The freshness of the summer market lingers on my palate as we slowly transition into winter. As I reluctantly let go of sun-ripened tomatoes and delicate salad greens, I reach for winter sustenance.
Summer is a time for letting it all hang out, like a garden filled with wispily waving fennel, nasturtiums sluicing through open channels in rapids of color, and trellised vines of sugar snap peas. Winter, however, is about finding one’s grounding again, seeking the concentrated energy to be found inward.
“Grounding” and “concentrated” are words that easily apply to the abundance of root vegetables available during winter. But root vegetables aren’t the only things available: hearty greens and squash are eager to provide us with the diverse nutrients needed to maintain our health and good cheer during the winter months.
A quick look at my availability chart shows me the wonderful array of vegetables that are waiting here at winter’s doorstep: Sweet potatoes, onions, cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, shallots, butternut and other squashes, potatoes, garlic, broccoli, leeks, kale, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin—winter is far from drab and gray!
Also, when I consider the easy access I have to dried beans and grains, as well as cultured foods like tempeh, I realize just how abundant and vibrant my winter will be.
In some ways, cooking in the winter is much simpler than in the summer. Baking a sweet potato is about the easiest thing one can do. As the sweet potato finishes, I simmer a bit of quinoa. Above the simmering quinoa, I place my bamboo steamer, into which I’ve tossed a handful of chopped kale. When I plate this tasty trio, I supercharge their highly nutritious state by drizzling on a little flax oil and some nutritional yeast. A meal could hardly be more simple, satisfying, or whole.
The following recipes were developed around produce that is available fresh during the winter, as well as dried beans and grains. They are quite simple to prepare, and being simple, they are also flexible. If the recipe calls for carrots, feel free to use parsnips. Don’t want mashed potatoes on the Shepherd’s Pie? No problem, use sweet potatoes.
Sometimes we rely too much on heavy foods during the winter, simply because they feel so good and warming. Don’t forget, however, to include hearty helpings of leafy greens. The Winter Greens Salad is a perfect way to balance a meal.
Mushroom and Barley Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Herbs d’Provence
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup barley
1/2 cup lentils
1 teaspoon sea salt
Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms until they give up their liquid, about 10 minutes. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add carrots, garlic, herbs, and black pepper, and sauté until carrots are soft.
Add vegetable stock, and barley. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower flame and simmer for 25 minutes.
Add lentils and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until lentils are done.
Add sea salt and remove from heat.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fennel
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 fennel bulb
4 shallots, quartered
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oven to 425°.
Trim ends of Brussels sprouts and remove outer layer of leaves. Slice in half through the base and place in mixing bowl.
Trim end of fennel bulb, and remove outer layers if blemished. Cut ¼” thick slices, perpendicular to the root, up to the green stalks. Place in bowl with Brussels sprouts.
Add shallots, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Toss well.
Place in 2 quart casserole dish. Roast uncovered at 425° for 25 minutes. Toss, cover, and roast for 25 minutes more.
Winter Greens Salad
4 collard leaves, chopped
4 lacinato kale leaves, chopped
8 red kale leaves, chopped
4 Napa cabbage leaves, chiffonade
3/4 cup carrot, shredded
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup raisins
In wok or skillet over high heat, wilt the collard and kale in a small amount of water. Do not cook completely.
Mix cooked greens with Napa cabbage, carrot, pumpkin seeds, and raisins.
Toss with Pomegranate Vinaigrette (recipe below) and serve.
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons agave nectar (optional)
1 pinch sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Place garlic, shallot, pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, and sea salt in blender. Blend till fully homogenized.
Add olive oil and blend until emulsified.
3/4 pound potato
1 small onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
1/4 pound parsnip or carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound tempeh, crumbled
2 cups vegetable stock (divided use)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can also use any gluten-free flour)
Heat oven to 450°.
Place whole, unpeeled potatoes and onion on a baking sheet. Put in oven and roast till potatoes are soft.
Peel and dice onion, and place in large bowl with the potatoes.
Add olive oil, non-dairy milk, sea salt, and pepper. Mash potatoes thoroughly and set aside. (If smoother, whipped potatoes are desired, use electric mixer.)
Lower oven to 350°.
Warm a large skillet over a medium flame. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then the mushrooms. Sauté till the mushrooms give up their liquid, about 10 minutes.
Add onion, parsnip or carrot, garlic, herbs, and black pepper. Sauté till onions are soft.
Add tempeh and sauté for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Simmer over low heat till stock is evaporated.
Add flour and mix well. Pour in remaining stock and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, till gravy forms.
Place vegetable mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top.
Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes.