Had an abundance of turkey from Thanksgiving and plenty of veggies in my winter garden so figured a nice healthy omelet for dinner might help out the recovery from the nutrient lacking foods I ate the day before.
Specifically I used Kale, spinach, green onions, and bok choy. You can see the recipe I used for this veggie and turkey omelet here.
4 years ago winter garden
As we find ourselves in the throes of the fall and winter holiday season, food becomes a popular conversation starter. For some reason, though, winter vegetables are often treated with less creativity than their spring and summer counterparts. To spice up your diet while keeping it cheap and healthy, take a gander at the five winter veggies below and use them to wow your family and friends.
I’ve tried kale a few different ways now, and I think the trick with eating these greens is in their pairing and preparation. I, for example, love using kale in omelets, but I don’t add them in with the rest of the ingredients (onions, mushrooms, cheese, etc.). Instead, I wait until everything is nearly cooked, and then I throw in some cold and crisp kale. After a couple of minutes, the meal will be done, but the kale will retain its fresh properties, offsetting the rest of the ingredients and making for a more interesting and wide-ranging experience for your taste buds.
Another creative way to use kale is to make your own miso soup, chock full of these greens. Grab some brown rice paste from the supermarket and add it to your own custom-made lineup of vegetables and tofu–just don’t forget that kale! Even for the soup, I’ll hold off on putting the kale in the water too soon. Most restaurants will serve their greens fully-cooked and withered, but the soup (like the omelet) has more textural complexity if the ingredients aren’t all softened and sapped of some crucial nutrients.
If you’re going to maintain your own winter garden, plant some Winter Red or Wintebor kale in July or August, and then wait for those cabbage-like goods to crest.
Beets just might be my favorite winter vegetable/root. It’s also the main ingredient in my favorite salad, which is a twist on the otherwise run-of-the-mill beet salad. My brother’s girlfriend makes a salad that combines red and golden beets (3 red, 2 golden) with ¼ cup minced shallot, and some lamb’s lettuce. For the true kicker, she adds a few crumbles of goat cheese and a handful of pistachios to the mix.
If you plant some delicious Winterkeeper or Albina Verduna beet seeds in July, you’ll have those roots ready to go for your fall and winter harvest. In addition, the beet will re-sprout in the spring, offering some full, healthy leaves. Being able to harvest multiple times for the same food means you can eat with an improved sense of health and frugality. But whether you’re planting beets at home, or are getting your winter’s share at a natural market, be sure to try your hand at a beet salad.
Squash is the simple one of the bunch. Go ahead and make soup with it, or attempt to make a world-class plate of spaghetti. Even a casserole will suffice as a sure-fire crowd pleaser. But in my mind, there’s no better remedy for a long day at the office than a whole butternut squash emerging from the oven. Your whole house will feel warm and smell of the harvest. The flesh should be nice and soft, and easy to scoop out with spoon or fork. I usually just put some butter on the warmed flesh, but you might want to try adding some brown sugar to the mix if you’re feeling especially daring. Butternut squash is filling but cheap and simple to prepare, and winter just wouldn’t be the same without it.
Mustard leaves aren’t as commonly thought of as kale, spinach, collards or arugula. But the leaves of mustard are peppery in taste, and are great for making exotic dishes. I’m happy snacking on them as raw greens, when they still taste like spinach or radish roots, and if I cook them, I usually just sprinkle on some lemon juice and garlic. If you want to replace the lemon juice, try a bowl of mustard leaves with sesame oil and rice. Mixing and matching is the name of the game for mustard greens, and experimentation will allow them to be your most versatile winter food.
If you’re planting mustard at home, press those seeds anytime from August to the middle of October, when the brunt of summer heat has passed. After you’re done collecting the leaves, let the plant go to seed for a secondary harvest later on.
Chives are my wild card choice for this list. You won’t be able to harvest the chive stalks in winter, or even be to grow them easily in the colder seasons and climates. However, if you plant them under a cloche, or germinate them indoors before moving them outside as the weather breaks and warms, then you’ll have my absolute favorite green ready for a spring harvest. When I was a child, I used to eat chives straight from my uncle’s garden. They’re great for garnish on baked potatoes, and also make for an excellent addition to any soup stock or broth. Whereas most of the other foods on this list are featured as main ingredients, chives are sure to act as foils for other foods they mingle with, and will amplify a dish’s whole overall flavor. This might not be a food that’s in season during the winter months, but it will make for a great winter project, and will ensure that the next season kicks off the right way.
Whether you’re maintaining your own winter garden, or are just plucking the goods from local markets, the 5 foods above will make your winter cuisine more complex in flavor and your winter preparations more creative and enjoyable. Best of all, each item is relatively cheap and also healthy, which means that you can be frugal with the greens in your wallet, as well.
Adam J.’s appreciation for winter vegetables is surpassed only by his enjoyment of Heirloom Tomatoes. He writes for FrugalDad.com; check out his blurb or contact him at adam ATT frugaldad DOTT com.
I got my first harvest from my winter garden, I could have given this a couple weeks more but the plants were starting to get crowded. Not ever cooked Bok Choy I went with the idea that everything is better with bacon and made some Bok Choy with bacon…or maybe could call it Bacon with some Bok Choy.
Not only delicious but given its low calorie count (14 calories per 100g) and being high in Vitamin A/C/K and a good source of folates, calcium, and iron.