How to eat locally in New England in Winter

In America, we have a list of the ten most eaten vegetables by volume, among them, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, etc., but only three of the ten top vegetables are storage crops available during the New England winter: potatoes, carrots and (to a lesser extent) cabbage.

Eating a diversity of vegetables throughout the year is important not only for personal health, as each vegetable contains a unique combination of minerals and vitamins, but it is also important for soil health for the same reasons- creating a balance in soil nutrient profiles as different crops are rotated through. Sampling a diversity of vegetables means giving a market for a wide variety of vegetables for farmers, and this diversity vastly improves the health of the soil in which the vegetables grow, plus, it’s a tastier way to get through the winter.

There are more options than you think over the winter for locally grown vegetables. Some farmers are extending the season with hoop houses (a moveable, passive greenhouse), and can grow hearty greens like spinach and bitter greens throughout the colder months. Kale contains a kind of natural anti-freeze, allowing it to continue to be harvested well into the winter- this may be the last standing crop you see poking through the snow come January. There’s celeriac, rutabaga, a whole range of squashes, you will likely continue to see leeks, cabbages, endive, carrots, all sorts of potatoes, and my personal favorite, watermelon radish.

You’ll get to sample all the winter has to offer in New England with our meal kits, but we have a few ideas to get your daily dose of winter vegetables, and make the best use of what farmers are selling that match the season and your likely desire for starchy, warming vegetables this winter.

Rutabaga & Oats for Breakfast

Rutabaga is a sweet, starchy vegetable, and given the warm fall and winter we’ve had, most farmers have a LOT of rutabaga, and they’re big! This recipe is a great way to use them, and a good way to start the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c grated Rutabaga (from a farmer you know!)
  • 1 c oats (I like rolled oats, and suggest NOT using quick oats)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil, coconut oil, or sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 egg (from a farmer you know uses compost for feed- you can taste the difference)

Overnight Oats:

Submerging any grain or legume in water and letting wild yeasts in the grains and the air go to work is the beginnings of fermentation. Oatmeal is a filling, healthy, and very cheap way to fill up for breakfast, and overnight oats reduce cooking time and aid in digestion. Fermentation essentially starts the digestion process for you, starting to break down some of the cells in the oats. Leave them overnight, or for a couple days depending on your taste (it gets a little more dank as the days roll on), boil for 5-10 minutes, and they’re fully cooked and not mushy like “quick oats” would be. Saute rutabaga, fry or poach and egg, add the spices, and you have a cheap, healthy breakfast!

1. The night before, submerge oats in water in a bowl, set on the counter, and cover with a cloth or something that allows air to flow through

2. In the morning, drain the water, put the oats in a pot, and add ~3/4c water and bring to a gentle boil. Stir to be sure the oats do not stick to the bottom, and cook until desired thickness.

3. Grate or julienne rutabaga, and saute in a cast iron pan for 5-10 minutes or until softened

4. Fry or poach your egg

5. Meanwhile, add nutritional yeast, paprika, salt, red pepper and 1tsp oil to the oats and mix in the rutabaga.

Serve the oats with the egg over it. Breakfast!


New England Kimchi

Adapting this traditional Korean recipe to New England winter

This is an easy ferment of cabbage and daikon radish, to which you add a spicy and flavorful paste. Fermented for a week in a jar, and then stuck in the fridge, this treat will preserve the harvest for about a month, and kimchi can be used as a condiment alongside many dishes, or just be a treat on its own. Fermented foods are great for replenishing gut flora and aiding in digestion.

Try it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely chopped Napa Cabbage
  • 1 cup julienned Daikon Radish
  • 2 tsp thinly sliced Scallion or Leek
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper or Thai Chili
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh Ginger

1. Mix the daikon and napa cabbage and salt heavily (about 1/8- 1/4c), mixing to ensure the salt has reached all surfaces. Pack down and leave for a few hours until you see liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Pack it down again, ensuring the vegetables are submerged in their own liquid, and cover with a cloth.

2. Spice Paste: Blend or finely grind all other ingredients, until you have formed a fine paste.

3. After 6 hours- day, mix the paste in with the cabbage mix, transfer to jar, and pack down so everything is submerged in liquid. Be sure to leave 1 inch of space at the top (otherwise it will overflow during fermentation). Lightly cover the jar and allow to sit in a cool, dark place for up to a week, tasting the kimchi each day until it’s fermented to your liking.

4. Cover with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate for up to a month, enjoying throughout!