Our Five Favorite Winter Vegetables
We North Americans enjoy fresh produce no matter what the season, thanks to imports and hothouses. And yet many of us are trying to shrink our carbon footprint by eating fruits and vegetables grown locally and in season. Craving tomatoes? Use high-quality canned or look into canning and preserving fresh tomatoes yourself this summer! In the meantime, take a closer look at these five winter vegetables and resolve to work them into your cold-weather meals.
Beets. Russians love beets for making borscht, the deeply satisfying beet soup served with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Ruby red or golden orange, beets are rich in potassium, magnesium, beta carotene and folic acid. They’re also rich in flavor and very versatile. Roasted beets make wonderful add-ins to a winter salad, a simple small plate of soft goat cheese or a hot medley of roasted carrots and sweet potatoes drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Roast them wrapped in aluminum foil (or with a bit of water in a Dutch oven) in a 400° F oven for about 50 to 60 minutes.
Cabbage. Cabbage comes in many shapes and sizes, including your standard green, red, bok choy, Napa and Savoy. Many of us grew up with boiled cabbage served up on St. Patrick’s Day but it’s certainly not the only (or even the tastiest) way to prepare it. Finely shredded cabbage, along with finely diced onions and wheat germ, makes a great addition to meatballs in a soup or with pasta. Bok choy gently sautéed with garlic and a dash of lemon makes a great side for broiled salmon or shrimp. Shred purple cabbage with carrots, green onions and pecans and drizzle with mustard vinaigrette for a quick winter salad. (Purple cabbage is also great in tacos!)
Carrots. They’re terrific raw, but carrots also offer a lot of potential in the winter kitchen. Because they have a sweet taste, carrots work well in curry sauces as well as with Middle Eastern blends of mint and cinnamon. Try cooking up a carrot soup with plenty of herbs and spices and topped with a sprinkling of parmesan mixed with wheat germ. For a really healthy stir-fry, heat your olive oil then flash-fry cubed sweet potatoes, carrots and onions. After a few minutes, add your softer vegetables such as eggplant, mushrooms and garlic. Season to taste. You can make a healthy and surprisingly good smoothie with coconut water, a carrot, an orange, wheat germ, fresh ginger, almond butter and allspice.
Kale. This dark green leafy vegetable has an impressive amount of nutrients, especially vitamins A, C and K. Drizzle the leaves with olive oil and roast them to make kale chips. Or remove the spines and stems and sauté as you would spinach, with garlic, lemon, butter or whatever you prefer. Chop up kale and spinach and use in place of beef for a tasty vegetarian lasagna.
Potatoes. The trusty and beloved potato has carried humanity through cold, lean winters for many centuries. This winter, try your hand at potato latkes. They are easy to make and out of this world! Serve them up the traditional way with sour cream and applesauce, or mound salad greens on the side topped with sautéed mushrooms with a chive and Greek yogurt sauce for passing.