Never know what’s growing now? Let’s take it one season at a time, with the Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year.
It’s November, which means many of us will soon be planning Thanksgiving dinners (or just looking forward to the eating part). If you’re looking for inspiration beyond mashed potatoes and gravy, consider some of the in-season vegetables below, recommended by Tara O’Brady, author of the new book Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day. Be sure to add these to your grocery list this month.
Brussels sprouts: This is a great month for brassicas, according to O’Brady, and Brussels are especially delicious since cold temperatures tame their bitterness. But other similar vegetables are delicious too, like kale and cabbage. “Consider stir frying sprouts with soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic. Cream kale as you would with spinach,” says O’Brady. In general, you should select cabbage, sprouts, and kale that are vibrant in color. Sprouts and cabbages should feel heavy for their size, O’Brady says.
Carrots: It’s root vegetable season. Stock up on carrots, parsnips, turnips and celeriac, which convert their starches to sugar after a frost. “It is easy enough to make them into a soup or roast them until golden,” O’Brady says. “Try adding interest through seasoning—carrots work well with harissa or za’atar, parsnips with honey and walnuts, and celeriac is especially good with thyme, hazelnuts, cumin and coriander.”
Cranberries: “Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, cranberries are surprisingly versatile,” says O’Brady. This month they will likely appear on many Thanksgiving tables as a sauce or chutney, but O’Brady says fresh cranberries can also be used in cake, crisps and quick breads. “Or they can be roasted, added to stuffings for vegetables and meats, and used to infuse alcohol—vodka and gin are particularly good,” she says. Keep an eye out for fresh berries that have tight, shining skins, and bounce when dropped, she says.
Leeks: Similar to carrots, leeks’ flavor benefits from the chill of a frost, O’Brady says. “Look for stalks that have the most white and light green as possible. They should feel crisp,” she says. O’Brady says braised leeks are “brilliant with eggs,” and on a cold evening, potato leek soup is delicious.
Onions: “Fall and winter onions are more robust than their early-year counterparts,” says O’Brady. “This season’s onions should have darker, thicker skins, and look for ones without blemishes. Firmer and with a lower water content, fall varietals take well to longer cooking.” Try roasting onions in wedges alongside meat, or slowly caramelize them for added flavor to any dish.