It’s easy to eat seasonally in the summer when the Greenmarkets burst with bushels of ripe fruits and veggies–blackberries, basil and sweet corn galore, why wouldn’t you want to eat seasonally?
In winter however, it’s a little trickier. For starters, there’s less produce growing, but even so, it’s important to try and eat seasonally year round.
When you buy what’s locally in season, you are aiding the environment by cutting down on the amount of fuel otherwise needed to transport your food to you. Plus, it’s guaranteed that anything you buy seasonally will be tastier and fresher than the overpriced, out-of-season produce flown into your grocery store from halfway across the globe. To help you eat more seasonally this winter, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite in-season produce available in the New York area.
Oh, potatoes. This is probably the most obvious winter food, but be careful not to write these classic staples off as boring. Potatoes are like the eggs of the root-vegetable family – you can cook them in just about anyway imaginable. Bake them, boil them, or mash them up. Chop and roast them with olive oil and lots of dried herbs (rosemary! thyme!) or simply throw them in a skillet for some morning hash browns. And when you start tiring of that starchy, potato taste don’t forget that sweet potatoes exist too (not just at Thanksgiving).
Beets are definitely the hidden gems of the root vegetable kingdom. On the outside they may look like any other, but cut them open and you’ll find a beautifully pink treat with a mellow, sweet flavor. You can do anything from roasting to pickling with them, but we like them best raw. They’re naturally sugary and crisp and will add a wonderful pop to any salad (especially if there’s goat cheese involved).
Thankfully, for us, it turns out that some green foods grow in the winter too. Leeks tend to take the back burner in the kitchen because they’re usually compliments to so many other foods (pork, chicken, and salmon). But don’t despair if you somehow end up with a bunch of leeks and have no recipe ideas. Let them take the spotlight with some easy braising: simply fill a skillet about 1/4 of the way with vegetable broth and simmer the leeks (covered) for about 15 minutes for a delicious side dish.
4. Winter Squash
You’ve probably seen squash like these lying around as autumnal decorations, but they make delicious winter pantry staples as well. You might buy an acorn squash and have a “what-in-the-world-do-I-do-with-this?” moment. In reality though, this is probably the easiest item to cook on our list. Simply cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake it. Coat the inside with butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup before sticking it in the oven and you’ll practically be eating dessert for dinner.
Last but not least, it’s important to remember that there are some seasonal fruits out there as well. Often times we tend to think of citrus as the go-to winter fruit group, but these pears can be harvested a bit closer to home. The great thing about pears is that they couple well with all of the warm fall spices–think cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves–so spice up your baking with pears this winter. The options are endless. Or you can always just substitute pears for apples in our Cider Sangria.
This winter challenge yourself to eat as seasonally as you can! It’s better for the environment, your community, the quality of your food and your wallet so you can enjoy your meals and know you’re doing your part.