Enjoy Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

Enjoy Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

Just because the weather is cold shouldn’t keep you from enjoying in season fresh produce. Nature gives us a collection of its best winter vegetables that have proven to be flavorful. Winter root vegetables can contribute an interdependent, sweet flavor to a hearty winter soup recipe, like carrots, or sweet potatoes.

Roasting most winter vegetables brings out their best flavors. Even using complementary herbs and spices helps add some extra exceptional tastes.

Available In Season Winter Vegetables

Brussels sproutsAlthough Brussels sprouts are available year-round, their peak season is from September to February.

When looking to purchase them, remember to look for small firm sprouts with compact bright-green heads, and the smaller the head the sweeter the taste. Roasting Brussels sprouts lightly caramelizes their edges but keeps them tender inside.

To view a few recipes using Brussels sprouts one of the following links:

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon – includes a video

Warm Brussels sprouts and Dilled Potato Salad –  includes a video

Brown Butter and Brussels Sprout with Fennel

At All Recipes (allrecipes.com) they call Broccoli the star vegetable in stir-fries, soups, salads, and casseroles. Broccoli can be purchased year round. But when in season, as a winter vegetable when roasted retains its entire flavor and even gains deliciously crisp bits when.

preparing broccoli to eatWhen asked the question – How Do You Describe Broccoli? – to a community of online people at answers.com, one member answered saying, “Broccoli is good chopped into small pieces or cut into larger piece and cooked until tender.

It’s delicious to eat as it is when cooked naturally and also in recipes. The popular dish, broccoli and cheese is made with cooked, tender broccoli before draining and stirring in cheese until it melts and mixes in with the broccoli. You can also make cheese sauces, which you serve, poured over the broccoli on a plate. Either way it is cooked or served, broccoli is a favorite among vegetables and nutritionally powerful” (Answers).

To view a recipe using broccoli click here: Baked Garlic and Broccoli

The Sweet Potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the Convolvulaceae family. This species of plants are known commonly as the bindweed or morning glory family, which has more than 1,650 species of mostly herbaceous vines, but also trees, shrubs and herbs.

Stuffed Sweet Potato with Chipotle Black Bean and Corn SaladThe sweet potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root. There are about 1,000 species of sweet potatoes, with some varieties sold at market for food, while others are not for consumption, as they are poisonous. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the common potato, though it is not part the nightshade family.

The website – “The Worlds Healthiest Foods” – has this to say about sweet potatoes when preparing to eat them, “It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable.

Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. Of course, this minimal amount of fat can be very easy to include.

In our Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe, for example, we include 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and with just this one tablespoon, each of our 4 servings for this delicious recipe provides 3.5 grams of fat (whfoods).

To view a few recipes using sweet potatoes click one of the following links:

Sweet Potato Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans

Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Baked Beets and Sweet Potato Chips

KaleKale is considered to be the most robust of the cabbage family. Its high nutritional worth and intense flavor make kale an exceptional addition too many vegetable recipes. At Mind Body Green, Alison Lewis makes note of kale as “the new beef,” “the queen of greens,” and “a nutritional powerhouse”(MBG).

To view a few recipes using kale click one of the following links:

Red Kale Cannellini Beans and Chorizo Soup

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Red Kale Beets and Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette

Leeks are winter root vegetable that looks much similar to onions, and to which they are also related. Their flavor is onion-like but much milder, mellower, and not overpowering, as onions sometimes can be.

The darker green parts have plenty of flavor. They can either be cooked longer then the root parts to tenderize them, or used when making homemade soup stock, like chicken broth base soup along with potatoes, carrots, and herbs.

They can also be eaten raw or joined with a salad of leafy greens to divulge a wonderful crisp crunchy flavor.

Link here for a recipe using leeks: Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken –  includes a video

Turnips are a a round, light-colored root related to the mustard family. Though the vegetable is grown for its eatable root, the top green parts are also enjoyed in salads. Turnip greens are a common side dish in southeastern U.S. cooking, primarily during late fall and winter months.

Smaller leaves are preferred when boiling them in water, as the larger the leaf the stronger the flavor. However, if you find yourself cooking with larger turnip greens, any bitter taste can be reduced by pouring off the water from initial boiling and replacing it with fresh water.

The natural sweetness of Parsnips comes alive when they’re roasted and caramelized. The addition of fresh rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar makes a sweet, aromatic glaze. Roasted parsnips make a great side dish for pork tenderloin.

Link here for a recipe using parsnips :  Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Belgian EndiveThe genuine Belgian endive is deeply rooted in its country of origin – Belgian, were it was discovered in 1830. This compact white colored small cylindrical shaped leaf vegetable with light green tips is a tangy, but tender and delicious vegetable.

Some cooks add the leafy vegetable to soups, while others use it in salads.

Link here for more about endives discovery and for a recipe: Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken –  includes a video

Other winter vegetables that can still be found in your local market are…

Buttercup Squash – Collard Greens – Delicata Squash – Sweet Dumpling Squash – Winter Squash

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Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans

Platted - Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans over Boston Lettuce

Candy-cane

Image Credit: Christmas Wow

When you hear the word candy cane, it is always associated with a candy that is in the shape of a small cane with white and red strips through it.

Or a small rounded candy you would receive at a restaurant after enjoying a meal.

Did you know though that there is a root vegetable that is also referred to as a candy cane? Yes, the beet root called “Chioggia,” and it has stripes of red and white on the inside its flesh.

shredded candy cane beetThe beet is nothing new to the vegetable market, as it is a Heirloom, meaning heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated cultivars, and have a reputation for being high quality and easy to grow (The Heirloom Vegetable Gardener’s Assistant).

Open-pollination is a particular cultivar that can be grown from seed and will come back “true to type.”

Our featured recipe contains these heirlooms, the candy striped Chioggia. Here is what you will need to make your “Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.”

1 large chioggia beet, peeled and shredded

1 large Granny smith apple, shredded with skin on

1/4 cup pomegranate dressing (can be purchased at your local Whole foods Market)

1/3 cup pecan pieces

pomegranate dressingFirst add the dressing to a large mixing bowl. You can add more than 1/4 cup of the dressing if you wish.

shredded candy cane beets and green applePrepare the the produce, and add to the mixing bowl. After shredding the beet, and apple mix it right away with the dressing, as it contains vinegar, which will coat the produce and stop it from browning to fast. Isn’t that amazing how the chioggia beet looks so much like a candy cane?

adding pecansMix the shredded beet and apple together until it is well coated with the dressing. Next add the pecan pieces and mix in.

Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with PecansNext spoon the slaw into a salad serving bowl.

Platted - Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans over Boston Lettuce Plate and serve over a piece of Boston lettuce leaf, and your favorite meat dish.

This side salad can make a great addition to your “Turkey Dinner” this coming Thanksgiving (November 26th) or Christmas (December 25th).

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Asian Spicy Poached Chicken

 

Asian Spicy Poached Chicken

This Chinese-fusion dish is usually served at formal functions and gatherings, such as weddings. You don’t need to wait for any special event to enjoy this dish. You will need a few spices, 30 to 40 minutes of your time, and voila, you will have your own Asian Spicy Poached Chicken to enjoy at your dining table.

Here is what you will need:

1 to 2 pounds chicken thighs with skin and bone-in

1 small stalk of lemongrass

Peel of half an orange

1 stalk celery

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 ounce piece fresh ginger root

1 red Thai chili

2 green finger chilies

2 pieces star anise

½ a red onion

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Some fresh filtered water

Half a cup coconut oil or olive oil

preparing to cook Asian Spicy Poached ChickenBegin by placing cleaned chicken pieces in a pot or pan with enough water to cover the chicken. Add in the lemongrass, orange peel, celery, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes.

pouching chicken for Asian Spicy Poached ChickenWhen the chicken done, you can the cooked dish as is, but this won’t be Asian Spicy Poached Chicken without the spicy part! So let’s continue.

spicies for Asian Spicy Poached ChickenFor the spicy ‘sauce’ gather the peppercorns, onion, chilies, star anise, oil, ginger, and caraway seeds. Slice the ginger, onions, and chili.

cooked spices for Asian Spicy Poached ChickenIn a small sauce pan over medium heat, place all of the spices and oil into the pan. Slowly heat up to infuse the oil with the spices.

pour spices over Poached ChickenAfter about 5 minutes of the spices steeping in the oil, pour the ‘sauce’ over the drained chicken pieces. You can strain the oil off if you want, but the traditional way of serving this dish is with all the spices left in the oil.

close up detail of cooked Asian Spicy Poached ChickenThis dish is best enjoyed with a side of mixed vegetables. If you do strain the oil off, save it and use it as a dipping sauce or pour it over steamed vegetables for a great flavor. Enjoy your Asian Spicy Poached Chicken.

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Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

We went shopping for some fruits and vegetables and I found a good watermelon. The batch of melons we were examining were from Mexico. The watermelons were all little girl enjoying a sweet watermelonthe same weight and the same shape. If your asking how is that possible, it is because we bought it at Cost Co. All of the fruits and vegetables they stock have to be to their standards, that is shape, size, and weight. Especially if the produce is sold in singles, like watermelons. As they have no scales to weigh the produce, they need to be the same weight.

With that said, you may think that every watermelon in the bunch is equally as ripe and sweet. But not so. How is one able to choose the right melon?

I found this image on-line that is self explanatory. It shows how you can select the right melon, so when you cut it up and take your first bit, you won’t be dissatisfied with a non-sweet, pithy watermelon.

choosing a rip watermelon

Once you have your rip, sweet watermelon, you need to try this wonderful salad: Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad.

Here is what you will need:

chopped watermelon

Wow, doesn’t that melon look rip and juicy. You need  1 ripe and sweet watermelon, cubed at desired size, 5-7 pieces per salad plate. You will use between 1/4 and 1/2 of the melon. It all depends on how many plates you will be serving.

ingredients both for the Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad and the vinaigrette

In addition you will need:

1 shaved fennel bulb set in ice water to crisp

1/8 cup toasted hazelnuts, broken into small pieces

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces

1 cup Tender Greens lettuce mix (variety of lettuce and greens)

1/2 shallot, minced

The shallot will be used in the Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette.

ingredients for Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

Along with the shallots you will need the following to make the Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette to mix with the leafy greens:

5 chive stems, finely chopped

3 basil leaves, finely sliced (I forgot to mark that on the image. That is what is in the jar in the back ground)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

 Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

 

Whisk together shallots, chives, basil, honey and balsamic; slowly add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

preparing hazel nuts, and anise for the Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

Next remove the green top from the fennel and shave the bulb allowing the shaved parts to fall into a pie plate full of  ice water to crisp the shavings. What ever method you want to use, chop the hazel nuts. I have a Progress-o Chopper in among my kitchen arsenal.

 

mixing salad, adding vinaigrette

 

In a large bowl gently toss tender greens, crisp fennel, toasted hazelnut, add some salt and pepper to taste. Next add 2 tbsp. of the vinaigrette together with the leafy greens and incorporate well.

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

Plate the leafy greens mixture. Place cubed watermelon on salad mix, about 5 to 7 cubed pieces. Crumble goat cheese on top. Finish with drizzled vinaigrette around salad.

If you desire to add meat to this salad, cook up 12 to 16 oz. of pork bacon; but not crispy. Cut each strip into 5 or 6 slices. Top the bacon after adding watermelon and then top with goat cheese.

Take this salad to your next Pot Luck or Summer Picnic in the Park and nobody will stop talking about the person who brought that tasty and delectable salad.

This recipe adopted from: Tender Greens 

 

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