Matt Wilkinson's 7 salads for 7 days: Autumn

Matt Wilkinson
30 March, 2015

Chef Matt Wilkinson shares an autumn salad for every day of the week, from his new book, Mr Wilkinson's Simply Dressed Salads.

For me, more than any other season, autumn is broken into two halves: early and late.

Early autumn is taking advantage of the last of the summer bounty. There is the last of the tomatoes, zucchini and corn coming through in the garden. It is all about getting the most out of the days, while it is still light in the afternoons, before the chill of winter descends, before the days get shorter, and the sunlight diminishes. Autumn mornings are amazing – crisp, clean and cold – and the nights are clear and full of stars. I love to get out and forage and fish, before it gets too cold. This is the season of mushrooms, and mushrooming. Of earthy scents and flavours. There are endless goodies that we can now get all year round which used to be ‘seasonal’, but if you really want to enjoy produce at its peak, indulge yourself by going to your local farmer’s market in autumn and getting a selection of wild mushrooms from around your area. Cook them down in a pan with a bit of butter, seasoning and some soft herbs… what a start to the day on toast!


Broad bean, mint, parsley and pomegranate fattoush

I have this love affair with Arabic flavours; it all started when I move to Melbourne. There is something magical about the flavours, texture, ease and yet complexity to the dishes - none more so than a fattoush, seasonally changing to whatever is around.


Baby red beets cooked in cranberry juice, with ricotta, cumin and dill

I have no problems in saying ‘I love you beetroot!’ We cook them in cranberry juice to add to the natural sweetness of the beets, then finish them over a grill or barbecue to add a smoky caramelised flavour.


Brown rice and feta salad with hot ’n’ sour dressing

I used to hate brown rice – childhood memories of tinned tuna and frozen sweetcorn, uck! – until a trip to Barham in country New South Wales, where I met the McConnell family, who are amazing biodynamic growers. They cooked lunch for me and I ate this rice for the first time. The nutty complexity of it is divine. So good simply boiled, but in this salad, excellent.


Salad of clams, potato, sorrel and sour cream

The beginning of autumn says hello to wonderful new potatoes. These, mixed with clams that have been feasting over summer, make for a sublime dish. Add a little zing of sorrel, a slurp of sour cream and a hint of white pepper and it’s simply delicious.


An old man's slaw

Generally we eat salads in the summer, but think of coleslaw: everything in it is seasonal and at its best in the colder months. I love this kind of slaw – raw, crunchy and so flavoursome. Make it up as you go along, just use this as a base ... I truly love this slaw in between two slices of buttered bread with some blue cheese.


Salad of witlof, grapes, walnuts and quail

A good friend of mine, Riccardo Momesso, took me quail shooting once. Afterwards we sat on this hill overlooking the country, eating grilled just-shot quail. An amazing surreal day, but it hit home just how great simple food can be. This is one of those dishes.


Torn fresh figs and grapes with almonds and strawberry balsamic

Whether used in dishes savoury or sweet, figs just rock. I warm the fruit in the oven to give the figs a sun-warmed feel. I like it… a lot!

Cooked members can now make all of Matt's beautiful dishes from his book Simply Dressed Salads.


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