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Eating Seasonally—Plated’s Winter Produce Primer

pomegranateWhile winter outside of California can seem like a wasteland for your fruit bowl and vegetable crisper, it’s far from true. Even though cooler temperatures provide fewer seasonal vegetables and fruits than spring or summer, there’s still a bounty of fantastic, versatile winter produce that thrives in the frigid weather, even if we don’t. From tangy citrus to nutrient-rich greens and flavorful roots, winter doesn’t have to mean forgoing salads and fresh fruit.

ROOTS
Celery Root
Also known as Celeriac, this knobbly fiber-filled root vegetable is actually a type of celery grown specifically for its hearty root. This super-versatile veggie tastes like a combination of celery and parsley, and is delicious in a veggie hash, thinly sliced for a salad, or shredded for the French classic celeriac remoulade—just make sure to scrub and peel it before using.

Jicama
This large round tuber root, also known as a yambean, hails from Mexico, and features refreshing, crunchy flesh inside a brown bark-like skin. Best served raw in salads, salsas or crudité plates, jicama is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and packs a potassium punch.

Rutabaga
Though these large, waxy, purple roots may not be the prettiest vegetable out there, rutabagas are very lean and have zero cholesterol. Peel the outside, then roast, mash, or purée for a healthier alternative to potatoes that tastes like a mild turnip.

Sunchokes
Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, these small, brown, knobbly roots possess a nutty, artichoke-like flavor. With a delicate, soft-potato like consistency, they are tasty roasted simply with olive oil, garlic, and salt, or whipped into a purée. Go easy on them, though, they have high levels of inulin, a bloat-inducing carbohydrate.

Turnips
Very high in vitamin C, turnips are a root vegetable that can come in many colors including white, purple, orange, and red. When raw, overcooked or underseasoned, they may be bitter, but roasted with plenty of salt, spices, and a drizzle of olive oil, they are simply delicious. With their edible stems, turnips can also be sautéed and steamed, though we like them best roasted.

citrus_winterproduceFRUITS
Grapefruit
Like oranges and other citrus, grapefruits are one of the bright sparks of the fruit bowl in the cold, winter months. Whether white, pink, or orangey, grapefruits are tangy, sweet, and chock-full of Vitamin C. Though they make an ideal breakfast simply sliced in half, grapefruits are also fabulous brûléed in the oven with sprinkled brown sugar, sliced into segments atop a salad, or squeezed into a cocktail.

Pears
Thin-skinned and, well, pear-shaped, this winter time fruit features a sweet, refreshing flavor and heaps of fiber. Unlike many fruits, pears are harvested before they are ripe, which explains why many are still hard and bitter in the grocery store. Ripen pears at room temperature, then serve in endless variations, including alongside cheese, baked into desserts—or on their own with plenty of napkins.

Pomegranates
These round, shell-like fruits, filled with juicy red kernels called “arils,” were first found in Iran and Northern India before being cultivated throughout the Mediterranean. Pomegranates are known for their antioxidant properties and high levels of fiber and vitamins. Sprinkle tangy arils onto a salad or use their juice in cocktails, dressings, and sauces.

Quince
Yellow on the outside, with a misshapen, pear-like appearance, quince is completely inedible when raw, so don’t even try. When sliced and stewed with water or wine, it becomes succulent and sweet, perfect in tarts and cakes, on top of yogurt, or in membrillo, a Spanish paste served with cheese.

kale_pantryGREENS
Cabbage
This round head of leafy greens comes in many varieties from veiny and purplish-red to thin-skinned green and crunchy white. With lots of antioxidants and Vitamin C, cabbage can be served cooked or raw, depending on the variety. Stew red cabbage in red wine for a hearty side dish, or thinly shred Napa cabbage into a slaw. Savoy cabbage is best served cooked, whether stuffed with meat or sautéed with butter.

Escarole
Escarole, a variety of endive packed with fiber and Vitamins A and K, is often found in Italian cuisine. With a pleasantly bitter taste, the green and white leaves are very versatile, and particularly tasty tossed with a garlicky dressing or chopped into soup.

Kale
This curly, leafy green has experienced widespread popularity in the past few years, thanks to its massive amounts of nutrients and protein. There are myriad ways of using the robust leaves, like raw in salads, braised as a side dish or sautéed with eggs for a hearty, healthy frittata.

Mustard Greens
Pungent and peppery, mustard greens feature large leaves with curly edges and a serious hit of flavor. They’re used often in Asian, Indian, and Southern cuisine and most commonly served cooked, whether boiled, braised, sautéed, or wilted. While you can eat them raw, we advise small doses, as the flavor can be overpowering.

Swiss Chard
With its large green leaves and gorgeous multi-colored stems, Swiss chard is one of the most beautiful and nutritious roughage varieties out there. Full of antioxidants and calcium, Swiss chard is equally tasty sautéed, chopped for a salad, or baked into a savory tart or pizza.

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