I’m starting my Sunday series with a list of my top winter fruits and veggies. Although we are quickly approaching spring, we still have time to enjoy these beauties while they are readily available at the market.
Blood Oranges, available from December to March.
The obvious way to enjoy these lovelies is by peeling and eating right away. But my favorite way is to mix them into a mimosa drink!
1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)
3 cups chilled champagne or sparkling wine
1 tablespoon Cointreau (orange-flavored liqueur)
Strain juice through a sieve into a pitcher; add remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.
Cranberries, from early fall through March. Right now, this berry is at its peak, and you can find them by the bucket full.
I prefer the dried version, as I add them to any recipe that calls for raisins or any other kind of “dried fruit” particularly cookies, and I always include them in my salads! Plus, they look pretty, especially when you add a whole, uncooked berry to a glass of champagne or cocktail as a colorful garnish. For an easy healthy snack try this recipe, Cranberry-Pumpkin Seed Trail Mix.
Dates are harvested between September and March in Arizona and California.
There are many ways to enjoy dates. Add them to salads or to sweeten roast chicken or pork. I always make sure to purchase them pitted. My preferred way to eat these are by splitting and stuffing with goat cheese as a simple savory appetizer or stuff them with peanut butter instead, for a sweet snack!
Pears, North American pears are grown in Oregon and Washington. You can find some variety of pear in season from August through May.
Rhubarb is harvested late winter through spring.
Rhubarb leaves are toxic, so trimming and discarding them is essential. For a simple snack, dip pieces of rhubarb in honey or sugar. Another incredibly easy dish to prepare is Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp:
- 8 ounces strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered if large)
- 8 ounces rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
FOR THE TOPPING
- 1 cup oats
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the fruits; strawberries through salt. Transfer to an 8-inch baking dish.
- In another bowl, combine the toppings; oats through salt. Stir until combined and slightly clumpy. Sprinkle over fruit mix.
- Place into oven and bake until juices are bubbling in the center and topping is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Brussels Sprouts, cabbage’s mini me! Its peak season run September through February.
These are perhaps my favorite winter vegetable! I practically cook these every week throughout the entire season. Toss halved sprouts and sliced onions with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees until crispy and brown, about 45 mins. Sprinkle with bacon.
Fennel’s natural season is from fall through early spring.
Fennel is one of those fantastic foods that can be eaten raw or cooked, either way, they are delish! I love sliced raw fennel as an appetizer along some cuts of meats and cheeses. But my favorite fennel dish is a salad. Slice fennel and red onions thinly and mix with sliced oranges and toasted walnuts atop a bed of arugula and baby spinach. Sprinkle with goat cheese and drizzle lemon vinaigrette!
Sweet Potatoes are often sold as “yams” from late summer through winter.
In case you haven’t noticed, roasting is my preferred method of cooking just about anything. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into bite size. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and finely chopped garlic. Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence. Arrange sweet potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet or in 13×9-inch baking dish. Place in oven and roast at 400 degrees until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.
Broccoli is available all year, but it’s at its best during peak season: October through April.
My simplest way to cook broccoli is by steaming it then tossing with olive oil, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and a little grated lemon zest! Of course roasting is my second best; with sliced Vidalia onions, crunchy bacon and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
There you have it, a sampling of what’s in my kitchen all winter long. What are your favorite winter fruits and veggies? Feel free to comment, I’d love to know!