Winter isn’t the end to fresh food; these veggies are in season in December
Experienced chefs and students taking online cooking classes alike rely on the flavors and textures of fresh produce. When cold weather hits, however, it can become difficult to obtain your standby ingredients. Fortunately, there are plenty of amazing vegetables that are still readily available in December.
Try these ideas for making the best use of winter produce this year:
Pair roasted Brussels sprouts and shallots
“Roasting Brussels sprouts at high heat is the key to unlocking sweet flavors.”
Roasting Brussels sprouts at high heat is the key to unlocking sweet flavors, caramelizing their exteriors. When combined with shallots and balsamic vinegar, as in this recipe from Serious Eats, the result is an exceptionally satisfying winter side dish. You’ll need about three pounds of sprouts, approximately 1.5 inches in diameter.
Heat a pair of heavy-rimmed baking sheets in an oven set to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, one on each of the top two racks. Meanwhile, trim the bottoms of the sprouts, removing the outer leaves, and then cut them into halves. Place in a bowl and toss with thinly sliced shallots, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Remove the baking sheets from the oven and split up the sprouts mixture between them. Place the pans back in the oven. About 10 minutes later, toss the sprouts, rotate the sheets and trade the pans between racks.
After a total of 20 minutes in the oven, the Brussels sprouts should be nicely charred and tender. Remove from heat and pour on two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Add more salt and pepper to taste and then serve.
Warm up with a classic potato leek soup
When temperatures dip below freezing, it’s the perfect time for a hot bowl of soup. Once Upon a Chef demonstrated a time-honored way of using winter produce with directions for potato leek soup.
First, melt three tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat. Add chopped leeks – only the white and light green parts – and three smashed cloves of garlic. Stir frequently as you cook for 10 minutes, watching for the leeks to wilt and become soft.
Add two pounds of chopped and peeled Yukon Gold potatoes with chicken or vegetable stock, bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, remove the bay leaves and thyme before using a blender to puree the other ingredients.
Once the soup is smooth, pour in a cup of heavy cream and heat to a simmer. If the soup looks too thin, keep on the heat until it thickens, or if it’s too thick, add in more stock. Finish it off by adding more salt or pepper as necessary.
Incorporate mushrooms and spinach into a hearty meal
Mushrooms and spinach are versatile ingredients that are easy to find year-round. The Recipe Critic included both in a creamy chicken dish that makes a great weeknight dinner.
Thinly slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts and place in a skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Cook for three to five minutes and then transfer to a plate. Add sliced mushrooms to the skillet, cooking until tender and then setting them aside.
Melt a quarter-cup of butter, adding two minced cloves of garlic. Whisk in flour, followed by chicken broth, heavy cream, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Throw in a cup of chopped spinach, simmering until the sauce thickens. Then, stir the chicken and mushrooms into the sauce and serve over pasta.