Think of winter foods and what comes to mind are hearty family dishes - the likes of shepherd’s pie, roast meats with honey roasted carrots and cauliflower cheese, followed by comforting puds such as piping hot apple pie and steaming bowlfuls of rhubarb crumble topped with custard.
However, for those of us trying to eat healthily, winter fruits and vegetables are surprisingly versatile. Cabbages and sweet carrots can be finely shredded and used in crunchy slaws and salads (top with slices of hot, grilled bacon if you need an element of heat or warm toasted pumpkin seeds for a vegan alternative).
Meanwhile apples and rhubarb can be poached or baked and served warm with a dollop of yoghurt or crème fraiche. The inspiring cook and food writer Nigel Slater (a great supporter of local) suggests baking rhubarb (cut into short lengths) in a shallow baking dish with the juice of an orange and a tablespoon of honey. Alternatively, he poaches rhubarb in water, elderflower cordial and honey. I suggest serving either of these with yoghurt and granola in the morning or with Jude’s vanilla ice cream (available in a low calorie, vegan or indulgent clotted cream versions) for a refreshing dessert.
Did you know that rhubarb is actually a vegetable? Although we tend to use it as a fruit, it works very well as an accompaniment to mackerel or pork as either a compote or pickle.
What else is in season?
Fruit: Apple; rhubarb.
Vegetables: Beetroot; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; cabbage; cauliflower; celeriac; celery; chicory; horseradish; Jerusalem artichoke; kale; leeks; mushrooms; onions; parsnips; potatoes; salsify; shallots; swede; sweet potato; turnips.
Game: Duck; goose; hare; mallard; partridge; pheasant; turkey; venison.
Seafood: Clams; cockles; dab; dover sole; flounder; grey gurnard; haddock; hake; herring; langoustine; lemon sole; lobster; mackerel; monkfish; mussels; oysters; pilchards and sardines; prawns; red gurnard; red mullet; scallops; sea bass; sea bream; skate; turbot; whelks.