What's on offer in Autumn

Key points
  • Autumn is a peak time of year for a diverse range of fruits and vegies that are ideal to add to the menu
  • Asian greens are abundant this season and while they’re not part of traditional Italian cuisine they can be featured within fusion dishes which blend Italian and Asian to create something distinctively different
  • Many staples of Mediterranean cuisine are also widely available and you might also consider taking advantage of some lesser known vegies for their distinctive flavours
  • Take advantage of the widespread availability of ginger during autumn to add classic Italian sweets such as Gingerbread Biscotti – perfect to serve with coffee!      

AUTUMN IS ABOUT TO ARRIVE, and for many restaurants it’s the last chance to take advantage of the weather for al fresco dining before the colder months set in.

Of course, the fact that Australia is situated within several different climatic zones means not everyone has to worry about winter! That said, it’s certainly true that some foods are at their very best quality and availability during autumn, so now’s the time to add them to the menu!=

The Australian autumn is a terrific time of year for fruit – you’ll see an abundance of apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, passionfruit, pears and plums available right now, along with some of the more exotic fruits such as guava, limes, mangosteens, nashi, quince and tamarillo.

Fruits such as these, along with the delicious flavours of kiwifruit, papaw, fuji, figs and pomegranates, are not only ideal atop dessert pizzas – they’re also the perfect ingredient to make up an instantly-Instagrammable mocktail with the simple addition of juice and/or soft drink.

There’s also a fabulous selection of autumn vegetables currently available, which may help you add some new twists to those menu items which need a bit of revitalising.

Asian greens are abundant in autumn, and while these are certainly not part of traditional Italian cuisine, they are a prominent ingredient of many fusion dishes which blend Italian and Asian to create something distinctively different. You can also experiment with Asian influences on the pizza menu, such as Theo Kalogeracos’ Birds of Tokyo pizza which features roasted chicken marinated in Teriyaki sauce, pickled cucumber and Japanese mayonnaise, or a Vegetarian Pizza with mushrooms, peppers, garlic, greens and fresh ginger.

Of course autumn also brings with it many of the staple vegies of Mediterranean cuisine including broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans, cucumbers, mushrooms, capsicums and zucchini.  It’s also a great time of year for potatoes, pumpkin, cauliflower and leeks – the great base for a hearty ragout or casserole.

You might also consider trying out some of the lesser-known vegies for their distinctive flavours. A good example is daikon (also known as white radish) which will add an exotic touch to salads. There’s also witlof, whose leaves have a delicate taste which will complement game meat such as spatchcock or quail – ideal for adding to the menu as we enter the colder months.

You’ll also find fresh ginger in abundance during this season – not only does it impart a wonderful flavour, but a little goes a long way! Ginger is ideal to add flavour to soups and Gingerbread biscotti is a traditional Italian sweet that’s perfect to serve with coffee.