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Food

In season: what to cook and eat in October

by Abigail Spooner
In season: what to cook and eat in October
Image: Martin Poole

As the nights draw in, comfort food calls and seasonal British fruit and veg lends itself to hearty stews, Sunday roasts, soups and crumbles. Read our round-up of October’s top ingredients and recipes to inspire you this autumn.

Pumpkin

Pumpkins take the limelight in October due to their traditional association with Halloween, but there’s more to them than carving ghoulish faces. One of many varieties of winter squash, it’s vivid orange colour and deliciously sweet flesh makes it a versatile ingredient for soups, risottos and pies. Don’t discard the seeds; clean them well, toss with oil, seasoning and spices, and roast until golden.

Image: Toby Scott
Image: Toby Scott

Try it

Pumpkin soup

Blitz roasted pumpkin flesh into a velvety soup with crispy bacon crumbs and serve in squash 'cauldrons'.

Kale

This cabbage-like brassica thrives during the colder months and is known for its good-for-you health benefits and superfood status. Stir through mash to make colcannon, toss through pasta, or go green at breakfast by blending a handful into your morning smoothie. It’s best steamed or briefly boiled to preserve the nutrients, but it’s also delicious roasted until crispy.

Image: Martin Poole
Image: Martin Poole

Try it

Autumn harvest rice

This speedy rice bowl is packed with seasonal ingredients and makes a nourishing lunch or lighter supper. Crumble over goats’ cheese or feta, if you like.

Venison

Celebrate game season with British venison. Low in fat but rich in flavour due to the deer’s natural diet, venison pairs well with red wine, hearty sauces and fruit. Try it in a puff-pastry-topped pie, as sausages for a twist on your usual bangers and mash, or braised in a casserole.

Image: Martin Poole
Image: Martin Poole

Try it

Venison steak Diane with truffle fries

Give steak and chips extra indulgence with meaty venison steaks, a creamy porcini mushroom sauce and Parmesan truffle fries.

Pears

This humble fruit comes in a range of tastes and textures and their sweetness tends to be determined by how ripe they are. It’s worth waiting until a pear reaches peak ripeness if enjoying raw, but slightly underripe pears work well poached or roasted. While they lend themselves to cakes, crumbles and desserts, pears also work well with salty flavours, such as blue cheese and nuts.

Image: Martin Poole
Image: Martin Poole

Try it

Pear tarte tatin

Swap the more traditional apples for pears in this classic French dessert. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche to cut through the sweet, caramelised juices.

Mushrooms

From portobello to porcini, mushrooms come in all shapes, sizes and earthy flavours. Their texture means they often take the place of meat as a plant-based alternative in classic recipes such as ragus and stroganoffs. Generally, the darker the mushroom, the more the umami, meaty flavour. Dried mushrooms are a great store-cupboard staple too; soak in boiling water to rehydrate them and stir through risottos and pasta for a more intense flavour than fresh mushrooms.

Image: Ant Duncan
Image: Ant Duncan

Try it

Mushroom bourguignon

Swap beef for mixed mushrooms in this warming red wine stew. Serve with mash and greens for a seasonal family dinner.

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