No matter where you live, come late February most of us are itching for warmer weather, sunshine, and a chance to set aside the soups and stews for a lighter faire and fresh ingredients. Seasonal eating is a topic I've been learning about over the last year or so and this kind of intuitive eating is both healthy for you and for the planet.
Basically seasonal eating means you're mostly consuming the harvest of the season. For instance, right now it's citrus seasonal – orange, grapefruits, Meyer lemons are in abundance (maybe not 100% locally, but definitely from our own country) – so now is the time to be enjoying and consuming fresh squeezed orange juices, grapefruits with breakfast and sweet lemons in salad dressings. You could consume those things throughout the whole year, but right now they are at their peak meaning you'll get the most natural nutritional benefits from them and if you can buy locally that cuts down dramatically on shipping costs, contamination, and preservatives on the produce to keep them fresh throughout transport.
There's something very mindful of buying seasonal produce from local (or semi-local) farmers and cooking with what is naturally available at different points through the year.
If you're not sure what is in season, the easiest thing to do is just pop to your local farmer's market and see what the farmers are selling. You likely won't see fresh heirloom tomatoes so stick the burrata salad to the side and experiment with cold weather crops like beets, arugula, kale, and broccoli.
My Favorite Recipes to Make in Late Winter
- Butternut Squash Soup - I don't really use a recipe for this meal, but a good butternut squash soup is truly one of the highlight dishes of winter. It's easily made in the crockpot and best with a bit of fresh parmesan, roasted pumpkin seeds on top, and a splash of heavy cream in the well-blended soup.
- Warm Winter Salad – Again, this is a recipe I don't have a recipe for and is perfect for trying to clean out the fridge. It's a combination of lots of different roasted veggies, fresh greens, a soft boiled egg, homemade croutons and pesto dressing. I love the combo of beets, parsnips, carrots, Brussel sprouts, kale, arugula, fresh parmesan and some quinoa.
- Chicken Pot Pie – A favorite in our house for sure! I love making chicken pot pie in individual servings so no one has to share. I normally just eyeball everything, but this recipe is a good one. Serve it with blueberry muffins for the perfect hearty dinner.
- Enchiladas – I've been making enchiladas for years but a couple weeks attempted to make my own enchilada sauce. It was so incredibly easy and tasted so much better. Plus, not filled with preservatives so that's a big plus.
- Shepards Pie – If you have leftover mashed potatoes this is an awesome late winter meal. Roast up all the extra veggies in your fridge and throw it into a sauce with hamburger and potatoes on top. So delicious.
- Ramen – if you have not had authentic ramen before (not the kind from the packets) you really need to search out a place near you that does good ramen. It's basically a soup loaded with meat and veggies along with a spicy (or not) broth. It is life changing. Another great recipe for cleaning out the fridge dinner. Perfect with the Trader Joes dumplings or vegetarian spring rolls.
- Roasted Chicken and Veggies – A big cast iron skillet filled with rice, chicken thighs, carrots, onion and fresh grated cheese on top is a must-make meal in the late winter. It's fresh, but not too light and tastes like chicken noodle soup but with rice and in a casserole form. This recipe is a good one to base it on - but take as many liberties as needed.
- Mushroom Stroganoff – if we're having a carb-heavy meal we often just make it vegetarian. We eat pasta once a week and most of the time we don't eat any meat with it, just lots of veggies. This mushroom stroganoff is a twist on a classic beef stroganoff with rich, earthy mushrooms taking the place of beef. It's delicious and creamy and perfect for a chilly, dark night. Half Baked Harvest - queen of all the recipes - was the first person to put me onto this recipe.
My Favorite Pieces to Cook With For Winter
My cast iron skillets definitely get a workout in the wintertime. Along with my dutch oven. Sure I use them in the summer, but more of than not we grill in the summer, so winter is these pots time to shine.
I have a few sizes of cast iron skillets and I love them all/am actively trying to find other sizes.
And then there's the workhorse of my kitchen: My Our Place Always Pan. It's the most versatile pan I have ever cooked with and would buy it over and over. I've had it for over a year now and could not live without it.
A few other tools that are amazing for winter recipes are my crockpot and immersion blender. I've linked all the items below!