Surprisingly, there are a number of foods that make winter their season and, if you stock up on these basics, cooking satisfying and wholesome meals in the dead of winter will be doable. Availability will vary from region to region, but here’s a general list of foods that make winter their season, along with tips on how to incorporate these ingredients into your meals.
Kale. This hearty green is a rich source of minerals (including calcium), and although it is available year-round, it actually tastes the sweetest in the winter. To eat, wash leaves thoroughly and tear them into small pieces—discarding the tough stem. Place in a steamer and steam until tender (five minutes). Sauté in garlic olive oil with a sprinkling of salt as a side dish or toss right into a hot bowl of soup to boost its nutritional content.
Leeks. A mild-flavored member of the onion family and an essential ingredient in potato-leek soup, this winter vegetable adds delicious flavor to many recipes. Try them in your favorite winter stew.
Radicchio. A type of bitter lettuce, radicchio can be grilled or used in salads.
Radishes. Most commonly used in green salads and vegetable trays, this spicy root vegetable can also be cooked as a side dish. Thinly slice radishes and steam them until tender. Then sauté steamed radishes in butter with a few cloves of garlic, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of dried dill weed.
Rutabaga. Another root vegetable, try mashed rutabagas instead of mashed potatoes.
Turnips. These spicy root vegetables can be braised, sautéed, pickled or roasted. As a rule, smaller turnips are usually tastier than large ones.
Depending on your region, these citrus fruits may be abundant at this time of the year. While they’re fabulous straight out of the peel, there are some creative alternatives for enjoying these vitamin-rich fruits.
Grapefruit. Try an orange-grapefruit-pomegranate compote for a healthy dessert.
Lemons. Whip up a batch of lemon bars.
Oranges. How about some freshly-squeezed orange juice to start your day? Also try adding orange zest to some of your favorite baked goods, like muffins and sweet breads.
Tangerines. Toss a peeled tangerine into a blender along with frozen banana chunks and some orange juice for a smoothie.
Salads are a tasty, easy meal solution no matter what the time of year. Preparing delicious salads, even warm salads, in winter are as simple as knowing what’s in season.
This time of year switch to cold-weather vegetables like broccoli, beets and squash and seasonal fruits like pears and citrus. Add roasted root vegetables and more flavorful dressings to balance the heartier tastes and textures of winter produce.
For a full-meal salad, finish with cooked beans, meat, poultry or seafood and a bit of cheese and toasted nuts.
Ready to put it all together? Start with a mix of greens such as baby kale, spinach, arugula, Napa cabbage or your favorite salad greens.
Add one of these combinations and toss with your favorite dressing. See how to make an easy dressing at home below.
• Radishes, chives, citrus segments
• Bean sprouts, ginger, green onions, almonds
• Red peppers, corn, chiles, lime
• Radicchio, garlic, lemon, watercress
• Roasted turnips, sliced apples, tarragon
• Carrots, fennel, walnuts, citrus segments
• Roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, chives
• Roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced apples, pine nuts
• Roasted butternut squash, pears, pecans
• Watercress, beets (roasted or grated raw), citrus segments
Enjoying a salad bowl filled with winter lettuce, red onions, fresh herbs, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, peppers and more is a great way to kick off the New Year. But the veggies are only half the picture. The salad dressing on top can turn that healthy choice into an unhealthy one. A quick trip down the salad dressing aisle at any conventional grocery store features an astounding array of bottled chemicals, sugars and high fructose corn syrup, overly processed oils and preservatives.
On the other hand, a good salad dressing not only adds great flavor but nutritional value as well. It’s actually quite simple to make your own dressing. Nuts and fruits can make for a creamy and flavorful salad dressing. Save money by using your imagination and what’s in your pantry to come up with new flavor combinations.
Here’s a starter recipe for a healthy salad dressing:
1/3 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts, cashews, almonds or pecans
1/2 cup chopped fresh fruit, such as apples, plums, peaches, blueberries or strawberries
1/4 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk or fruit juice, such as pomegranate or orange
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice (or vinegar)
Purée all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender until smooth. For thinner dressings, add a little more soy milk or fruit juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon or lime juice as needed.
Making your own dressing really doesn’t take much time. Try it and see for yourself!
If you do buy bottled dressings, be sure to look for preservative and additive-free dressings based on ingredients such as vinegar, mustard and expeller-pressed oils. Shy away from buying dressing made with added sugar, fructose or high fructose corn syrup.
Red Apple Salad with Oranges and Feta
- 3 seedless oranges
- 6 cups baby arugula
- 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese
Grate rind from 1 orange into a small bowl and set aside.
Peel all the oranges and section. Reserve juice, squeezing more for the dressing if needed. Combine arugula, orange sections and apple in a large bowl.
Whisk 3 tablespoons orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper with orange rind in a small bowl. Pour over salad and toss gently. Spoon onto individual serving plates and sprinkle with feta.
4 to 6 servings
- 1 head Tuscan, black, or Dino kale
- 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
- 1 small shallot or garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse kale leaves and pat them dry. Trim off stem ends and slice the leaves, crosswise, into ribbon-like pieces. Set aside.
Finely mince the shallot or garlic clove and put it in a large salad bowl. Add vinegar and sugar and let sit 10 minutes. Whisk in oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
Add kale and almonds. Toss gently until the leaves are evenly coated.
Spinach Salad with Figs
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
- 8 ounces spinach, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 dried figs, stemmed and sliced
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or cheese of choice
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; pour off 1 tablespoon of the fat and set aside. Leave 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the skillet and discard any additional fat. Crumble the bacon, when it has cooled and set aside.
Add chickpeas to the skillet with the bacon fat and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and slightly crisped, 7 to 10 minutes. Place spinach in a large bowl; scatter chickpeas over spinach.
Remove skillet from heat and whisk in vinegar (watch out, as mixture may spatter). Add mustard and, while skillet is still warm, whisk in reserved bacon fat and olive oil. Quickly scrape dressing into bowl with spinach and chickpeas. Add figs and crumbled bacon. Toss together and sprinkle with blue cheese. Serve immediately.
Radicchio Salad With Green Olive Dressing
4 to 6 servings
- 1 head radicchio
- 18 green olives
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish
Trim the radicchio and cut or tear it into shreds or bite-size pieces. Put the radicchio in a large salad bowl.
Mince the olives and garlic into a paste. Then mix with oil, vinegar or lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. (You can also do this in a blender, if you like.)
Toss the radicchio with the dressing. Serve topped with plenty of shredded Parmesan cheese.
Pear Fennel Walnut Salad
- 1 bulb of fennel
- 2 pears
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 3 tablespoons walnut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Trim the fennel, cut the bulb in half lengthwise and slice the fennel very thinly. Core the pears and slice them very thinly. You can peel the pears, if you prefer. I like to leave it on.
In a large bowl, toss the fennel and pear slices with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice (this will help keep the fennel and pear slices from browning).
Whisk the walnut oil, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juic, and salt to combine.
Arrange the fennel and pears on 4 plates and drizzle each plate with dressing. Sprinkle walnuts on top. Serve immediately.
- New Food Friday – Chicory and Pomegranate (marcellarousseau.wordpress.com)
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- Quinoa Fruit Salad (angiesgrapevine.wordpress.com)