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Winter Green

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Winter Green

Winter is wonderful, with its festive spirit, cozy dinners, and warming comfort foods. But as we move from celebration into brief hibernation, we also hunger for the flavour of something fresh. The mildly bitter taste of many green winter vegetables really satisfies this instinctive craving. And they’re abundant: chards and kales of all kinds, Collard and beet greens, beautiful cabbages, Brussels sprouts – the list is long, delicious, and deeply nourishing.

Brilliant Brussels Sprouts

Mark Twain called these little green globes ‘Cauliflower with a college education’. They’re both cruciferous vegetables (or Brassicas, if you prefer), along with broccoli, cabbage and kale. These can all be prepared in more or less the same way – steamed with butter, napped in cheese sauce, roasted or eaten raw… Brussels sprouts are particularly good roasted with a little oil and salt, as their outer skins become deliciously crisp (like kale chips) while the inside becomes tender and slightly sweet. About 45 minutes in a 225 °F (425 °F) oven generally does the trick. Don’t let them get black, and shake them once or twice as they cook. Sliced Brussels sprouts can also be added raw to salads for sophisticated crunch, and are also especially delicious quickly sautéed in butter with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of poppy seeds.

Creamed Greens

Leafy greens are the star of the produce aisle in winter, with chards of all colours, green, red, and black kales, spinach, dandelion greens, rapini, even mustard and turnip greens. Many of these can be quite bitter eaten raw, but cooking tempers this flavour. Like the Brassicas (which some of them are) these leafy greens are all intensely good simply steamed and served with butter and a squirt of lemon juice or vinegar. But creamed greens are one of winter’s true luxuries. All you need to do is remove any tough stems from the leaves, steam and chop them, and add them to a warm Béchamel sauce. Adding a teaspoon of mustard and a handful of a shredded Aged Cheese like Canadian Cheddar or Gouda adds depth and dimension to this deeply satisfying dish.

Your Signature Slaw

Beyond the usual ‘traditional’ and ‘creamy’ coleslaws there is a whole world of fabulously crunchy, crispy, and creamy flavour to discover. Shredded cabbage of course makes a great base, but for variation try red cabbage, Napa cabbage, or Savoy cabbage, which are easy to find all winter long, and all possess their own unique flavours and textures. Then try adding sliced snow or sugar snap peas, sliced Brussels sprouts, sprouts of mustard, pea, or sunflower, sliced Endive, shredded radicchio, leaves of baby kale…All of these mildly bitter winter vegetables go beautifully together in a raw salad dressed with a creamy dressing. Equal parts of mayonnaise and either sour cream or plain yogurt make a perfect foundation to build on; be sure to add an acid like lemon or vinegar, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. And a few tablespoons of Canadian Blue cheese in the dressing make for a truly sensational slaw.

Winter doesn’t have to be all roasts, roots, soups and stews. Throughout the season, there’s a variety of flavourful and seasonal vegetables that can add vibrance, vitality and colour to your everyday meals. Think green!

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