There is a significant downturn in Farmers’ Market attendance come November. Maybe it’s the gray weather or the lack of tomatoes? I’ve always been stumped by the disappearance of shoppers. I mean, people still need to eat, right?
Sure, you’re not going to find a sun-ripened peach so juicy you must eat it over the sink or tomatoes so sweet their skins are blistered from growing to fast in the hot sun. But a trip to the market in the coldest season presents some equally intriguing options- if you just give them a chance.
Winter vegetables are nutritional powerhouses containing anti-cancer fighting properties and they are packed with vitamins and fiber. When compared to their spring and summer siblings, winter vegetables last much longer: If stored properly, greens can last at least a week and root vegetables up to four weeks.
My Winter Watch List
- Hearty greens are everywhere. You’ll find rainbow-colored Swiss chard and Siberian kale you never knew could be so tender. When it comes to hearty greens, I think simple is best. This garlicky swiss chard is so good! If you don’t have Swiss chard you could use kale or spinach or a combination.
- I can’t get enough of the chartreuse heads of romanesco broccoli that looks like something out of a Dr. Suess book. A bowl of Warm Romanesco & Radicchio with Caramelized Shallot Vinaigrette sounds good right about now.
- And if you’re like me and you can’t resist staring at the big bulging heads of white, purple and cheddar (yellow) cauliflower, check out the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds, Brown Butter and Lime……..you’re welcome. A recent lunch at Pizzeria Delfina had me searching for and discovered their recipe for the heavenly Spicy Cauliflower that I devoured.
- Beets!!! Whether red, gold or chioggia (with a candy cane striped interior) are my favorite winter treats. If you have only eaten beets from a can I encourage you to try roasting them at home. Roasting brings out the natural sugar, earthly flavor and retains their jewel-toned vibrancy (when roasted separate from other items). You’ll never eat canned beets again!
Once roasted and peeled store your beets in a glass container for up to one week. I make a simple salad of shaved beets, greens (I like arugula), blue or goat cheese, toasted walnuts and vinaigrette. But you can also eat them raw. Sliced on a mandolin or very fine with a sharp knife they add an earthy crunch to salads.
When you arrive home from the market, remove the beet greens and store them separately. They can be tossed into soups, sautéed and added to omelets, or used raw in a green salad.
- Radishes that have captivating names like scarlet, watermelon (yes, it really looks like a watermelon inside!), French breakfast and Bordeaux to name just a few.
Watermelon, french breakfast and scarlet radishes
- Celeriac aka “celery root” line the tables of most farmers’ stalls. If you’re looking for inspiration this winter, Diane Morgan’s terrific cookbook Roots will do the trick. From plain old carrots and potatoes to more exotic vegetables like rutabaga and salsify, Morgan presents mouth-watering recipes that make the most of winters’ bounty. Many recipes are on her website, including the delicious Celery Root Purée with Anjou Pear. Potato gratin is such a treat but this Root Vegetable Gratin includes celery root and parsnips and is so dang good!
- This winter salad combines many seasonal ingredients, oranges, radishes and arugula (called rocket in the recipe). It calls for red lollo rosso lettuce however any lettuce will do. And don’t feel as though you need to follow the dressing recipe exactly. (My family doesn’t care for fennel seeds so I didn’t add them in.)
- A big pot of soup is welcome this time of year. This Winter Lentil Soup is hearty and satisfying. I add or replace vegetables depending on what I have on-hand.
And watch for these other winter favorites: fennel, winter squash, leeks, cabbages (red, green and savoy), broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, parsnips, turnips, carrots, rutabagas, greens and, of course, citrus.