For many people, the idea of eating seasonally is a brilliant idea. That is until the colder months roll along. After all, there’s a spectacular amount of produce available to be played with from early spring to mid autumn, but once Halloween passes, the culinary palette seems to be comprised of a few scant offerings. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Root vegetables, brassicas, winter greens, and hard-fleshed fruit can be fabulous when paired the right way. Below are a few ideas for using seasonal produce to its greatest potential.
Cabbage and Ramen Noodle Salad
This salad may sound a bit weird, but the flavors all combine gorgeously into a fun, crunchy autumn/winter dish.
- 1 head of napa cabbage, shredded finely
- 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 package of ramen noodles, broken up into small pieces
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
Blend the cabbage and green onions in a large bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a large skillet, melt the butter or margarine on medium-high heat, and toss in the ramen noodles and almonds. Use a spatula to turn this mixture often, and remove your pan from the heat once the majority of it has been browned. Set aside.
For the dressing, heat the vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce in a small pot on medium-high heat. Allow it to boil for about a minute, then set aside to allow it to cool for a bit. Combine the cabbage and ramen-nut mixture with a set of salad tongs, and mix the dressing into it just before serving so it doesn’t get soggy.
Root Veggie Chips
Take a quick jaunt over to Amy’s Cooking Adventures for an incredible tutorial on how to make perfect root vegetable chips. These are great alternatives to chips for scooping up your favorite dips, and if you use veggies like watermelon radish, heirloom carrots, and a bunch of different beets, you’ll have a veritable rainbow of snacks to nibble. I like to spice mine up with cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion salt, but they’re delightful plain as well.
Stems and Roots Slaw
You can use whatever root vegetables you have in the house for this, and adapt it to your own tastes. I like to add in grated apple on occasion, or switch out the lemon juice with orange instead. Sometimes I’ll even throw in toasted nuts and dried cranberries. Be creative!
- 2 carrots (different colors, if available), julienned
- 1 bulb fennel, shredded
- 2 radishes (if you can get 2 different colors, all the better), grated or julienned
- 1 golden beet, grated
- 2 broccoli stems, peeled and julienned
- 1/2 small celeriac root, peeled and julienned
- 1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 cup plain yogurt (dairy or soy)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Combine all the shredded vegetables into a large bowl.
Blend the yogurt , lemon juice, and mustard together and pour over the vegetables, tossing the lot to combine it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Now, this isn’t so much a recipe as a basic idea that you can add to with whatever suits your own whims. I usually use one sweet potato per person eating, and fill with a variety of different bits, depending on what I have in the house. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Poke a few holes in your sweet potatoes, and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender. You can also cook your potatoes in the microwave for 10 to 15 minutes or until soft, but since I haven’t had a microwave in over a decade, I can’t vouch for this method. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, slice a piece off the top lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh so you have a nice big bowl to fill up.
At this point, I generally use a bit of what I’ve scooped out as part of the filling that’ll go back in (the rest goes into soups and such). I like to create a spicy, smoky black bean veggie chili, into which I pop some of the sweet potato and a bit of cooked quinoa. That gets ladled into the potato shells, topped with cubed avocado, corn salsa, and a dollop of plain yogurt.