Wonderful Winter Produce

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Wonderful Winter Produce

You may think summer is the undisputed winner when it comes to nature’s bounty, but winter is a wonderful time for vegetables and fruit, too.
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Thursday, February 4, 2010 - 5:30pm


You may think summer is the undisputed winner when it comes to nature’s bounty, but winter is a wonderful time for vegetables and fruit, too.

I know some of you look at what the market offers up in the colder months and just shake your heads. Winter produces some weird looking stuff.

But just because you may not be familiar with the likes of the Turban squash, the parsnip and the kumquat is no reason avoid them. Come on, be friendly!

By buying in-season produce, you can make more environmentally friendly choices, and you’ll be better able to find organic selections that are grown locally and stocked at farmer’s markets. You’re also supporting local business within your community, and reducing the amount of pesticides and other harmful chemicals your family may be exposed to.

Using seasonal produce is a good way to save on your weekly budget, too, since seasonal fruits and veggies are less expensive than out-of-season selections.

But, you may ask, do I do with something like celeriac? And don’t get me started on the dreaded Brussels Sprout or the turnip. Even winter fruits, like Persimmons and Pummelos seem strange. But don’t feel intimidated. With a little planning, you can use all the fruits and vegetables available in winter to make delicious, warming and healthy meals for your family.

If you’re looking for ways to add some seasonal produce to your winter table, here are a few suggestions.

Add winter veggies to soups and stews. - Think outside the box when creating meals this winter. While potatoes are a staple, why not add Butternut squash to your beef or pork stew. They have a sweetness and texture that is similar to sweet potatoes, and are packed with nutrition. Turnips and rutabagas are great in soups, they bring a nutty flavor and potato-like texture to the pot. Plus, they freeze well, where potatoes do not. Winter squashes make great soups on their own. Try Butternut squash, pumpkin or Acorn squash in a pureed soup. These squashes also pair wonderfully with cold weather fruits like apples and pears.

Roasting brings out the flavor of winter produce. - If you have some odds-and-ends veggies hanging around, and you don’t quite now how to use them up, roasting is the answer. The nice thing about roasting veggies is that it really doesn’t matter if it’s kind of a hodgepodge. One potato, a few carrots, some celeriac or a few leeks, a little olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need. Pop it in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes and you have a delicious side dish that goes with anything. You can even puree the roasted mix (add a little butter and parmesan cheese if you like) and serve like you would traditional mashed potatoes. Roasting brings out the sweetness of the veggies, so you can take advantage of all that natural flavor. For something a little more adventurous, try roasting carrots with apples, sweet potatoes and celeriac. Adding a drizzle of honey over the top of the mixture before roasting will bring out the sweetness even more, and allow the mixture to caramelize toward the end of cooking.

Steam ‘Em. - Winter produce like broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes do great in the steamer. Add veggies to a steamer basket over simmering water. Let cook about 15 minutes or so, until crisp-tender. One of my favorite ways to serve cabbage, another winter staple, is to quarter a medium cabbage head and place in a microwave safe dish that has a lid. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water and cook on high for about 5 minutes. Drain slightly, add butter, salt, pepper and a few celery seeds, then serve.

Add winter fruits to salads. - Cranberries, apples, pears and Satsuma oranges are all great additions to salads. Don’t be shy! Add citrus, like tangerines or grapefruit to a spinach salad. Top with thinly sliced red onion and a few pecans. Or try apples or pears with butter lettuce and a few sprinkles of feta or blue cheese. The possibilities are endless, and delicious!

So, don’t be afraid to try winter produce. Some of the selections may look a little funny, it’s true, but when it comes to taste, you just can’t beat what winter has to offer.

For those of you who feel a little more adventurous, here are a few more winter produce recipes you might try.

Roasted Parsnip and Gruyère Strudels from Epicurean.com

Celeriac Slaw With Remoulade from Alton Brown’s Good Eats

60-Second Brussels Sprouts from About.com

Especially for Vegans and Vegetarians, check out Shizuoka Gourmet and take a look at recipes like Forgotten Vegetables: Rutabaga

For a complete list of seasonal winter produce, check out FoodFit.com.

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Keywords: Veggie | potatos | produce | recipes | seasonal produce | tomatos | vegetables