Let’s face it. When winter comes, the land goes into a veritable hibernation and opportunities for fresh foods seem to be at a seasonal standstill. But although our gardens may not runneth over, there is still a bounty of harvest to be found.
When I was a little girl, I would go down into the root cellar of my grandparents’ old country house in Maine to get carrots, potatoes and other veggies they were storing for the cold season. Back in the old days, root cellars were a wintertime food-storage necessity as they would help preserve the harvest through the barren winter months. These days most of us head out to the market instead of down to the root cellar, but the selection remains the same: beets, celery root, winter squash, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, onions, garlic, turnips. Now is the perfect time to use all those hearty veggies that winter so well, and here are some ways to do it.
Roasted beet salad: Peel and slice beets, then drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast them at 350 degrees until tender. Serve your roasted beets over salad greens with red onion slices, crumbled goat cheese, and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
Carrot ginger soup: Peel and chop carrots, then put them into sauce pot with a nob of ginger that’s been peeled and sliced. Cover with broth and simmer until tender. Puree until smooth.
Parsnips with garlic and thyme: Peel parsnips and quarter them lengthwise. Toss the parsnips with olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, and fresh thyme. Roast parsnips at 350 degrees until tender and beginning to caramelize on the edges.
Celery root mash: Peel and chop celery root along with some potatoes. Put the chopped veggies in a sauce pot, cover with cold water, bring to boil then simmer until fork tender. Drain your veggies. Return them to the pot, add a couple tablespoons cream cheese (optional), chopped parsley and minced garlic, and mash.
Spaghetti (squash) and meatballs: Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast squash at 350 degrees until tender. Scrap the flesh into strands with a fork and serve with meatballs and sauce.
Warm cabbage slaw: Crisp a few slices of bacon in a large sauté pan, then remove, crumble, and set aside. Add a drizzle of olive oil to bacon grease then whisk in a squirt of dijon and splash of apple cider vinegar. Add thinly sliced cabbage and onion to the pan. Sauté quickly until the veggies are just beginning to wilt. Top with crumbled bacon.
Beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 7, the New Canaan Nature Center, in collaboration with the New Canaan Farmer’s Market, will host a four-week pilot winter market on Tuesdays from noon to 3 p.m. So, head to the market, stock up your root cellar (I call mine a “garage”) with winter’s bounty, and hibernate in health!