Winter is here, cold days and long nights. A time for warming comfort food; hot pots, roasts and plenty of soup. Luckily Britain has a great selection of vegetables available over the winter, so you can still get a good variety of flavours and vitamins on your plate.
Hardy root vegetables and squashes are both great ingredients in winter dishes, their sweetness welcome and they are generally high in Vitamin C. Pumpkins and squash are fabulous in sweet or savoury dishes and make the perfect soup. Carrots and beetroot add great colour and are good for slow cooking – either roasting or in curries, hot pots and tagines. Parsnips, swedes and celeriac all make a great alternative to potatoes, either mashed, boiled or as chunky oven roasted chips. If you find it in the market, give Jerusalem artichokes a try. Looking like rather ugly potatoes, you don’t see them around too often, but they have a superb flavour and also make a great soup.
The allium family (onions, garlic and leeks) are another good source of vitamin C. All sweeten when cooked slowly, so cook over a low heat, allowing them to sweat to get the most out of their flavour. They are usually combined with other vegetables but a whole, slow cooked onion is an absolute treat! Steam until really soft so it melts in the mouth.
Brassicas (cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli as well as the often unloved Brussel Sprout) are perfect through the winter. Just steaming or boiling, they can be a little bland, so try jazzing up by roasting with other flavours; cauliflower with harissa and nuts, Brussel Sprouts with chestnuts (also in season) and pomegranate molasses, broccoli thinly sliced and pan fried with chilli and almonds. You can also try making sauerkraut with cabbages – fermented foods are incredibly good for the gut, full of probiotics, and will last you right through the winter.
There are limited British fruits available at this time of year – apples and pears are the main staple. When you need something sweet and warming, both are good baked or poached as they soak up loads of flavours. Of course, they are also wonderful in crumbles and pies or baked into cakes and muffins too. Blood oranges, whilst not native to Britain, are widely available from Europe in the winter and are excellent in spiced dishes or to jazz up rice pudding.
Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbages (Savoy, red and white), Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Celeriac, Chestnuts, Field Mushrooms, Garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Squashes, Swede, Sweet potatoes, Turnips
Apples, Pears, Quinces, Sloes