Making the most of winter's harvest
As the weather becomes gloomy and the colorful produce of summer and fall disappear it's apparent that winter is almost here. It can be hard to figure out how to cook the heartier vegetables of winter. Though the main growing season may be over, winter still has plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables that can be used in a variety of dishes.
Leafy greens can be found throughout the year, but are especially abundant in the winter when many other vegetables have passed their peak season. Options include kale, Swiss chard, collard greens and mustard greens, which are all great sources of vitamins A, C and K. Winter greens can have a strong, bitter taste that can be tempered with seasonings and a bit of fat. Pairing them with nuts, cheeses or bacon can help mask the bitter taste while still maintaining the leafy green as the star of the dish.
Vegetables such as turnips, rutabagas, potatoes and carrots are also easy to find throughout the winter. Most root veggies can be chopped and added to soups and stews; they can also be puréed or mashed like potatoes and mixed with greens. By slicing them, they can also be substituted for pastas in dishes such as lasagna. Onions and garlic are also continuously available throughout the winter months and add great flavor to any dish.
Locally harvested fruit selections tend to dwindle throughout the winter months. Fruits such as cranberries, pears, pomegranates and citrus fruits are still widely available and easy to utilize in any cooking process. These fruits also have plenty of vitamins and minerals to give your body a boost during the coldest months of the year. Pears, pomegranate seeds and citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons can be used in savory entrées and sweet desserts. Pomegranate seeds add a nice crunch to salads; pears can add a sweet and even crunchy element to salads, desserts and breakfast pastries; citrus fruit juice can used to braise meats and tenderize them in the cooking process. All of these fruits can also be enjoyed as they are as a perfect, healthy snack.
The recipes below utilize different winter fruits and vegetables for both sweet and savory dishes. They add vibrancy to everyday dishes and can also be used during the holidays to spice things up. These fruits and veggies also fill you up and add much-needed nutrients to your winter diet.