January is in the rear-view mirror and days are joyfully longer. We’re not quite done with gloomy grey skies, and there may be limited colour in garden displays. There are, however, a few seasonal treasures worth looking out for in the greengrocery/fruit and vegetable aisle.
Yorkshire-grown rhubarb is a favourite for pies, cakes and crumbles— the pretty pink hue making it a winter favourite. Look out for pale pink, slim stalks — once they get too thick, they can become coarse and stringy. Add apples and vanilla as the filling for a Friday night crumble.
It’s also delicious roasted with a little honey or sugar (allow approximately 85 – 100g sweetener per 500g of rhubarb) and adds Insta-worthy glamour to bakes like Sarah Mann-Yeager’s frangipane — overleaf.
Don’t reserve it for sweet dishes — the tart acidity also makes it a great base for a chutney or salsa to cut through the oiliness of grilled mackerel. Just simmer with a lower quantity of sugar than you’d use for a sweet compote. To do this, add about a tablespoon of demerara per 200g of rhubarb plus a generous pinch of ground ginger and 125ml water — and simmer until soft enough to puree through a sieve.
Blush oranges also bring a burst of sunshine and some much-needed vitamin C. Perfect as they are peeled and sliced with a shower of cinnamon and drizzle of orange flower honey but also ideally matched to earthy beetroot with a handful of olives for a refreshing salad. They’re also perfect to use for curd — regular oranges work just as well, but the rosy hue of the blush fruits gives a gorgeous Barbie vibe. Make ahead for Purim gifts or to fill your hamantaschen.
They’re also great for marmalade, which then can be used beyond toast as a zesty glaze for roasted carrots or on your Friday night chicken.
There’s plenty of colour in the vegetable section too, not to mention vitamins and minerals. You can eat the rainbow — from yellow swede; orange butternut squash; deep purple beetroot and red cabbage and a huge range of green hues from pale leeks to through kale to deep green cavolo nero. All great for Shabbat soups or stews.
Kale and cavolo nero are stuffed with immune-boosting antioxidants and minerals. Before you tuck in, make sure to give the the sliced leaves a firm massage between your palms with a pinch of salt and spoonful of olive oil to make them easy to eat raw in crunchy slaws. (Really.) Delicious on the side of a hearty brisket.
Brassicas like Savoy cabbage and spring greens are good steamed and super tasty when roasted with a shower of spices — think cumin and coriander or spice mixes like za’atar. And don’t forget Brussels sprouts — also better for roasting (perfect Air Fryer fodder) but also great, sliced thinly in slaws and salads. Or try halving them and stir frying until tender, then coating in a mixture of Marmite and butter — you’ll need about one teaspoon of Marmite for every three tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Another firm Feb favourite is the humble cauliflower, taken from side dish to showstopper by Israeli chefs like Eyal Shani. Boil briefly to tenderise then by whole roast it. Shani’s Miznon restaurants use lashings of butter, which is unsurprisingly more-ish, but to keep things parev you can use olive oil and plenty of seasoning. Za’atar or a shower of cumin seeds are perfect here too. Make sure to roast it until caramelised for satisfying sweetness.
Or try Fabienne Viner-Luzzato’s version, stuffed with minced meat takes the idea to the next level.
It’s also a multi-tasker, making a low-carb couscous/rice or a vegetable/vegan steak stand-in or even mashed instead of potatoes.
Also great now are carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac. The latter might look unapproachable but once you slice off its gnarly exterior, the inside of celery root makes delicious soups and mash as well as a lighter chip, especially if cooked in an air fryer. It’s also delicious grated to make celeriac remoulade — just add mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard to make great parev salad alongside your Friday night roast chicken.
We might be missing the sunshine, but there’s no lack of seasonal flavours to fill our tables.