Guide to Winter Vegetables
J Thoendell stashed this in Food
Carrot: You are probably familiar with the carrot. The peel is perfectly edible, though you’ll want to wash it well. One of the sweetest root vegetables, it’s often paired with other sweet things, like dried fruit, which I don’t really agree with. I think it’s better as the sweet component to more savory things, especially spices; ginger, cumin, and dried chile are my favorites.
Beet: Really, really good raw. About the same texture as carrot, pretty light as far as root vegetables go and doesn’t require marinating (though you certainly can). The peel is not very palatable, so get it off with a sharp knife. All varieties of beet can be eaten raw, and all are prettier when raw than cooked (especially the candy-striped chioggia beet). Like carrots, beets are extremely sweet and pair well with dairy, herbs, and vinegars.
Celeriac: One of the toughest and most intimidating of the root vegetables, celeriac is a variety of celery (not the root of your normal supermarket celery, but similar) cultivated for its root. It looks like it should be sitting on the shelf of a dusty apothecary. Cut off the entire gnarled bottom—don’t worry too much about waste, celeriac is really cheap—and then peel with a knife the same way you did the beet. Celeriac is a weird magic vegetable, with a distinct delicate celery-ish flavor that’s somehow sweeter and more aromatic than celery. Usually found raw in a classic French salad with mayonnaise.
Kohlrabi: Looks like an alien pancreas. It’s in the brassica family, along with broccoli and cabbage and like pretty much every other vegetable, and tastes like it. Available in a few different colors but it’s sort of misleading because the skin is extremely fibrous and not very palatable. Peel the same way you would a beet or celeriac, but don’t discard the stems and leaves; the whole thing is edible and the stems and leaves are really good in a stir-fry. Tastes basically like broccoli stems.
Sunchoke: Also known as the Jerusalem artichoke, this little guy looks kind of like ginger, but it’s actually a relative of the sunflower that’s native to the Northeast. One of the most flavorful roots on this list, it’s kind of nutty and very crisp, almost like an apple. It can cause farts, which is fun. One English farmer, upon coming to America, said: “which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.” Haha! But also I don’t find them to be that farty. And they’re delicious.
Turnip: One of my least favorite vegetables to roast but one of my favorites to serve raw. It’s somewhere between a radish and a carrot: sweet, mild, with a touch of spiciness. Goes well with cured meats and mustards.
Winter squash: It’s rarely done and I have no idea why! Butternut squash is one of my least favorite vegetables when roasted, but raw, it has a fruit-level (I know it’s technically a fruit but you get what I mean) amount of sweetness, and a really nice crisp texture, though softer than the root vegetables on this list. Goes especially well with nuts and seeds, I think.
Rutabaga: Like a turnip but tougher. I also have a hard time finding young, fresh rutabagas; usually they’re enormous mature ones, which are not very good raw.
Parsnip: Honestly? Don’t bother. The parsnip is edible when raw but is starchy and flavorless unless you get the smallest, most delicate ones. Even then it tastes like a carrot that’s had the flavor vampired out of it.
Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes: Potatoes are not actually related to sweet potatoes at all but my advice in this case is the same for both: do not eat raw. Both have various chemicals that make eating them raw unpleasant or even unhealthy.
These are the vegetables that make me steer clear of CSA boxes, I should be braver and expand my choices ;)
Yes! Be braver! Certainly some of these vegetables appeal to you?