Yes winter is here. Yes the shortest day of the year is almost upon us. But thankfully after that, things can only get better…or that’s what I like to think.
As it’s too cold for most fruit and vegetables to grow outdoors in winter, winter food used to consist mostly of what you managed to store and preserve from the summer and autumn harvests. These days, greenhouses and food freight means that fresh food from all seasons is available right into the depths of winter, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Eating fresh strawberries in winter seems on par with eating braised red cabbage or a heavy stew in summer.
Now is the time to indulge in hearty, comfort-food that makes the most of the beautiful winter produce that is in season now, and explore every variation of cooking with these ingredients – likely with some form of cheese. And enjoy that second helping of stew while it’s still cold enough.
Plentiful: Indulge in root vegetables of all kinds! Potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, celeriac, beetroot, swedes, turnips. Perfect for roasting and mashing, soups, stews and other heart warming dishes. Leeks are always a winner in winter as is cauliflower, and don’t let the look or reputation of Jerusalem artichokes deter you yet again!
Cabbages are part of the exclusive club of vegetables that cope wonderfully well outside in the cold. All those cabbage dishes you were waiting to try? Now is the time. Look for beautiful, shiny, squeaky cabbages: white, red, savoy, and pointed are the most common.
Have a nut feast and buy nuts whole in their shell: hazelnuts, walnuts or chestnuts for example.
Winter is the time for stewed, baked or poached fruit: pears, apples or quinces are perfect for the job, stewed with spices and a dash of something boozy. And better still, blanketed with a layer of crunchy, buttery crumble.