I love the transition from summer into autumn: everyone is still pretty relaxed after the holidays, but we’re also looking forward to the joys of the coming season. From a cook’s point of view, this is the best of both worlds. Our shopping baskets are still filled with sweet, sun-kissed tomatoes, ripe mangoes and figs, as well as the last of those soft summer herbs – tarragon, basil and mint – whose flavour, aroma and colour take us straight back to glorious sunny days; we can even still cook outdoors, at least when the weather plays ball, grilling prawns or corn on the cob one last time before the barbecue cover goes on again until next spring.

At the same time, our desire for food that comforts and warms body and soul is beginning to build: hearty pot barley and pasta, baked potatoes and fish pie. Autumn is a season when the hard herbs come into their own, not least because rosemary, sage and thyme are punchy enough to hold their own against the new season’s hearty root vegetables. It’s also now that we start to reach for warm spices, for smoked paprika and urfa chilli, to lend an autumnal note to vegetables such as sweetcorn and peas (both of which are often far better frozen than when even slightly less than fresh).

So say farewell (for now) to salad leaves and vegetables as green as freshly cut grass and welcome instead the hues of autumn: the orange of a squash or carrot, the red of a plum or chicory. For me, the cusp of autumn is a time for home-cooked meals that look in both directions – back to the heat of summer and ahead to the comfort food in store – and that are also very quick and easy to cook.

Cavolo nero with chorizo and preserved lemon

This works as well as a standalone tapas as it does as a side for any grilled meat. Serves four as a side dish.

1 tbsp olive oil
4 cooking chorizo, cut in half lengthways and then into 1cm-thick pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
600g cavolo nero, leaves pulled off stems, stems discarded and leaves chopped into 4cm-wide strips
Salt and black pepper
1 small preserved lemon, skin and flesh chopped, pips discarded
1 tbsp lemon juice
120g soured cream

Heat the oil in a large saute pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high flame. Fry the chorizo for three to four minutes, until golden brown, then add the garlic and fry for a minute more, until it starts to brown. Stir in the paprika, then lift out the chorizo and garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to a small bowl.

Add the shredded cavolo nero to the pan with two tablespoons of water, a third of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Cover the pan and leave to sweat and wilt for three minutes, stirring once or twice to help the greens along. Remove the lid and fry for three minutes more, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the leaves are starting to brown and are cooked but still have some bite.

Return the chorizo and garlic to the pan, stir in the preserved lemon and lemon juice, then take off the heat and stir in the soured cream. Spoon on to one large platter, or divide between four plates, and serve hot or warm.

Pot barley and mushroom salad with crisp caraway onions

Pot barley and mushroom salad with crisp caraway onions.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s pot barley and mushroom salad with crisp caraway onions: earthy mushrooms combine with hearty pot barley to winning effect.

If you can get your hands on them, add a few wild mushrooms to the mix here – they’ll lift the dish no end (just keep the total weight the same). Use a mandoline, if you have one, to cut the fennel: you want it really nice and thin. Serves six as a side dish or salad.

200g pot barley
4 large banana shallots, peeled
75ml olive oil
2 tsp caraway seeds
Salt and black pepper
1 small fennel bulb, cut widthways into 4mm-thick slices
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 50ml lemon juice
200g button mushrooms, cut into 5mm-thick slices
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
20g basil leaves, roughly shredded

Half fill a medium saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the barley for 30 minutes, until soft but still with some bite, then drain, refresh and drain again.

Finely chop 40g of the shallots and set aside, then cut the rest into 2-3mm-thick slices. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium, nonstick frying pan on a medium-high flame. Add the sliced shallots, caraway and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and fry, stirring, for eight to 10 minutes, until the shallots are dark golden brown, then set aside.

Spoon the barley into a large bowl and mix in the chopped shallots, the rest of the oil, fennel, lemon zest and juice, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Stir in half the fried shallots and spoon on to a platter. Top with the remaining shallots and serve.

Tomatoes with sumac onions and pine nuts

Tomatoes with sumac onions and pine nuts.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s tomatoes with sumac onions and pine nuts: make the most of the last of the tomato crop.

This is my go-to salad right now. Eat it on its own with crusty bread to mop up those gorgeous juices, or as part of a meze-style spread. The quality of the tomatoes you use will make all the difference, so use the ripest and sweetest ones you can find. The addition of a few chunks of ripe avocado is a welcome variation. Serves four.

1 large banana shallot, peeled and sliced into 1mm-thick pinwheels
1½ tbsp sumac
2 tsp white-wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper
700g tomatoes – ideally a mixture of large tiger, green and red plum, and red and yellow cherry
2 tbsp olive oil
15g basil leaves, plus a few extra small leaves to garnish
25g pine nuts, toasted

Put the shallot in a small bowl with the sumac, vinegar and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Mix together with your hands, so the sumac gets well massaged into the shallots, then leave for 30 minutes, to soften.

Cut the large tomatoes in half lengthways and then into 1-1.5cm wedges and put them in a large bowl. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half lengthways and add to the bowl. Pour in the oil, add the basil, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper, and toss gently with your hands to combine.

Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter and spread the shallots over the top. Lift some of the tomatoes and basil so they are visible above the shallots, sprinkle over the pine nuts and baby basil leaves, and serve.

Sardine, chickpea and harissa salad

Sardine, chickpea and harissa salad.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s sardine, chickpea and harissa salad: take tinned sardines to another level.

By my usual standards, this salad involves a lot of shortcuts (that is, it involves opening a few tins); it’s also a dish I can make without having to leave the house, because I always have all the ingredients in my kitchen cupboards. It’s a great quick lunch – I like it on a thick slice of toast. I adore tinned sardines, but they are a bit much for some, I know: jarred tuna, drained, is a more than adequate subsitute, if you prefer. Serves four as a light lunch or sizable starter.

60ml olive oil
2 tsp rose harissa (regular harissa will also do)
2½ tbsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
½ red onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 large eggs
1 medium iceberg lettuce, trimmed, leaves separated and cut into roughly 3cm pieces
2 tins sardines in olive oil, drained, the fish broken into 2cm pieces (170g net weight)
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
20g capers, roughly chopped
10g parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Put three tablespoons of oil in a small bowl, combine with the harissa, lemon juice, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, then stir in the onion and leave for 30 minutes, to give the onion time to soften and absorb the flavours.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and boil the eggs for six minutes (for a soft yolk). Drain, refresh under cold water to stop the eggs cooking further, then peel and keep to one side.

Put the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large bowl, add the lettuce and a pinch of salt, and toss gently to coat – as always, I use my hands to do this. Arrange the lettuce on a large platter or divide between four plates.

In the now empty lettuce bowl, gently mix the sardines, chickpeas, capers and parsley, then scatter over the lettuce. Spoon all but two tablespoons of the onion dressing over the top of the salad.

Carefully tear open the eggs, so you don’t lose any yolk, then arrange on the salad and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Serve with the remaining dressing drizzled on top.

Sweetcorn and avocado with sweet chilli and lime sauce

Sweetcorn and avocado with sweet chilli and lime sauce.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweetcorn and avocado with sweet chilli and lime sauce: a final fling for the barbecue so long as the weather plays ball.

This works as a side salad for grilled meat or spooned on brown rice or black quinoa. You can make the sauce well in advance (I’d also be inclined to make double or triple the amount of sauce, and freeze the excess, ready for next time), leaving just the corn to grill and the salad to mix. Serves six.

4 corn cobs, trimmed
15g mint leaves, roughly shredded
20g coriander leaves, chopped
2 large ripe avocados, peeled, stoned and cut into 3cm pieces
5 spring onions, finely sliced on an angle

For the sweet chilli and lime sauce
1 small red pepper
70g caster sugar
90ml rice vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Finely grated zest of 1 lime, plus 2 tbsp lime juice

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Start with the sauce. Put the pepper on a small oven tray and roast for 25 minutes, until soft and blackened all over. Take out of the oven and, when cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin, and remove and discard the seeds and stalk. Put the pepper flesh in the small bowl of a food processor, and blitz to a smooth puree.

Put the sugar, vinegar and fish sauce into a small saucepan on a medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring to melt the sugar, and leave to bubble for five to six minutes, until the syrup is thick and reduced to about a half. Off the heat, stir in the chillies, ginger, garlic and red pepper puree, and leave to cool. Once cool, stir in the lime zest and juice, and set aside.

Put a char-grill on a high heat and ventilate your kitchen. Once hot, griddle the corn for eight to 10 minutes, turning regularly, until fairly black all over, then cut off the kernels in large clumps.

Mix the corn kernels in a large bowl with the chilli sauce, herbs, avocado and spring onion, season with salt to taste, and serve at once.

Braised chicory with chestnuts and bacon

Braised chicory with chestnuts and bacon.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s braised chicory with chestnuts and bacon: the flavours of the new season come together in a single dish.

If you can, cook this in a long, narrow, ovenproof dish, so the chicory sits snugly in a line. The chestnut-and-bacon combo makes this officially autumnal, especially alongside a roast bird. Serves four as a side dish.

8 small heads chicory (white or red, or a mixture of both)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
200ml chicken stock
5g thyme stalks
60g plain flour
20g light brown soft sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
40g unsalted butter, fridge-cold and roughly chopped
100g cooked and peeled chestnuts, roughly broken
120g smoked bacon slices, cut into 2cm x 4cm pieces

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. In a large bowl, toss the whole chicory heads with the oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of pepper. Heat a large saute pan on a high flame, then sear the chicory (in batches, if need be) for three to four minutes, turning them three or four times while they cook, so they get well seared all over. Arrange the chicory in a 17cm x 28cm ceramic ovenproof dish, then pour over the stock, scatter over half the thyme and bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, until the chicory is soft.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix the flour, sugar, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Add the butter to the bowl and rub it into the flour with your fingertips, until the mix takes on the consistency of breadcrumbs, much as you would when making a crumble.

Remove the chicory from the oven, gently stir in the chestnuts and scatter over the bacon. Top with the crumble mix, scatter over the remaining thyme and return to the oven for 10 minutes more, until the crumble is golden and the sauce thick. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Spinach and gorgonzola-stuffed jacket potatoes

Spinach and gorgonzola-stuffed jacket potatoes.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s spinach and gorgonzola-stuffed jacket potatoes: never mind the baked beans or cheese, this is the way to serve jacket spuds for autumn.

If strong blue cheese isn’t your thing, use a cheddar or gruyère instead; whereas if you love the stuff, there’s nothing to stop you adding more gorgonzola, to boost that wonderful musty flavour. And if you’d rather keep it nut-free, just leave out the walnuts. These go very well with steak and a green salad. Serves four.

2 large baking potatoes
45g unsalted butter
3 tbsp double cream
60g gorgonzola piccante (ie, the strong variety), broken into pieces
Salt and black pepper
200g baby spinach
20g walnut halves, broken into 0.5cm pieces

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Bake the potatoes for about an hour, until soft all the way through, then cut them in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl; you should have about 450g in total. Set aside the skins (you’ll be using these later). Add 20g butter, the cream, gorgonzola, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper to the potato flesh and mash to combine.

Put the four reserved half-potato skins on an oven tray, divide 5g butter between them and sprinkle over a generous pinch of salt. Bake for five minutes more, until they crisp up, then remove from the oven.

Bring a medium saucepan half-filled with salted water to a boil, then blanch the spinach for 10-15 seconds, until wilted. Drain, refresh and drain again, squeezing out as much water as you can, then stir into the mash mix until well combined. Pile the spinachy mash into the empty potato skins, then return them to the oven for 15 minutes more, until the top of the mash is crisp and browned.

Melt the remaining 20g butter in a small frying pan on a high heat for one to two minutes, until it starts to brown, then fry the broken walnuts for 30 seconds, stirring constantly to stop them catching and burning. Spoon the nuts and melted butter from the pan over the potatoes and serve hot.

Crushed edamame and peas with lemon ricotta

Crushed edamame and peas with lemon ricotta.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s crushed edamame and peas with lemon ricotta: make everything ahead of time, then combine at the last minute.

In summer, I sometimes make a version of this dip with fresh broad beans, but ready-podded edamame and peas are a huge time-saver. All the various elements for the dish can be made ahead of time and put together just before serving; if you go down that route, keep the edamame/pea mix and the lemony ricotta sauce in the fridge until needed. Serves six.

250g podded edamame (fresh or frozen and defrosted)
250g podded peas (fresh or frozen and defrosted)
50g rocket
60ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon)

For the lemon ricotta cream
200g ricotta
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon, plus 1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil

To garnish
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes (or other chilli flakes)
10g rocket leaves, shredded

Start with the garnish. Put the oil, chilli and a pinch of salt in a very small saucepan on a medium heat. Cook for two minutes, until the oil turns red, then leave to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, blanch the edamame for two minutes, then add the peas and leave to boil for three minutes more, until the edamame and peas are both cooked. Drain, refresh under cold water and leave to dry.

Put the rocket, oil, garlic, lemon zest and half a teaspoon of salt in the bowl of a food processor, and blitz a couple of times, until the rocket is finely chopped. Add the edamame and peas to the processor bowl, pulse again to chop roughly, then transfer to a large, shallow bowl.

For the sauce, put the ricotta, lemon zest and juice, oil and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in the small bowl of a food processor. Blitz to a smooth puree and pour into a small bowl.

To serve, spread the ricotta cream over the edamame/pea mix, but don’t cover it completely. In a small bowl, toss the shredded rocket with the cooled infused oil, then spoon over the ricotta cream and serve.

Roast carrots with gingery tomatoes, quinoa and mint

Roast carrots with gingery tomatoes, quinoa and mint.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s roast carrots with gingery tomatoes, quinoa and mint: a real looker for the new season.

Baby carrots look glorious in this, but regular carrots cut into batons will do fine. The red quinoa, orange carrots and red tomatoes look wonderful together, but use white or black quinoa, if that’s all you have. Serves four to six.

300g cherry tomatoes, halved
60ml olive oil
1 tsp soft light brown sugar
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
Salt and black pepper
½ tsp cumin seeds
600g baby carrots, cut in half or quarters lengthways, so they’re 6-7cm long and 1cm wide (or regular carrots cut into batons)
40g red quinoa
10g coriander leaves, picked
10g mint leaves, picked

Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Put the tomatoes in a bowl with half the oil, the sugar, ginger, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix to coat, then spread the tomatoes cut side up on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Roast for an hour, until semi-dried and caramelised, then leave to cool. Turn up the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7.

In a bowl, mix the cumin and carrots with the remaining oil, a half-teaspoon of salt and lots of pepper. Spread out on an oven tray lined with baking paper and roast for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, then leave to cool a little.

While the carrots are roasting, bring a small pan of water to a boil, cook the quinoa for 10 minutes, until just done, then drain.

Mix the tomatoes, carrots, quinoa, coriander and mint in a large bowl, spoon on to a platter, or individual plates, and serve.

Burnt courgette with anchovies and pine nuts

Burnt courgette with anchovies and pine nuts.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s burnt courgette with anchovies and pine nuts: works as a snack, in a meze selection or as a side.

Serve this on bruschetta as part of a meze spread, or alongside slow-roast lamb. Serves four as a meze.

5 courgettes (about 1.2kg in total)
2 anchovy fillets in oil, rinsed, patted dry and finely chopped
2½ tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3 baby courgettes, sliced as thinly as possible on an angle (ideally about 1mm thick, so use a mandoline if you have one)
15g basil leaves, finely shredded
20g pine nuts, lightly crushed
10g parmesan, grated or finely crumbled by hand

Turn the grill to its highest setting. Put the big courgettes on a baking tray lined with foil, then cook them about 10cm below the grill for up to an hour, turning them halfway, until the skins are very crisp and brown. Set aside and, when cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin (or cut the courgettes in half and scoop out the flesh). Put the flesh in a colander for half an hour, to drain.

Put the drained courgette flesh in a medium bowl and mix in the anchovies, two tablespoons of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt, the garlic, sliced baby courgettes and two-thirds of the basil.

Heat the remaining half-tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan on a medium flame, then toast the pine nuts for two to three minutes, until golden-brown. Tip the nuts and their oil into the courgette mix, stir to combine, then transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with the parmesan and the remaining basil, and serve.

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