This dish is the perfect way to celebrate the autumn equinox

It may not feel like it, but the equinox is here and so is a great excuse to move away from our summer diet and into more comforting recipes

Perhaps it’s because summer’s heat seemed to hold for longer than usual this year, or maybe the major news event that happened just as the nation returned to work and school. Whatever it was, there seemed to be a delay in that “sinking into autumn” feeling. 

On Sunday we were finally ready for something autumnal. We decided on a lasagne, with chestnut mushrooms sautéed with garlic, slices of squash roasted with fennel seeds and plenty of salt, and a white sauce where all the odds and ends of cheese found a home, along with plenty of nutmeg. It was the perfect gateway to autumn, the sign our appetites had started to shift. 

I don’t need much prompting to plan a themed menu, but my witchy friend Christie tells me that it’s the festival of Mabon today [Friday, September 23], which is something to do with the autumn equinox. So this week’s dinner will celebrate that. I’m kicking us off with toasts with soft goat’s cheese, blackberries simmered in balsamic vinegar, and toasted buckwheat. We’re going to have these mussels next, cooked with smoked bacon, apples, shallots and cider. I love cooking mussels – partly because they are so quick and delicious, but actually also because the preparation (cleaning and debearding them) takes a little work. I might even go all out and make chips to go with our moules. 

To finish, I’m going to bake a plum cake, possibly one with a crumble topping and some anise flecked through it. Thick cream, maybe some extra plums roasted with a slosh of booze on the side. As perfect a way to usher in autumn as any I can think of.