It’s easy to eat seasonally in the summer, when the weather’s nice. Those of us that live in northern climes don’t have the luxury of a year-round growing season, where perfect tomatoes and crisp red peppers are an everyday thing.
It’s not impossible to eat seasonally when the weather outside is frightful, however. As long as you pay attention to what’s in season in the winter, and you know what produce can be grown and shipped within the United States (and not from South America or beyond), you can eat as healthfully and deliciously in the winter as you can in the summer.
Root vegetables like potatoes, beets, rutabagas and turnips are easy to find, and squash, of course, is available well into the winter. Broccoli and cauliflower aren’t in season through the whole winter, but at least through January they are easy to find. Hearty greens like kale, chard and collard are arguably better in the winter, and so is fennel, the crunchy vegetable related to dill and parsley, with a sweet, anise-like flavor.
For fruits, citrus is the star of the show in winter — it’s everywhere, from jumbo oranges to boxes of clementines. Pomegranates are typically only available in the winter, and add a crunchy tartness to both savory and sweet treats. Pears of all varieties are also a winter fruit, and so are kiwis, though kiwis are likely to be shipped from as far away as Italy or New Zealand.
Pear and Pomegranate Salad
8 cups spinach, either baby spinach or chopped regular spinach
1 ripe pear
⅓ to ½ cup pomegranate seeds
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
¼ cup crumbled stilton, gorgonzola cheese or other bleu cheese
Cracked black pepper
If seeding a whole pomegranate, first remove enough seeds for recipe. Put spinach into bowl. Slice pear into quarters, and then cut ⅓-inch slices from each quarter; arrange on spinach. Slice shallot into quarters and slice as thinly as possible; arrange on salad. Sprinkle seeds and cheese onto the top, crack plenty of black pepper, and serve with your favorite vinaigrette — champagne, balsamic or fruit-based. Serves 6-8.
Adapted from the Food Network
Fennel and Cauliflower Gratin
1 medium head cauliflower (1½ to 2 pounds)
1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups warm milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Bread or cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 375. Chop cauliflower into florets, and boil for 6 to 8 minutes until slightly cooked, but not fork-tender. Slice fennel in half, and then slice into thin strips, and chop onion. Heat some olive oil on medium heat in a skillet, and first sweat onions, then add fennel and cook all together until fennel is softened. In a saucepan, heat butter over medium heat until melted, then add flour and cook until mixture is bubbling, 2 minutes or so. Pour in milk and whisk constantly, until mixture is at a low boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add cheese and stir, and then turn off heat and keep stirring until creamy. Toss cauliflower, fennel and onion together and add to buttered baking dish; pour cheese sauce over the vegetables, and top with bread or cracker crumbs, and cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
Kale, Sausage and White Bean Pasta
2 cups chopped kale
1½ cups chopped or crumbled sausage of your choosing, either pork or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ cups small pasta, either cavatappi or rotini
1 can cannellini beans
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan or asiago cheese for topping
Chop vegetables and sausage and set aside. Put water in a large pot and set to boil, for pasta. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat, and add garlic and onions to cook until softened. Add sausage to pan and cook through. Open can of beans and drain, and set aside. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until desired doneness. Once sausage is fully cooked, add kale to skillet and toss constantly with sausage, garlic and onions until the kale is cooked to preference. Drain pasta, and while pot is still hot, add small amount of olive oil to coat bottom, and then add the beans. Add pasta back into pot and toss everything. Add kale and sausage mixture into pot and toss again. Season with salt and pepper. Serve while still hot, topped with cheese.
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Fill a large pot with water, add clementines and set to boil. Boil for two hours with peels and all. Check periodically to make sure water hasn’t boiled down. After two hours, remove clementines and let cool. Preheat oven to 375. Remove any seeds as well as the nubbly bit at the top, and cut each fruit in half. Add half of the clementines to a blender, peels and all, and pulse a few times; then add the rest and pulse a few more times. Add vanilla, and crack six eggs into the blender and pulse again so all is fully blended. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds — either pre-ground or ground in a food processor or coffee grinder — and 1 cup coconut flour. Slowly add the egg and orange mixture, stirring to combine until mixture is quite sticky and dense. In an 8-inch baking pan, lay a piece of parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Add the cake mixture into the pan, and using your hands, press down so it fills the pan and is flat. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Serve with whipped cream, or a caramel sauce, or both.
This recipe can be made entirely with nuts if so desired, skipping the coconut flour and replacing with another cup of ground almonds. Adapted from Nigella Lawson.