Autumn favourites: Colorful dishes

A very representative survey in my Instagram stories (8 participants), revealed that people would be happy to see posts about other topics than travelling on this blog as well. I did not quite decide all my new post categories yet, but one of them is “food”.

I’m responsible for 90% of the cooking in our home and I love it. To challenge myself and for the sake of a diverse diet I try new recipes almost every week. Autumn is virtually over (omg it’s 4 weeks until Christmas now), but nevertheless I wanted to share my autumn favourites with you. I love this time of the year when leaves are falling and the sun somehow has a more golden light. But then there are grey, rainy days where I need some more colour to enhance my mood.

So I had a look at The Part-Time Vegetarian: Flexible Recipes to Go (Nearly) Meat-Free and found (+ adapted) two recipes that I would like to share with you. They contain very autumnal things, i.e. beetroot, chestnut, and sweet potato. Whereas the least colourful, chestnuts are the one thing among these three that bring back a lot of memories for me.

My mothers family is from Palatinate (that holy land of sunny days and white wine production in the southwest of Germany that I like to talk about), one of the main regions to find chestnut trees north of the alps. So when we were children and visited my grandmother during the autumn school break, we would go for long walks in the forest with her and her sister to collect chestnuts. And every time she would visit us in Berlin during this time of the year, she would bring a bag of them along with her, accompanied by her self-made herbal tea. Most of the time we ate them roasted in the oven for dinner and even our dog loved them (well, he admittedly loved all food).

You can imagine that I was happy to learn that chestnuts are also a common thing in Portugal and they are now one of the main things I ask for when someone from Portugal comes to visit us between September and November.

Purple salad with chestnut and pear

In addition to my beloved chestnuts, this recipe contains beetroot and red cabbage for a purple touch, as well as honey glazed pears.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • a handful chestnuts, roasted and peeled (in the unbelievably sad case of not having chestnuts, use walnuts instead)
  • 3 pears
  • 4 cooked beetroots
  • 50 g Gorgonzola piccante per person (or fried sausages for people that don’t like cheese, I used vegetarian ones, but you could also use pork)
  • 100 g spinach (fresh)
  • a quarter red cabbage
  • green salad (I used the leftover of a salad mix that I still had, hence the carrot in the pictures)
  • butter
  • honey
  • And for the dressing: olive oil, lemon, salt

Preparation:

  • For the salad mix: cut the red cabbage into stripes, the green salad into edible pieces, and mix them together with the spinach. Here I decided to steam the spinach, but I wouldn’t recommend you to do so, the texture of fresh spinach fits better.

  • I next filled the salad mix into our plates to add the other components on top. That’s obviously not a must,
  • Add some butter to a frying pan and fry the quartered and cored pears for 2-3 minutes, then add a generous spoon of honey. Fry 2-3 minutes more and make sure all pieces are covered in butter and honey.

  • Add the pears to your salad mix, remove the honey remains from the pan and add some more butter. Fry the chestnuts for a couple of minutes until they develop a little crust. Add them to the mix as well.
  • Cut the beetroots and the cheese/sausages into pieces and top your salad with it. Then make a quick dressing (juice of half a lemon, half a teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, mix) and sprinkle over the dishes.
  • Bon Appetit!

An orange dish with baked sweet potatoes, Za’atar and chickpeas

Giving a dish a middle eastern twist is never a wrong idea and so this baked sweet potato comes with the herb mix Za’atar. I added some garlic fried chickpeas as a source of protein and a green salad. PS: Yes, that’s my Christmas place-mat in the background. It’s self-made and has a wonderfully lopsided hem.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 4 big sweet potatoes
  • 2 (400 g) cans of chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 red chili
  • crème fraîche/sour cream
  • 100 g almonds (peeled)
  • 1 lettuce (sweet gem)
  • 1 big carrot
  • salt
  • For the Za’atar: roasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, sumac
  • And for the dressing: white vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, olive oil

Preparation:

  • Start by putting the sweet potatoes in the oven. I have a gas oven and just put them in on the highest setting. I would probably choose 200 °C in an electric oven. If you bake the potatoes long enough they will shrink a little bit inside, so you can peel them very easily once you take them out. It took 45 minutes for my sweet potatoes to reach that point.
  • Now, sit on the sofa for 20-30 minutes and be a happy lazy cook.
  • Add some olive oil to a frying pan and fry the drained chickpeas together with the chopped garlic clove. Season with some salt and the lemon juice.
  • Use a food processor (I have one like this one: Hand Blender 3 in 1 600 W 20 Speed, 500ml Food Processor, 800ml Beaker, Egg Whisk, Robust Stainless Steel, Silver / Black (HB-2140T) – 3 Years Warranty) to crush the almonds and the chili, then mix with a few spoons of crème fraîche or sour cream. Set aside.
  • The Za’atar is a mix of 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon sumac, 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds. You could also prepare a bigger portion and store it with your spices.
  • Prepare the salad. The dressing is a quick vinaigrette: mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with one teaspoon of mustard and each 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sugar, then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix again.
  • Once the sweet potatoes are ready, arrange everything on a plate. Cut the sweet potatoes in halves and top with the crème fraîche mixture and the Z’atar.
  • Bon Appetit!

What’s your favourite autumn dish? Let me know in the comments! And now since it’s December already, I’m thinking about some christmassy posts for the next weeks and maybe some more stories about Japan 🙂

PS: Next year I am definitely going to save for new plates. Something in the style of Motel a Mio.

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