Food crops harvested in winter months with the use of hoop houses or hot houses (such as used in California, USA) and other methods that extend the natural growing season, and old-fashioned storage vegetables like cabbages and potatoes all mean that there are plenty of winter produce to choose from.
What winter produce that is available, is sufficient to enjoy delicious winter salads along with great homemade dressings and vinaigrette’s.
The different crops available in the winter months include among others:
Beets: Available in season from fall through spring in temperate climates, and those available during the summer months, are from storage.
Belgian Endive: This leafy green is forced to produce under artificial conditions, making them available year round. Their traditional season, as with all chicories, is late fall through winter.
When grown in open fields they are covered with sand for about 6 months to keep out the light. When grown in hot houses they are placed in darkness for 6 months before shipping to market for purchase.
Read more here about the endive (includes a recipe with video): Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken
Brussels sprouts: These vegetables are part of the cabbage family. They grow on stalks, and they last somewhat longer than when sold packaged or removed from their stalks.
Cabbage: This vegetable is crispy when raw with bitter flavor, though it mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked.
Sweet Potatoes: This root vegetable is often referred too or interchangeable with yams. The two vegetables are different though.
Most yams in the USA are sweet potatoes. Yams are dry and starchy, and grown mainly in Africa and Asia. They can weigh up too 100 pounds.
Sweet potatoes store very well and are available year round in warmer areas. Though their season is from late summer through winter.
Other vegetables available in fall to winter months include, radicchio, radishes, turnips, winter squash, rutabagas, parsnips, chard, collard greens, cress, spinach, kale, carrots, leeks, fennel, and celery among others.
There are also a verity of fruits in season during the winter months that you can enjoy in fruit salads, or as a snack. To view the available in season winter fruits link here: Fruits Info – Seasonal Fruits.
Salads To Enjoy In The Winter Months
Chilly temperatures, and dark winter days are traditionally suited to cheese, meat, and vegetable casseroles, including pastas. A salad filled with raw vegetables may not seem appealing in the cold winter.
But what if you could prepare a warm winter salad, like this one – Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts. This recipe is offered by a professional chef, author, recipe developer, educator and certified health coach at A Food Centric Life.
Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
1 large bunch of organic kale (Tuscan, Lacinato or Dinosaur)
1 large shallot
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
Handful of dried cranberries
Small handful of chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (suggestion: infused balsamic fruit flavored variety like dark cherry)
Salt and pepper, to season
Bring a large pot (5 quart/liter) of water to a boil while you are trimming the kale leaves and slicing the shallot. Trim the ribs out of the center of the kale leaves, and then cut the leaves crosswise into ribbons. Slice the peeled shallot crosswise into thin rings.
When water boils, add 2 teaspoons salt, then drop the kale leaves into the water and cook for 2 minutes (called blanching). Drain well through a sieve and place kale on a clean kitchen towel. Alternatively you can steam your kale for 2-3 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.
In a medium sauté or fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat until warm. Add the shallot rings, then the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until softened. Be careful not to let them burn. Add the cranberries, walnuts, and vinegar. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the cooked kale. Toss the kale ribbons to coat and warm, season up with salt and pepper, and then serve.
Make this a even more warm winter salad by either serving the warm salad as a side dish with roasted chicken, as Sally the author of “A Food Centric Life” explains, or as a foundation for roasted salmon. She also suggests placing the warm salad over a bed of quinoa for a vegetarian or vegan entree.
Sally says you can use a fruit flavored infused balsamic vinegar like dark cherry or fig when making the vinaigrette.
Another great warm winter salad you can enjoy is: Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup onion, diced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups sweet potatoes, diced
2 cups fresh shrimp
3 cups trimmed and coarsely chopped kale leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heat a a ceramic coated cast iron pan over medium heat, add olive oil.
Next add onions and red pepper flakes, and saute until onions are soft and browned.
Next add garlic and cook about 30 seconds more.
Next add sweet potato and cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes. If necessary add a 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to help cook the sweet potato.
Next add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they are pink in color.
Turn heat to low and add kale, stirring in until wilted.
Season to taste with salt and pepper (optional).
Plate and serve.
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