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Culinarily Curious: Welcome winter with these in-season veggies

Posted by Alex Pearlman  December 19, 2011 06:21 PM

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broccoli.jpgBy Anthony Howard

It’s amazing how nature supplies us with just what we need. This time of year, with the short days and plummeting temperatures, our bodies crave warming foods. You can keep your body in tune with nature by eating what’s in season in Massachusetts over the winter.

While you won’t find the same bounty as in the summer, when fruits and vegetables of all types grace the stands of your local farmers' markets, look for these hardy, edible wonders that actually taste better the colder the weather gets.

Beets. They’re in season fall ‘til spring. You get an added bonus with this veggie: The green tops are edible and can be sauteed for another meal.

Broccoli. This guy can actually be grown year-round, but, like other cruciferous vegetables, the cold New England air makes it sweeter.

Brussels Sprouts. When I was a kid, I absolutely hated Brussels sprouts. Now, I can’t get enough of them. Look for sprouts with the stalks attached, as they will keep much longer.

Cabbage. Making a New England boiled dinner soon? Pick up a local cabbage for your meal. The longer it cooks, the sweeter it gets (until you overcook it).

Fennel. ‘Tis the season for this root veggie. Don’t buy fennel in the spring; the warmer weather makes it taste very bitter.

Kale. A cruciferious vegetable just like broccoli, so the cold weather keeps it sweeter.

Leeks. What is that flavor?! Is it an onion? Is it garlic? Nope, it’s leek! It goes great in soups, and it’s ready to eat now.

Parsnips. This delicious root veggie looks similar to a carrot, except it has a tan flesh and white body. Look for the smaller, thin parsnips over the big guys.

Sweet Potatoes. What would dinner be like without that wonderful sweet and nutty flavor of the sweet potato?

Instead of digging through your local grocery store's produce section for these winter delights, head to one of the Boston/Cambridge area's four winter farmers' markets and pick up some truly local veggies:

The availability at each market will depend on what the farmers are actually growing this year and what type of season they've had, but no matter what you find, these vegetables and the foods you make with them are sure to warm your body and soul throughout the dark, bleak winter.

What are some of your favorite winter foods?

'Culinarily Curious' is TNGG Boston's column on all things food, written by Anthony Howard.

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About Anthony -- I'm a 22-year-old Massachusetts native -- grew up in the 'burbs and now spend my young adult life in the city. I am passionate about cooking and currently assistant manage a restaurant kitchen in Kendall Square. Let's just say that when I invite friends over for dinner parties, no one ever turns me down.

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