Winter vegetables: what to do with them?

I love winter vegetables. My favorites are all kinds of winter squash, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. And I guess beets although I’m only slowly falling in love with beets. I also love chard, spinach, celery, carrots although these hardly seem like winter vegetables any more, so easily purchased year-round. Oh and parsnips! I really like the peppery flavor of parsnips. I could go on (I didn’t even mention sweet potatoes or regular potatoes for that matter) but what you really want to know is what to do with them, right?

First let’s talk about storage. Here I turn to my beloved CSA, Boistfort Valley Farm and their excellent storage tips page. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips, beets, and carrots can all be stored in a loose bag in the fridge and will last at least a week or more. Kale, chard, and spinach need to be wrapped in a paper towel and then stored in a closed plastic bag in the fridge and will also last about a week. Winter squash needs to be kept somewhere dark and dry and may store for months. Some people have root cellars for storing winter squash and root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, beets and potatoes are root vegetables). Sadly, I do not have a root cellar. So my fridge is packed, seriously packed with winter vegetables right now.

I’m going to give you recipes for a sweet and yummy kale dish, a spicy squash soup that I just discovered and my favorite beet dish. Before I do that though, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how fabulously good for you these vegetables are. All of the winter vegetables listed above are super good for you but kale is a nutrional power house. It is rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium. The nutrients in it can help fight cancer and control inflammatory illnesses, as well as strengthen the immune system. Winter squash varieties have high levels of carotenes, vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin B5, folic acid, potassium and fiber. They can help protect the body from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The root part of the beet is very good for preventing heart disease, very high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, manganese, and magnesium. In addition, the root also has very good levels of potassium. Beet greens (the tops) are also an excellent source of carotenoids, flavonoid anti-oxidants, and vitamin A and actually contain several times more than in the roots.

The simplest and sometimes the most delicious way to eat winter vegetables is simply to rub them with olive oil. put them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven at 375 to roast until lightly brown. This brings out a nutty yummy flavor and is my favorite way to eat cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips. Also super easy is to take the green leafy vegetables like chard, spinach and kale and remove the tough rib/stem, chop them up and sauté them in olive oil and garlic. A little sea salt on both of these methods at the end and they are delicious just like that. Now here are a few more complicated, more gourmet, and definitely tasty ways to eat your winter veg.

Kale with Sauteed Apple and Onion
Gourmet, December 200


Granny Smith apple
 (I’ve used many varieties of apple)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon
curry powder
1 lb kale, tough stems and ribs removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup broth
1/4 cup apple cider

Peel, quarter, and core apple, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges.

Heat oil in a 5-quart pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add apple and curry powder and sauté, stirring, until apple is almost tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan.

Add kale, broth and cider to pan.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender and most of liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Season with salt.

Curried Winter Squash and Chicken Stew
From: Seward Co-op Grocery and Deli, Minneapolis, MN

1 pound boneless chicken breast, diced
2 cups yellow onion, diced (1 large)
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2-2 cups chicken stock
1 (12-ounce) can coconut milk
2 medium red potatoes, washed and diced
1 large butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

In a large (4 1/2-quart) pot, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add chicken and cook until onion is translucent.
Add curry powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Cook for 1 minute.
Add stock, coconut milk, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring slowly.

Cover and simmer until potatoes and squash are just fork tender.
Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Beets and Carmelized Onions with Feta
Adapted from Gourmet, September 2003 (from

1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (preferably whole-grain or coarse-grain)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb onions (one medium), quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch small whole beets, scrubbed and trimmed to leave 1 inch of stem
2 oz crumbled feta (about 1/3 cup)
1/8 cup pine nuts (1 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add 1 tablespoon oil, whisking until combined well.

Boil beets until tender when pierced with a fork in a medium sized pot of water. Check occasionally that the water level covers the beets, this will take a while, about the same amount of time as the onions will take to carmelize. Drain and when cool enough to handle, slip the skins off and set aside. If the beets are small, leave whole, if large, cut into wedges or chunks.

Meanwhile cook onions with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add onions to dressing, then add beets and cheese, stirring gently to combine. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts.


To your health,

Laren Watson
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Ethan,Young - January 23, 2013

It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people in this particular subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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