Seasonal Eating Guide: What to eat in October

Orange pumpkins from above

When the sun finally deserts us come October, and we’re left with cool air, grey skies and wet pavements, I like few things better of an evening than a hot drink and a good (cook)book on the sofa, or some warming food and a glass (or two) of wine in a local Weinstube (wine tavern). On market days, wandering around in the cold morning drizzle, I pick up heavy, wet leaves and grubby roots and tubers, which I love peeling and chopping in the kitchen for dinner as it grows dark outside. There are some wonderful sweet and savoury things to do with the ugly, knobbly, earthy produce on offer this month. Here’s a handful of suggestions…

Pumpkin (Kürbis)

Bowl of pumpkin soup
Pumpkin soup with bacon and sour cream (I forget which recipe!)

Bright orange, tubby and cheery, I do love a good pumpkin (though please don’t mention pumpkin spice).  Hallowe’en still isn’t widely celebrated in Germany, but pumpkins and other strangely-shaped gourds are used to decorate windowsills and shop fronts, and there are whole festivals built around them, too.  There’s pumpkin soup on just about every restaurant menu throughout pumpkin season, and it’s frequently on table in various forms chez Dietz. I am a huge fan of:

★ Yotam Ottolenghi’s pumpkin, saffron and orange soup with caramelised pumpkin seeds,
★ Rachel Roddy’s Sicilian-style sweet-and-sour pumpkin, and
★ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s pumpkin risotto with crispy sage.

Fennel (Fenchel)

Close up of Diana Henry's fennel and gruyère gratin
Diana Henry’s fennel and gruyère gratin

Not being much of a fan of aniseed, I was very surprised to discover only a few years ago that I actually very much like fennel (Fenchel). The white and green bulbs have a much milder taste than fennel seeds, a wonderfully crisp texture when finely sliced for salads, and they develop a much sweeter flavour when they’re boiled or braised. I can’t seem to stop making Diana Henry‘s fennel and gruyère gratin (pictured above, from the indispensable Cook Simple), but here are three other recipes I’d like to try out whilst there’s fennel about:

★ Nigel Slater’s pork and fennel pot roast,
★ Mark Bittman’s roast chicken with fennel, and
★ orange and fennel salad (and there’s another nine fennel recipes to browse there, too).

Red Cabbage (Rotkohl)

As far as German culinary stereotypes go, you don’t get much more autumnal (or winter-ish) than a plate of braised red cabbage (Rotkohl). Where I live, it’s often served alongside a thick slice of Sauerbraten (traditional German marinated beef pot roast) and a couple of fat dumplings, however I’d love to try something a bit different this year, perhaps:

★ Jamie Oliver’s spiced lamb flatbreads with red cabbage pickle,
fermented red cabbage with apple or
★ Yotam Ottolenghi’s beetroot, carrot and red cabbage slaw.

Celeriac (Knollensellerie)

Celeriac
Celeriac

Another very funny looking root, and one that takes a bit of patience (and strength) to peel and hack apart, celeriac has a milder, sweeter flavour than its long, thin cousin, the celery (the crunchy stalk with leaves). Often used in Germany to add a bit of depth to vegetable stock, celeriac is also good mashed, roasted or even raw and grated. Three of my favourite celeriac sides include:

★ Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s celeriac and apple mash,
★ Yotam Ottolenghi’s tart apple and celeriac salad, and
★ Anna Jones’s celeriac soup with hazelnuts and crispy sage.

That’s it for this month, and I can’t believe there’s only two months left of this seasonal eating guide to go before the year’s out!  What are you making the most of this month?

Also in season in October: apples (Äpfel),  beetroot (Rote Bete), brussels sprouts (Rosenkohl), chestnuts (Maronen), kale (Grünkohl), pears (Birne), walnuts (Walnüsse), salsify (Schwarzwurzel) and savoy cabbage (Wirsing).

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