnuts-and-blue-cheese-815.htm

Pears are also amazing in tarts and cakes combined with nuts and chocolate!



Potatoes:

Yes, potatoes are starchy veggies so they count as carbs BUT a medium size one has only around 110 calories! It has also early half your daily value of vitamin C, more potassium than a banana and it's a good source of vitamin B6, fibres, magnesium and antioxidants. More excuses to use it weekly?

It makes soups creamy and rich, roasted or mashed is the perfect side for any kind of fish and meat! Obviously the amount of calories changes drastically if you eat it fried or with heavy dressings...which is fine every now and then as a treat.

Crisps don't count! There is nothing left of potatoes there!

I noticed at work an awful English habit to eat crisps and sandwich at lunch and it is one of the most unhealthy things you could do. You'll end up hungry within an hour because they are calorie dense but no filling (they don't have fibres but they are high in saturated fats and salt) without other significant nutritional value. Basically you are only eating high palatable rubbish. I know they taste good and I sometimes eat them too as snacks but under no circumstances they will be in my lunch box.


Moussaka

Spinach:

I know, they are terribly annoying to clean and no matter how much you of fresh ones you buy, they will reduce into a tiny ball once cooked but they are good for you.

The solution is to find a good quality frozen that you can use quickly.

I use them literally everywhere as ingredients for omelettes, as filling for cannelloni, steamed, as a pasta sauce with double cream, sautéed with garlic, in my winter salads, the variety is virtually endless!


Pomegranate:

My absolute favourite autumn fruit! And by far the most beautiful one. When opened it looks like a jewel!

I couldn't be more enthusiastic about it because it is so nice and it has so many benefits that I am currently eating one a day now that they are in season.

The fresh squeezed juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. It also has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in pomegranate can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation.

My advice is to buy them whole ( I managed to find 3 for 1 pound this week and I am so chuffed) in Indian or Turkish corner stores as they are much better quality compared to the packed ones you find in supermarkets. You can see the difference immediately: when the fruit is whole and you open it the seeds are shiny and ruby red and they taste tangy but sweet, while the ones packed in the little plastic pots are pale and they don't have much flavour.

If you don't know how to cut it, here there is a useful link: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-remove-pomegranate-seeds


How can you add it pomegranate seeds in your meals?

Toss them into a green or fruit salad, sprinkle some onto your yogurt or oatmeal, add them to smoothies or juices, use as a tangy garnish on avocado toast or garnish roasted or grilled meat dishes with them!




Chestnuts:

They are not a typical British fruit but they are imported from other countries. I tried to find some Italian ones called "marroni" as I love them roasted and sprinkled with red wine and salt! Don't bother buying the Chinese ones you can find in supermarkets: they don't even deserve to be called chestnuts.


Persimmon fruit:

Again, not a British fruit but it is available now in the stores because it is in season in the south east European countries. In my parent's garden in Italy I have got two huge trees and I was so excited when November came to climb them and pick the fruits on my own. They are as sweet as honey when properly ripe, but in London I couldn't find good quality ones so far. They are picked when they are still hard and therefore they don't taste the same. When soft and ripe they are a bit messy to eat, but you can peel the skin off and use a spoon to avoid to get dirty.


Freshly picked Italian persimmons and pomegranate

What is your favourite season and your favourite fruit or veggie?