The nights are getting longer and there’s a nip in the air, which can only mean one thing: winter is on its way. Although colder weather means waving goodbye to short sleeves and swimsuits for all but the bravest among us, there’s still stuff to get excited about, namely all the delicious seasonal produce that proliferates when temperatures plummet. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, onions and turnips are all root vegetables that come into their own in wintertime, as do leafy greens like cabbage, kale and brussels sprouts. Here’s our pick of the best winter warmers that take advantage of the spoils of the season.
Root veg variety
There’s a massive range of root vegetables that hit the shelves around this time, and many of them complement one another really well, so don’t be afraid to team them up. This simple sweet potato and butternut squash curry is an ideal example of such a pairing, with the sweet flesh of the veggies providing the perfect backdrop to intense flavours of turmeric, cinnamon and ground coriander.
Beetroot and carrot is another dream team duo, and now’s the time of year to get them fresh out of the ground, tops still attached. Taking a bunch of both, clean them, and then, using a very sharp knife — a Japanese Santoku knife is ideal — finely slice them and place them on an oiled baking tray or sheet in a single layer. This recipe recommends whizzing up the tops to create a no-waste pesto as an accompaniment, but we like ours drizzled with tabasco at the heart of a taco.
Other times, key winter ingredients need to take centre stage. That’s what happens in this Riverford pumpkin soup, which gives the usually mellow pumpkin some Mexican flavour, courtesy of corn, avocado and smoked paprika, plus a kick of chilli that really warms the cockles!
Leafy greens and plenty of beans
‘Winter warmer’ may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of greens, but because lots of them are really robust plants, they can survive cold weather better than many other veggies. Get into the winter spirit with your greens by teaming up kale, for example, with the rich, decadent flavours associated with November and December, as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall does in this hearty mushroom and kale lasagne.
Likewise, Anna Jones’ chard, bay and lentil gratin is what cosy, night-in cooking is all about; lovely seasonal chard, a couple of quick steps to fill a deep, oven safe pan (our hard anodised aluminium one is ideal), half an hour in the oven and hey presto! A bubbling, flavour-packed dish that’ll feed the whole family. Elsewhere, this soup combines kale and chard with a bulb of fennel, too, and lots of hearty beans to boot.
As a delicious seasonal side for chicken thighs, drizzle chunky wedges of cabbage with oil, lemon juice and caraway seeds and then roast them for an ideal December dinner.
What’s your go-to recipe for winter veg? Start a discussion in the comments or let us see a photo of the dish on Instagram @CirculonUK