Look for these winter vegetables at farmers’ markets (if you’re lucky enough to have year-round markets near you) and in produce departments for the best flavor and greatest value in season. Specific crops and harvest dates will depend on your region’s climate and most of these are only available locally in temperate regions.
Beets are in season in temperate climates fall through spring, and available from storage most of the year everywhere else. Fresh beets are often sold with their greens still attached
Belgian Endive are mostly “forced” to grow in artificial conditions, and are available year-round. Their traditional season (when grown in fields and covered with sand to keep out the light), is late fall and winter.
Broccoli, like many cruciferous vegetables, can be grown year-round in temperate climates, so we’ve forgotten it even has a season. But, like the rest of its family, it tastes best (that is, more sweet, less bitter and sharp) when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.
Broccoli Rabe, rapini is a more bitter, leafier vegetable than its cousin, broccoli, but likes similar cool growing conditions.
Brussels Sprouts grow on a stalk, and if you see them for sale that way snap them up – they’ll last quite a bit longer.
Cabbage is bright and crisp when raw and mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked. The cooler the weather it grows in, the sweeter it tends to taste (this effect is called “frost kissed”)
Carrots are available from winter storage from local growers in many areas, and fresh in warmer and temperate regions.
Cauliflower may be grown, harvested, and sold year-round, but it is by nature a cool weather crop and at its best in fall and winter and into early spring.
Celeriac/celery root is at its best in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring (except in cold climates, where you’ll find it during the summer and early fall).
Celery is at its best in the fall, with its harvest continuing through winter in warm and temperate climates.
Chicories are cool weather crops that come into season in late fall (and last in temperate climates through early spring).
Curly Endive (Frisée) is a chicory at its best in fall and winter.
Escarole is another bitter chicory in season fall and winter.
Fennel‘s natural season is from fall through early spring. Like most cool weather crops, the plant bolts and turns bitter in warmer weather.
Herbs from hothouses in cooler climates.
Horseradish is at its best in fall and winter. Like so many other root vegetables, however, it stores well and is often available well into spring.
Jerusalem Artichokes/sunchokes are brown nubs, that look a bit like small pieces of fresh ginger. Look for firm tubers with smooth, tan skins in fall and winter.
Kale is like all hearty cooking greens – cooler weather keeps it sweet.
Kohlrabi comes into season by the end of fall, but stays sweet into winter.
Leeks more than about 1 1/2 inches wide tend to have tough inner cores. The top green leaves should look fresh – avoid leeks with wilted tops.
Onions, year round.
Parsnips look like white carrots and have a great nutty flavor. Look for thinner parsnips, since fatter ones tend to have a thick, woody core you need to cut out.
Potatoes, year round.
Radicchio, like all chicories, radicchio is more sweet and less bitter when the weather is cool.
Radishes large varieties are available in winter.
Rutabagas also known as “yellow turnips” and “Swedes” are a sweet, nutty root vegetable perfect in stews, roasted, or mashed.
Sweet Potatoes are often sold as “yams.” They store very well and are available year-round.
Turnips have a sharp but bright and sweet flavor. Look for turnips that feel heavy for their size.
Winter Squash comes into season in early fall and usually lasts well into winter.
Recipes for Winter Vegetables
Beet Ravioli with Poppy Seed Butter
If you don’t have time to make fresh pasta, use purchased wonton wrappers.
- 2 large red or golden beets (about 14 ounces)
- 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
- 1 1/4 pounds Fresh Egg Pasta, recipe below
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or Smart Balance Butter Blend
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap beets individually in foil; place on baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Open foil carefully (steam will escape). Cool. Peel beets; finely grate into a medium bowl. Add ricotta cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in breadcrumbs.
Roll Fresh Egg Pasta dough into long sheets according to recipe. Place 1 dough sheet on work surface. Using 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut sheet into 7 rounds. Transfer rounds to lightly floured baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough for total of 56 rounds.
Sprinkle 2 smooth kitchen towels with flour. Place 8 pasta rounds on work surface, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic. Place small bowl of water next to work surface. Spoon 1 teaspoon beet filling onto half of each round. Dip fingertip into water and dampen edge of 1 round. Fold dough over filling, pushing out as much air as possible and pressing edges firmly to seal. Transfer to prepared towels. Repeat with remaining rounds.
DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer until frozen solid, about 6 hours. Transfer ravioli to resealable plastic bags.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat and stir in poppy seeds; keep warm. Working in batches, cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water until cooked through, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to skillet with melted butter; toss to coat. Divide ravioli among 8 plates; sprinkle with Parmesan.
The flavor, color, and texture of roasted fresh beets is incomparable, so don’t use canned beets. When choosing beets, select bunches with bright, glossy leaves attached.
Fresh Egg Pasta
You can also cut ravioli from the store bought sheets of fresh pasta dough.
MAKES ABOUT 1 1/4 POUND
- 2 3/4 cups flour
- 4 large eggs
MAKING THE DOUGH
Place flour in processor. Add eggs. Using on/off turns, blend until clumps of moist dough form (do not process into a ball). Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; shape into ball. Knead until smooth, sprinkling lightly with flour if sticking, about 3 minutes. Wrap in plastic. Let rest at room temperature at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
ROLLING DOUGH INTO SHEETS
Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Cover with plastic wrap. Set pasta machine to widest setting. Flatten 1 dough piece into rectangle; run through machine. Fold in half crosswise (end to end) and run through again. Continue, adjusting machine to narrower settings after every 2 passes and dusting with flour as needed to keep from sticking, until pasta sheet is 22 inches long (scant 1/16 inch thick). Place sheet on lightly floured work surface; cover with plastic. Repeat with remaining pasta pieces.
Roasted Vegetable Tart
1 refrigerated 9 inch pastry crust, such as Pillsbury
- 2 red bell peppers
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 small onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup fat free half & half
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 13″ round. Transfer to a 9 inch pie dish; press onto bottom and up sides of dish. Fold overhang under; crimp edges. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Line dough with foil or parchment paper; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Return to oven and bake until crust is light golden brown, 15-20 minutes longer. Let crust cool completely.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450°F. Using a small paring knife, cut around stems of bell peppers. Lift out stems with seeds and discard. Transfer whole peppers to a small baking dish; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Roast on upper rack, turning peppers occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer peppers to a small bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 minutes. Peel peppers, then cut into strips. Set aside.
At the same time, toss eggplant with 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast on lower rack for 10 minutes. Add sweet potato to eggplant and mix gently. Continue roasting until eggplant and sweet potato are tender, 20–25 minutes longer. Set vegetables aside.
Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss tomatoes with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Arrange tomatoes, skin side down, on prepared sheet. Roast on lower rack until tomatoes are beginning to brown and are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and fennel; cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, 5–6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
DO AHEAD: Vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Scatter onion-fennel mixture over bottom of crust. Top with eggplant-sweet potato mixture and roasted peppers. Scatter 1 teaspoon thyme over. Top with cheese and tomatoes.
Whisk eggs and half & half in a small bowl; season lightly with salt and pepper. Slowly pour egg mixture over vegetables. Scatter remaining 1 teaspoon thyme on top.
Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake tart until filling is set, 50–60 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Crispy Cauliflower with Capers, Raisins, and Bread Crumbs
The secret behind this Sicilian-inspired dish: crunchy homemade breadcrumbs.
To make your own, let cubes of Italian bread dry out, then process them into coarse crumbs in a food processor.
- 1 large head of cauliflower (2 pounds), cut into 2” florets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, soaked, rinsed, patted dry
- 3/4 cup fresh coarse breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl; season mixture with salt and pepper. Divide cauliflower mixture between 2 large rimmed baking sheets, spreading out in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until cauliflower is golden and crispy, about 45 minutes.
DO AHEAD: Cauliflower can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Reheat before using.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden, 5–6 minutes. Add capers and cook until they start to pop, about 3 minutes longer. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are golden, 2–3 minutes; transfer breadcrumb mixture to a plate and set aside.
Add chicken broth and anchovy paste to same saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add golden raisins and white wine vinegar and cook until half the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Do ahead: Breadcrumb and raisin mixtures can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm raisin mixture before continuing.
Transfer warm cauliflower to a serving bowl. Scatter raisin mixture over, then toss to distribute evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cauliflower with breadcrumb mixture and parsley.
Wilted Escarole with Prosciutto and Chilies
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into matchstick-size pieces (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 heads of escarole (about 2 pounds), leaves torn into medium pieces (16 packed cups)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Working over a small bowl, finely grate enough zest from lemon to measure 2 teaspoons. Cut lemon in half; squeeze juice into another small bowl. Set zest and juice aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until garlic is beginning to turn golden at edges, about 2 minutes. Add prosciutto and cook, spreading with tongs to keep pieces from sticking together, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes; stir for 30 seconds, then add escarole. Cook, tossing escarole, until wilted but not overcooked, 3–5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Using tongs, transfer escarole to a serving dish. Add butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice to pan. Cook, whisking, until a sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle sauce over escarole.
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