Quick hearty meals-Joe Trivelli’s hearty, sustaining autumn recipes

Quick hearty meals-Joe Trivelli’s hearty, sustaining autumn recipes

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After an early, stop-start beginning, autumn is well under way. It is arguably the finest and most exciting season for the cook: when the showstoppers, ripened or fattened by mellow sun and lazy summer days, hit the shelves. At work, whole fungi, game and pumpkins take turns glowing in the embers of the wood oven, while close by the celebratory first white truffles are being shaved over taglierini, pizza and sometimes salads.
At home our weekly vegetable box keeps us locked into the season. It is heartening, too, to see more unusual seasonal products, such as cobnuts, on supermarket shelves. My recipes reflect how we eat as a family and our longing for dishes with backbone, something to sustain and support us as the long nights draw in.

The beetroots and shallots are dressed with a piquant but fortifying old-fashioned sauce that plays to the vegetables’ sweetness. Contrastingly, bitter leaves, such as radicchio, raise the bar in the salad stakes. I can’t resist their ruby leaves and love how their flavour offsets the aniseed flavour of fennel and cuts through the fattiness of the salty bacon. I have used the heart of the celery, one of my favourite ingredients, to add extra crunch. Then there is a variation of a parmigiana that I first made by accident. Everyone loves aubergine parmigiana, unctuous, rich and melting. Here, I’ve steamed mushrooms to allow their heady character to shine through in the bake with special effect.
If it’s autumn, there has to be pudding, at our house anyway. The fig and walnut recipe is intended to satisfy fans of steamed puddings, but it is so easy to make it’s almost cheating. The fruit rises to the top in marbled, jammy splodges. We ate it just above room temperature without cream or yogurt, but could have had either, or both. It’s autumn. And indulgence starts here.
 
Baked apple and radicchio salad  The ultimate autumn salad and a meal in a bowl. Serves 4
crisp apples, such as Cox 2 good bacon or pancetta lardons 200g fennel seeds a pinchwine 1 glassparsley a small bunchround radicchio ½ inner celery heart 1 fennel 1 bulb lemon 1horseradish 2 tbsp, grated olive oil
Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Cut the apples into segments and core them. Fry the bacon/pancetta over a medium heat in a heavy pan that will go in the oven. When a bit crispy round the edges add the fennel seeds followed by the apples and wine. Move to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Allow them to cool a little before assembling.
Pick and wash the parsley, wash the radicchio, tearing the leaves as you go. Slice the celery heart and fennel.

Squeeze the lemon over the horseradish and loosen with a little olive oil. Season the leaves and vegetables with a little salt and pepper in a salad bowl before adding everything else and tossing further.
Beetroot and caper sauce An old-fashioned preparation: beetroot and caper sauce. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer An old-fashioned preparation for beetroots with a sauce thickened with a touch of flour. A meat stock will add an extra dimension if you have it but reserved vegetable cooking water would be equally good. Serves 4
beetroots 500g, scrubbedgarlic 3 cloves shallots 200g, peeled celery ½ head thyme 2 sprigs, pickedolive oil butter 40g small salted capers 2 tbsp rosemary 1 sprig, pickedfine flour ½tbspwine vinegar 2 tbspbroth or water 100ml

Heat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Lay two foil sheets side by side with a square of baking paper on top of each. In the centre of one place the trimmed and well-cleaned beetroots and one of the garlic cloves, on the other the shallots, celery heart cut into pieces roughly the same length as the shallots, and another garlic. Season both well, sprinkle with the thyme leaves and drizzle with oil.
Fold and crunch up each to make two enclosed parcels. Bake on a tray, with the folds facing up so that no liquid escapes, until soft when pricked with a knife.
Be cautious when opening the packages to check, so you are not burnt by the steam within. They will both take about an hour depending on the size and freshness of the beetroots.
Slice the beets and arrange on a warm plate with the other vegetables before making the sauce. Melt the butter in your smallest pan over a medium heat with the last garlic sliced in two. When foaming well, add the capers and rosemary leaves and fry for half a minute before adding the flour. Stir continuously over a lowered heat for 3 minutes, then add the vinegar and broth or water in quick succession, stirring quickly all the while to avoid lumps. Continue to cook for 5 minutes and pour the smooth sauce over the vegetables. Season with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper.
Celeriac, porcini, potato and mozzarella This would be good with many types of fungi: celeriac, porcini, potato and mozzarella. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer I was going to make this with fresh porcini, but when I went to my local deli, they were £99.50/kg so I stuck to dried porcini and shiitake. Nice in a couple of big dishes or individual ones, this is more of a main than a side and would be good with many other types of edible fungi. Serves 4 as a main
dried porcini 15g shiitake or fresh porcini 300g garlic 2 cloves, chopped thyme 8 sprigsextra virgin olive oilceleriac 250g celery with leaves 2 stickspotatoes 250g mozzarella 250g, slicedparmesan 50g, grated



Heat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Soak the dried porcini in hot water for 20 minutes and then cut the fresh and dried mushrooms into ½ cm slices. Chop the garlic and pick the thyme. Dress the mushrooms with most of the thyme, the garlic, a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Peel and slice the celeriac and celery as thinly as you can. Thinly slice the potatoes as well, you don’t have to peel them – just scrub. Toss them together with salt, pepper and olive oil. Drizzle a high-sided cooking dish/dishes with olive oil and embark on a first layer interspersed with potatoes, celeriac and celery. Cover with a layer of mushrooms and a third of the mozzarella slices. Finely sprinkle with parmesan before adding another celeriac and potatoes layer and repeat the process. Continue until everything is used, finishing with mozzarella, parmesan, 3 tbsp of water and a sprinkle of the remaining thyme leaves.
Loosely cover with foil or paper and bake for 45 minutes, removing the foil cover for the last 10 minutes so that the top is bubbling and golden.
Fig and walnut pudding Especially good with rye bread: fig and walnut pudding. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

I especially like this with rye bread. There’s no need for any salt with this recipe as the bread will already have it. The method is quite crude, but the result is special. I am told it is good cold for breakfast, too, but I was up last so didn’t get to try.
bread 200g, thickest crust removed milk 400mlgolden caster sugar 120g honey 30g butter 30g eggs 4 shelled walnuts 100g figs 300g (4 large), each fig segmented into 8ths
Soak bread in the milk for at least half an hour until totally soft. Heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3.
Blitz the bread and milk in a food processor. Add the sugar and honey and mix more. In a small pan, melt the butter and then turn down the heat and cook until light brown and nutty. Pour into the mixer, too, followed by the eggs. Mix.
Tear off a large sheet of baking paper that will comfortably fit inside a suitable baking dish. A tip is to screw the paper up first so that it holds its shape better. Pour the batter in, stir in the walnuts and evenly scatter over the figs.
Bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot with cold pouring cream and whisky if desired.
Joe Trivelli is co-head chef at the River Café

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