We’re fortunate enough in Canada to have incredible produce year-round. In particular and despite freezing temperatures, Canadian winter seasonal vegetables are deeply flavourful and densely nutritious. Offering impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals, these winter offerings range from earthy and sweet root vegetables to spicy greens and umami-packed mushrooms. This produce is readily available across Canada in most grocery stores, as well as in local farmers markets and from CSA boxes.
Cabbage has an irresistible peppery bite and crunchy texture lending itself well to slaws, stir-fries, and stuffed cabbage recipes. Experiment with different types of cabbage to discover new favourites; red, green, Savoy, and Napa cabbage are just some of the varieties available in grocery stores and farmers markets during the winter season. Dress shredded cabbage with lime juice and olive oil and use as a base for shrimp, salmon, and chicken tacos. Update the traditional mayo-based coleslaw dressing and use fresh orange or grapefruit juice, sesame oil, and salt and pepper to dress the salad. Garnish the coleslaw with fresh cilantro, scallions, avocado slices, and toasted sesame seeds.
A member of the cabbage family, bok choy is a dark green leafy green vegetable with a crunchy white stalk perfect for curries and stir fries. Add bok choy to green coconut milk curries in the last few minutes of cooking, making sure to add a generous amount of bok choy since it will shrink down considerably once cooked. Mildly flavoured raw bok choy can be thinly sliced and added to green salads, providing plenty of crunch minus the bitter taste of most other greens.
An excellent source of vitamin A, carrots are a versatile and filling ingredient with a long list of delicious uses. Grate carrots and add to oatmeal along with cinnamon, almond butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. Roasted carrots pair well a variety of seasonings, including curry powder and turmeric, rosemary and sea salt or honey and olive oil. Purée steamed carrots and add to smoothies, pasta sauces and soups; freeze leftovers in resealable plastic bags.
A milder version of white or yellow onions, leeks are a welcome addition to winter stews, soups, and pasta dishes. Leeks should be carefully washed with cold running water as they’re prone to collecting sandy dirt in between their layers. Cover halved leeks with white wine or vegetable broth, olive oil and a few cloves of garlic and braise for half an hour in a 350°F oven; serve with the cooking liquid spooned over top of the leeks. Need caramelized onions but short on time? Substitute thinly sliced leeks for the onions to shave 10-15 minutes off the cooking time.
A fantastic option for creating meaty texture without actually including meat, mushrooms come in dozens of shapes, sizes, and varieties to encourage plenty of creativity in the kitchen. Clean fresh mushrooms with a damp paper towel, discarding any overly wooden stems. Dehydrated mushrooms can be reconstituted in warm water, creating an ultra-rich broth for mushroom and barley soups. Roasted mushrooms offer an abundance of umami flavours, make a big batch and add them to risottos, pilafs and grain salads as needed throughout the week.