Your Seasonal Produce Guide: Winter
Winter is known for preserves. Canned vegetables, jars of pickles and jams, and dried beans are a great way to keep your cold-weather meals tasty and nutritious! Don't discount fresh winter veggies, though; light frosts make produce even sweeter. Here in the South, there are plenty of in-season, fresh vegetables coming to their peak in December, January and February.
Dark, leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses. “Trendy” greens like kale, or a traditional Southern favorite, collard greens, can work their way into many dishes and provide folate, Vitamin C, potassium and more! These hardy greens have a slightly tough texture and bitter taste. They’re great slowly braised in vinegars until tender, or thinly sliced and served raw with a sweet accompaniment, like peanut butter or sorghum. Popular hardy greens in Georgia include:
Kale- Kale isn’t just a fad; it’s been on the menu since the Middle Ages. Numerous varieties of kale grow well in the South, from classic green to dinosaur kale.
Mustard Greens- Mustard greens are harvested from mustard plants. Like the spice, these leaves have a bit of kick to them.
Collard Greens- Collard greens and black-eyed peas is a New Year’s classic. Collards are typically stewed down with pork, though vegetarians can use seasoned or smoked salts to achieve a similar flavor profile.
Atlanta enjoys frosty winter morns, but our warmer clime is generally pretty kind to fresh lettuces, year-round. A simple side salad is a great way to break out of any seasonal doldrums, especially since winter lettuces tend to be peppery and lively.
Arugula-Arugula is tender, with a strong spicy bite. This vitamin-rich green is delicious in a salad, but substantial enough to enjoy lightly wilted.
Spinach- Spinach is a culinary favorite. It’s slightly grassy flavor lends balance to salads. Cooked, it’s a popular addition to pastas, quiches, soups and more. To “florentine” a dish, simply add spinach!
Spicy mix- Spicy mix is a beloved lettuce blend from our local farmers. True to its name, this blend has some peppery heat; arugula is a common inclusion.
Thick-skinned squashes look as tough as can be, until you enjoy them slow-roasted or simmered in a soup. A little heat unlocks sweet flavors and a bit more flavor intensity than their summertime counterparts. Winter squashes are great sources of Vitamins A & C. As a bonus, you can roast their seeds (it’s not just for pumpkins) for a fun, anytime snack!
Acorn squash- Acorn squash is named for its petite shape. This squash is mild and sweet, and has a hollow center perfect for stuffed dishes.
Butternut squash- Butternut squash is well-named - It’s flesh is buttery and tender, and it has a sweet and nutty flavor. The squash’s pale skin belies vibrant orange color within.
Delicata Squash- Named for its soft "delicate" skin, the rind and all may be eaten when steamed, roasted, or stuffed and baked.
Root vegetables abound in wintertime, and are total comfort foods (and are a bit more healthful than your typical holiday season dishes). Root vegetables are diverse, too; you can enjoy them roasted, mashed, simmered, boiled, or even raw. Beets, turnips and radishes make some of the prettiest salads, adding color to your winter palette.
Turnip- Turnips are crunchy and mild, and play well with other vegetables (ever blended turnips in your mashed potatoes?). Turnip greens, the leafy tops, can be reserved to use in other dishes, giving you the most bang for your buck.
Beets- Beets are deeply nutritious and colorful. They are even used to make organic dyes! Beets are one of the few root vegetables that you really should peel- their peel tends to be tough and holds a bit of dirt.
Sweet potato- Sweet potatoes are a Southern favorite, especially in the holiday season. These potatoes have a higher natural sugar content than white potatoes, so they roast and caramelize beautifully.
Kohlrabi- Kohlrabi isn’t native to North America, but it grows wonderfully in the South! It cooks up just like turnips and radishes, and can be shredded to make a fun mid-winter slaw.
Carrot- Carrots are one of the ingredients in mirepoix- the French base for cooking. Their sweet, earthy flavor balances a number of dishes. Of course, raw carrots are a delicious snack!
Other Cruciferous Veggies
Cruciferous is king of the cold weather. The cruciferous, or brassica, family of vegetables includes many greens and root vegetables. Dietary guidelines recommend you enjoy 1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups of dark green vegetables each week, for cardiovascular health and general wellness. These vegetables contain glucosinolates, which give spicy flavors and an occasionally pungent aroma. More well-known members of this family are:
Brussels sprouts- Brussels sprouts are named for their fabled place of origin, near Belgium. At first glance, brussels sprouts look like bite-size cabbages, but they have a distinct flavor. They get a bad reputation, but are quite delicious (just don’t overcook them)!
Cabbage- Cabbage’s large leaves make beautiful rolls. This leafy vegetable is very dense and tightly packed, so it’s a great choice for feeding a crowd.
Broccoli- Broccoli is known for its tasty florets that are delicious raw or cooked. The majority of this plant is too tough to eat, making it a difficult sell for small farmers.
Cauliflower- Cauliflower has enjoyed a lot of recent popularity. Its white florets are tightly packed, and can be broken down to resemble rice! Cauliflower is a tasty and versatile choice for low-carb eaters.
Because we collaborate with our local farmers who harvest and deliver their produce just days before it arrives on your doorstep, you'll find the only the most seasonal fresh ingredients in your meal kits! Enjoying a year-round variety of produce is both delicious and exciting (and healthful, too!) Check out what we're cooking with on our weekly Menu.
Already excited for next season's goodies?