Winter's Best Vegetable and Fruit Dishes
Just because some farmers’ markets are closed for winter doesn’t mean you have to close down your veggies at the dinner table. Since fresh vegetables and fruit are grossly underrepresented on restaurant menus, cooking them at home is a sure-fire way to eat enough of the good stuff. Unfortunately, in the winter months we often retreat from fresh produce, thinking it’s not as available or as tasty. Admittedly, a summer-ripe tomato is hard to beat, but done the right way, winter produce can be just as exciting.
In Carrot-Parsnip Soup with Parsnip Chips, winter root vegetables lend their complementary, slightly sweet flavors to a hearty bowl of soup. A topping of crunchy parsnip chips is an unexpected—and delicious—twist.
Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Parsnips
Black kale—sometimes called cavolo nero—is dark green and becomes very tender when cooked. If black kale is unavailable, use regular kale. This makes a filling vegetarian main dish, or serve a half serving on the side of pork tenderloin or roasted chicken.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ham and Garlic
Although Brussels sprouts are available year-round, their peak season is from September to February. Look for small, firm sprouts with compact, bright-green heads―the smaller the head, the sweeter the taste.
Roasting brings out the best in Brussels sprouts: It lightly caramelizes their edges but keeps them tender inside. Don't trim too much from the stem ends of the sprouts since they may fall apart. Country ham imparts saltiness to the dish; if it's unavailable in your market, substitute regular ham.
Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta
Lentils with Wine-Glazed Winter Vegetables
Winter vegetables are cooked separately, glazed with tomato paste and red wine, and then added to the lentils. Any lentils will work, but we like black or French green lentils for this recipe; they make for the most dramatic presentation and have a great flavor.
Winter Greens, Asiago, and Anchovy Pizza
Anchovies and raisins, a popular eastern Mediterranean pairing, bring a salty sweetness to this calcium-rich pizza. Use any combination of cool-weather greens you like—collard greens, kale, or mustard greens.
Butternut Squash Lasagna
The sweet squash contrasts beautifully with Smoky Marinara in this butternut squash lasagna. You can make the marinara in advance, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Or use a bottled marinara for quicker prep time.
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. These make a great side dish for ham or pork tenderloin.
Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash
Take your basic beef stew to the next level by making this simple, fragrant beef tagine featuring butternut squash. A "tagine" is a cone-shaped cooking vessel commonly used in North Africa. The unique shape allows the meat to slow cook for a luscious, tender texture. You can buy tagines at most cookware stores, or use a heavy-bottom Dutch oven like we do in this recipe.
Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables
Honey amplifies the natural sugars of the caramelized vegetables in this dish. We call for tupelo honey, but you can substitute another medium-color, floral variety, such as dandelion, loosestrife, or orange blossom.
Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Kumquat Marmalade
Kumquats, carrot juice, Dijon mustard, and rice vinegar create a piquant accompaniment for peppered beef tenderloin. Try the kumquat marmalade with pork or chicken as well.
Kumquats’ peak growing season is November through March, so this citrus fruit is ideal for brightening winter dishes. Choose firm kumquats that are bright orange in color; avoid those with a greenish tint. And remember, go ahead and eat the whole thing—skin and all—though you may want to pass on the seeds.
Napa Cabbage and Snow Pea Slaw
A fresh slaw may not seem like winter fare, but serving something crunchy and full of bright flavor is a nice break in the season of soups and casseroles. The winter produce star here is jicama, an edible root that resembles a turnip. It has thin brown skin and crisp, juicy, white flesh that’s mild in flavor (think of a cross between a water chestnut and a pear). To prepare, remove skin with a sharp vegetable peeler, then cut the white flesh into thin strips.
Winter Jeweled Fruit Salad
In Mexico, copas de frutas (fruit cups) are popular street food. They typically consist of fresh fruit sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder and are the inspiration for this jewel-colored fruit salad. Jicama, also known as a Mexican potato or turnip, adds crunch to the salad.
Winter Squash Soufflé and Greens
The big, bold flavor of Swiss chard contrasts superbly with the creamy, buttery taste of the squash soufflé. Visually, the colorful presentation shows that winter’s best produce can be every bit as appealing as summer’s finest.
Seared Sea Scallops with Satsuma, Parsley, and Shallot Salsa
Perfectly seared sea scallops start with a hot cast-iron skillet and are finished with a homemade citrus salsa. The star, winter’s satsuma, are one of the sweetest citrus varieties with a meltingly tender texture. Look for satsumas with firm, tight peels, with no hollow-feeling or dented spots; heavier ones are generally juicier.
Chinese Chicken and Persimmon Lettuce Wraps
Available October through February, persimmons are sometimes compared to apricots or plums in flavor and texture, and when fully ripe have cinnamon, clove, and sweet undertones. As in these fun lettuce wraps, Asian preparations are natural for persimmons. You can also serve individual wraps as appetizers.
Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio
The natural sweetness of blue hubbard squash offsets the slightly bitter flavor of radicchio. Half-and-half adds to the creaminess of this main-dish risotto, but you can use milk as well. If you can't find blue hubbard, buttercup or butternut squash will work fine.
Chickpea and Winter Vegetable Stew
Butternut squash, a combination of root vegetables, and canned chickpeas provide heartiness to this warming winter stew. Harissa, a fiery spice paste used in Moroccan cooking, adds complex flavor. Look for it at Middle Eastern markets.
Winter Salad with Roasted Beets and Citrus Reduction Dressing
Associate Food Editor, Tim Cebula, developed this ultimate winter salad that celebrates the produce of the season. Fresh orange juice, multicolored beets, and—for good measure—some creamy, tangy goat cheese make for a company-worthy salad.
Winter Greens and Potato Casserole
Earthy kale, mustard greens, and potatoes make this hearty dish a comfort on a cold winter night. Provolone cheese offers a nutty, pronounced flavor. Feel free to substitute any kind of cheese you like.
Lentil Soup with Balsamic-Roasted Winter Vegetables
The flavor of this dish improves on the second day, so it's ideal to make in advance. Add the chard just before serving to preserve its color. Stir in a little water when you reheat the soup if it's too thick.
Marsala-Glazed Winter Vegetables
Marsala wine imparts a rich caramel flavor to the vegetables, but you can also use dry sherry. Since winter vegetables can be tough, parboil them before roasting to soften so they'll better absorb the flavors of the seasonings. For the best flavor, use freshly grated nutmeg instead of bottled ground.
Winter Vegetable Soup
Potatoes, acorn squash, and white beans combine for a substantial main-dish soup. Sautéing the vegetables with chopped pancetta adds depth of flavor. Pancetta is Italian cured bacon. If you can't find it, 2 strips of smoked bacon will work.
Orange and Red Onion Salad with Red Pepper
This simple salad is a refreshing start to winter meals. You can garnish with fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley, or serve over arugula or watercress, if desired.
Spiced Beet and Carrot Soup
This soup is tart, just sweet enough, and hearty, though not a protein powerhouse. If you want to pump up the protein, increase the walnuts or serve with a salad of greens, nuts, and goat cheese.
Beef Tenderloin, Swiss Chard, and Caramelized Fennel Tacos
The chard makes a wonderful peppery, lightly bitter complement to the sweet fennel. Look for crema Mexicana in the supermarket dairy section or at ethnic markets, or substitute crème fraîche.
Fizz Kale Salad with Roasted Garlic-Bacon Dressing and Beets
Fizz kale boasts delicate cabbage flavor and hearty crunch. If Fizz is unavailable, the salad will still be delicious using all Lacinato.
Gardener's Pie brings more veggie goodness to the shepherd's pie concept and takes excellent advantage of fresh wintertime veggies.
Cauliflower Soup with Shiitakes
Pureed cauliflower creates a wonderfully creamy soup; meaty shiitakes add textural flair.
Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Anchovy
Broccoli retains all of its flavor and even gains deliciously crisp bits when roasted.
Cabbage with White Beans, Turnip, and Pecorino
Pair this quick side with roast pork or chicken.