Just because the farmers’ markets are closed for winter doesn’t mean we have to retreat from fresh fruits and vegetables.  Fresh winter produce is abundant, nutritious, and tasty.

From hearty root vegetables to bright, sweet citrus, winter produce delivers a surprising range of flavorful fruits and vegetables for you to cook. Citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruits and tangerines are at their peak during the winter months, as are winter squashes and dark leafy greens, such as collards, kale and Brussels sprouts. You may also be surprised by how many locally grown root vegetables and cabbages are available from cold storage and how many greens are coming out of local cold frames and greenhouses at this time of year.

Most supermarkets carry a wide selection of fresh produce during the winter, just be sure to buy what is in season and the cost will be reasonable.

These recipes are for everyday and easily carry across the seasons. They just taste good and easily fit into a weekly menu, especially in winter when heartier meals are comforting.

Stuffed and Baked Acorn Squash

Winter produce - Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Servings: 8
Ingredients

  • 4 acorn squash (about 1 pound each), halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
  • 10 ounces day-old rustic bread—crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock or chicken broth
  • 1/2 chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the cut sides of the squash with olive oil and season the cavities with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on two baking sheets covered with parchment paper and roast for about 25 minutes, until just tender.

In a large skillet, melt the butter in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the celery, leeks and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the apples and thyme and cook over moderately high heat until the apples just start to soften, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Add the bread, cranberries, parsley, cream and stock and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the squash cut side up. Spoon the stuffing into the cavities, sprinkle with chopped pecans and bake until the squash are tender and the stuffing is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.

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Braised Beef over Butternut Squash Polenta

winter produce - squash
Ingredients for Stew:

  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck shoulder pot roast (grass-fed beef, if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 medium parsnips (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup beef broth

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Trim fat from beef. Cut meat into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

In a ovenproof 4-quart Dutch oven heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Cook meat, half at a time, until browned, stirring frequently. Remove meat from the Dutch oven.

In the same Dutch oven cook celery, carrots, parsnips and onion in the remaining oil for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables start to brown. Stir in wine and rosemary.

Add the 1 1/2 cups water and beef broth. Cook and stir over medium heat until boiling, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven.

Place pan, covered, in the oven and bake about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Ingredients for the polenta:

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup butternut squash, fresh cooked or frozen and thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan combine milk and 1/4 cup water; bring to boiling. In a medium bowl stir together the 1 cup cold water and polenta or cornmeal. Slowly add the polenta mixture to the boiling milk mixture. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in squash, salt and pepper.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring frequently, and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a slow boil.

To finish the stew:

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Fresh parsley leaves

Stir together the 1/4 cup cold water and flour. Add to the meat mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 1 minute more.

To serve:

Spoon soft polenta into shallow serving bowls. Top with braised meat and vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley leaves.

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5 thoughts on “Cooking With Winter Produce”

  1. I’ve made polenta a LOT over the years. I especially love it the next morning fried with eggs. But I’ve never added anything beside cheese to the cooking pot. Seems so obvious now. Anything with winter squashes win big with me. Love both recipes!!!

  2. Polenta needs a redo every once in awhile to keep it from being boring. If I am not adding anything else to the polenta, I cook it in vegetable or chicken broth to keep it tasty Sounds great with eggs, Linda.

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