Oh summer, you’re such a seductive little minx the way you waft on in, just as the year is drawing to a close, and whip us all into a frenzy of bare feet and salt water. Frozen mangoes and late afternoon rock pool swims. There’s always so much expectation vibrating through the air when the weather warms up.. Kind of annoying in a way as all those expectations usually require action and when it’s really hot, all I want to do is curl up in the hammock and sleeeep (or eat aforementioned frozen mango..Mmmmm).
There comes a point though, usually in mid February, when I start to really crave all that Autumn has to offer. There’s something about the shift to a cooler, less intense season that’s incredibly grounding. I can usually count on the irresistible urge to pull out my more ‘wintery’ cookbooks as soon as it starts to get wet/windy/autumny and settle down with recipes for soup, stew and homemade pies (I need something to replace the loss of mango season). It’s that whole ‘nesting’ thing I think. I’d even go so far as saying that I kind of wish we had a really distinct Autumn season here in Australia, the type you see in the US when there’s actual visual evidence outside your window of change in the air.
I think it’s trying to capture that distinct feeling of change that leads me to fantasise every single year about escaping away to a gorgeous house somewhere semi-rural, with a massive open fire place stacked high with logs. Red wine. really comfy, overstuffed chairs. Cold air. The chance to wear my wellies and stride through fields with purpose, ideally with a labrador by my side (I may have been watching a bit too much Downton Abby after re-reading that last sentence). I’m hoping to make that dream a reality a couple of times this Autumn and Winter.
One thing we can do, here in Australia, regardless of whether Autumn is more like slightly diluted summer than a glorious feast of crispness, is embrace food that reflects the shift. For me, as I mentioned above, it’s soups and stews. Pies and bakes. The slow cooker really comes into its own once we farewell summer and welcome in the cooler months. I’ve popped a recipe for a very Autumn-y pasta bake below but before launching into that, a little meander down memory lane and the summer of 2013/2014.
An Autumn Pasta Bake
This recipe came about on the Tuesday before payday when I had but a lone chorizo sausage in the freezer and half a bag of wholemeal spelt pasta. Being that I had three hungry mouths to feed, I needed to come up with something filling and yummy. I also wanted to sneak some green stuff in there as both husband and son will gobble up pasta but often pass on the salad. And so Chorizo Pasta Bake was born!
- 500g wholemeal pasta (or pasta of your choice)
- 2 cups tomato based pasta sauce (I use the Aldi Organic range)
- 1 chorizo sausage, diced
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- Fetta cheese (for crumbling over the top)
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced)
- Cook pasta according to instructions.
- When pasta is almost finished cooking, heat olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat
- Add the diced chorizo and cook, stirring regularly till almost cooked through
- Add the red onion and toss to combine
- When onion has softened and chorizo cooked through, remove from heat
- Drain pasta and pour into a casserole type dish
- Pour contents of the chorizo pan into the casserole dish, making sure to pour off all the yummy juices from the cooked sausage
- Stir through the pasta sauce
- Add the mozzarella and baby spinach and stir through
- Top with the fetta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil
- Place into the oven and bake for around 15 minutes of until golden and gooey.