Written by: Larissa Holland
“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” – William Blake
Let’s face it… no matter how adaptable you are, the winter months test us all. The shorter days paired with extended periods of darkness, the absurdly cold temperatures, the occasional snow storm leaving you with somehow more chores than normal – winter is challenging. Even with all of these seasonal truths, winter brings forth gifts & abundance that only this season can provide.
One of my favorite ways to embrace the winter has always been through cooking. A goal of mine is to eat with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, which means my dietary spread looks so different throughout the year. As affirmed by the Maine Federation of Farmer’s Markets, there are dozens of vegetables & fruits that are only in season during the winter. Some popular winter season veggies in the state of Maine include: apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, micro greens, squash, turnips & more. I invite you to read my mini love stories to these powerhouse veggies as I share with you five of my favorite deep winter dishes!
1. French Onion Soup
While onions are the main local goodie in this recipe, it’s a good way to use a lot of them. This recipe is the most intensive one on this list – though it’s totally worth the effort! I followed Elise Bauer’s recipe on Simply Recipe, minus the brandy + added a local leek. Go hard on the cheese and enjoy near the fire or cozied up during snowfall.
2. Late Winter Harvest Fried Rice
This is such a fun recipe to cook and to eat. Additionally, it uses *drumroll please* five local winter veggies! This recipe consists of: sesame / coconut oil, brown rice, tempeh, white onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, purple cabbage, kale, turmeric & curry powder, black pepper, soy sauce, and 2 soft boiled eggs. While a bit adventurous, this meal is a great way to pack in a lot of local winter veggies.
3. Stuffed Acorn Squash
This is a new recipe in my life and I know it won’t be an infrequent one. Using local squash, onion, garlic, & kale (don’t forget about any frozen summer veggies you might have!), this fairly easy recipe dons nicely with those cold
and dark evenings. I found this recipe on one of my favorite Instagram accounts, Toni Okamato’s Plant Based on A Budget. If you’re not able to view the account, consider checking out her website.
- Cook 1 cup of quinoa as instructed on the package. The recipe (and I, too!) suggest cooking it with 2 cups broth instead of water.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the (2) acorn squash in half, remove the seeds, and brush the inside & outside of the squash with olive oil. Place face down on a baking sheet and bake for 40 mins.
- In a large pan, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil and saute the onion (1) & three cloves of garlic for 3 mins. Stir in 2 cups kale & saute for a bit longer. Then add in the cooked quinoa, ½ cup of cranberries, and 1 can of garbanzo beans until evenly mixed.
- Once the squash is cooked, remove from the oven & stuff with filling! Place back in the oven for 10 mins.
4. Curried Carrot Parsnip Soup
I know, I know – another soup on such a short list. Though the only thing I love to embrace equally as much as soup in winter cooking is curry, so it simply had to make the list! Plus, we cannot forget about parsnips. I follow the delicious recipe from Food 52 to a T.
5. Crispy Smashed Potatoes
I am here to say that Smashed Potatoes is not only a great name for a dance, but is also a great side dish recipe. Whether it’s baked fish, flank steak, or BBQ tofu – I have dressed up many meals with this crunchy side! A personal fan favorite recipe in my life is that of The Modern Proper. The best news? It’s literally only five ingredients: baby potatoes, garlic, salt, olive oil, and herbs of your choosing. There is no going wrong with adding this to your dinner party menu this new year!
Cooking with winter-season veggies is not only a way to sneak in a lot of nutritious, local foods, but is also a creative way to engage with one of Maine’s four seasons! While I chose these five meals to highlight, there are endless recipes you can follow that highlight the abundance of winter. I hope this blog post helps spark your own interest in embracing winter’s harvest throughout your cooking!