It is oft-given health advice that we should try and eat seasonally when possible, which is fine in spring and summer when produce is varied and plentiful, but in winter it is slimmer pickings. And let’s face it, brassicas, such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, and root vegetables need a little more TLC to turn them into something truly delicious.
But, boy, is it worth it. Not only are these veggies some of the healthiest on the planet – the vibrant colours are an indication of the precious antioxidants they contain – their more robust nature means they can take a bit of roasting or pickling to bring out their natural flavours. So here are three tasty ways with winter veg...
There is no better way to prepare root veggies than to roast them: just scrub them, roughly chop, coat with olive oil, season, whack them in the oven and you’ve got the most delicious vegetable side dish. When cooled, they are perfect as the base for a hearty salad.
To take your roasted veg to the next level, make this version with feta and mint. Peel and roughly chop 1kg of root veg (carrots, sweet potato and beetroot work well) and 2 large red onions. Place in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil, toss well and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 45 minutes at 200C giving it all a good stir halfway through. Dress the roasted veg with a mixture of 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar. Sprinkle over a small handful of chopped mint leaves and 100g crumbled feta.
Thinly slicing winter vegetables, such as onions, cabbage and carrots, in the food processor is a time-saving way to prepare them. Simply dress with a mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar to make a quick, tangy slaw, the ideal accompaniment to grilled meat and fish.
If you are never quite sure what to do with Brussels sprouts, try making this zingy, shredded sprout salad, perfect alongside cold cuts. In a small, hot frying pan toast 10g pine nuts for a few minutes, tossing occasionally to brown evenly. Zest ½ a lemon with a fine grater and set aside.
Clean and slice 250g sprouts very thinly, again use a food processor if you have one. Place the sprouts in a serving bowl with a small handful of finely chopped sage. Mix together 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp honey, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper and pour over the sprouts and sage. Toss well to combine.
Just before serving, top with 25g grated Parmesan cheese and garnish with the lemon zest and toasted pine nuts.
If you have a cabbage lurking in the fridge that needs dealing with, why not try pickling it? Fermented foods, such as pickles, are packed full of good bacteria that support the health of your gut microbiome, which studies show is crucial for our overall health.
Try this recipe to make a very simple spiced red cabbage pickle that will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Place the following ingredients in a large saucepan: 1 small thinly sliced red cabbage, 1 thinly sliced red onion, 100g raisins, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 star anise, 5 crushed cardamom pods, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper and 200ml water.
Bring to a boil then gently simmer for 30 minutes until most, but not all, of the moisture has evaporated. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.