Choose: Beets with their leafy greens attached or trimmed with the root stem still attached. They should be smooth, unblemished, and dark in color.
Store: Unwashed in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Cut: Wash the dirt and grit from the beets thoroughly. Boil or roast the beets, and then carefully remove the skin with a paring knife after cooking. Use gloves or paper towels to prevent staining on your hands, and prepare your cutting surface so the beet juice doesn't stain your cutting board or counter top.
Roasted beets, pickled radishes, crunchy pumpernickel croutons, and fresh oranges tossed with baby spinach make for a fresh and tasty winter salad.
Choose: Firm, straight leeks with deep green tops. Avoid yellow, limp, or bruised leeks.
Store: Unwashed leeks in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, or freeze washed, dried, and sliced leeks in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Cut: For sliced leeks, use only the white and very pale green parts. Remove the root end, slice lengthwise and then slice crosswise into half moons. Fill a bowl with cool water and place the chopped leeks into the water and swirl vigorously. Allow the bowl to sit undisturbed for several minute so the sandy sediment sinks to the bottom. Remove leeks with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Rich, hearty broth; crunchy bread; and gooey cheese make this bowl of French onion and leek soup pure comfort food goodness.
Choose: Bright green, compact heads with no yellowing or browning. Stems should be strong but not woody.
Store: Unwashed broccoli in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cut: Discard browned or woody parts of the stem. Cut stem off the head. To use the stem, peel it and slice it into rounds. Cut the head into florets, either small or large depending on your preference.
Roasted broccoli tossed with lemon and Parmesan is nutty, crunchy, and highly addictive. One bite and you'll never steam it again!
Choose: Firm, bright, and uncracked carrots, ideally with the greens attached for the best flavor.
Store: Unpeeled in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or for longer storage, place trimmed carrots submerged in cold water in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Change the water if it becomes cloudy.
Cut: Trim the root end, and peel with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Cut into rounds or sticks.
Roasted carrots with miso butter are caramelized, tender, and rich in umami.
Choose: Firm celery root that feels heavy for its size, with as few knobs as possible and no soft spots.
Store: Unwashed in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cut: Trim off the ends and any knobs. Place flat end on cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut the skin away in downward strokes. Remove all the skin and spots. Slice or cube before cooking.
Rich, creamy celery root soup drizzled with herbed olive oil is the perfect starter for your next dinner party.
Choose: Bright green brussels sprouts that feel heavy for their size. They should not be yellowed or browned.
Store: Unwashed for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Cut: Trim the end, and remove any blemished or loose leaves. Wash under cool water and cook either intact, halved, or shredded.
Toss Brussels sprouts, fennel, and leeks with olive oil, cider vinegar, and spices; roast until caramelized. The pinch of spice and bite of acid enhances the flavor of these favorite winter vegetables.
Choose: Squash that is unblemished, smooth, and heavy for its size.
Store: In a cool, dry, and dark place for several weeks.
Cut: Use a sharp knife to cut remove both ends. Peel with a vegetable peeler or paring knife in downward strokes. Cut off the bulb end, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash crosswise and dice.
A smooth and creamy soup of roasted butternut squash, apples, and spices gets topped with ginger cream and apple chips for comfort food heaven.
Chunks of roasted butternut squash, sautéed apples, and salty pancetta dot this creamy risotto for a stick to your ribs one-pot meal or an elegant first course.
Choose: Firm bunches of kale with sturdy stems and dark, unwilted leaves that are not yellowed or discolored.
Store: Wrap unwashed kale in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cut: Remove the stem running down the center of the leaf because it is tough, fibrous, and unpalatable. Then chiffonade the leaves for salad.
This roasted butternut squash and kale salad gets tossed with dried cranberries, crispy prosciutto, shaved Parmesan, and lemon vinaigrette for a tangy, salty, slightly sweet, and satisfying bite.
Creamy dressing, crunchy kale, and crispy Parmesan toasts = salad perfection.
Choose: Firm citrus fruits that feel heavy for their size with no soft spots or bruises.
Store: At room temperature for three days, then refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Cut: Peel and eat segments. Or supreme for a salad (a technique that removes the membrane).
This vibrant citrus salad drizzled with chive vinaigrette will brighten any winter day.
Choose: Firm, unblemished pears without soft spots. Ripened pears will yield to light pressure, but aren't soft or mushy.
Store: At room temperature to ripen for two to three days. Ripe pears can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cut: Pears can be enjoyed with or without their skins. For salads, cut off the stem end and peel the pear. Slice in half and use a small spoon or melon-baller to scoop out the seeds and scrape out the stem. Place flat-side down and slice into half-moons.
Red wine poached pears are a sweetly spiced company-worthy dessert.
Hasselback pears topped with brown butter streusel and goat cheese whipped cream are a sweet and tangy winter dessert.