Towards the end of February, it seems like nothing will ever grow again, and a juicy summer tomato is but a dream. Most Americans just go to the supermarket and buy whatever exotic fruits or produce they are craving with no regards to whence it came, how many miles it has traveled, or how the nutrients have been degraded by early harvest and long travel time between dirt and plate.
I strongly encourage those yearning for the warmer days of spring where every corner bursts with greenery to make use of the oft-neglected seasonal produce. Try searching Local Harvest for farmers markets near you. Root crops store so well, while cold-tolerant crops are appearing in local markets. If you are lucky you may even have farmers with greenhouses or cold hoops that grow tender baby greens and lettuces.
Many people cannot name 5 produce items that are in season any time of the year other than mid-summer, and maybe not even then. During the coldest, bleakest times of winter it is especially hard to think of produce actually being able to withstand the harsh temperatures. But in New England, there are tons of vegetables that you can find for mere pennies at the local markets, including: carrots, fingerling potatoes, beets (red and gold), rutabaga, squash, parsnips, turnips, radishes, leeks, onions, Brussels sprouts, baby micro-greens, spinach, kale, collards, and mushrooms.
This recipe makes a large meal for one, or side dish for two. Feel free to mix up the vegetable content based on what you have available right now and what you like. But if you are wary of these produce types, just try one and see how you like it. You never know when you may fall in love with the sweetness of a golden beet, the carrot-like texture of parsnips, or the nuances of various radish strains.
- 1 parsnip
- 1 leek
- 1 carrot
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 green onion
- 1 small potato
- 3-4 small beets
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
Step 1: Cut the tops and bottoms off of your produce, and dice into chunks or slices. Add the olive oil & lemon to a frying pan, and add all the vegetables. Cover tightly, and steam 5-10 minutes. Stir up the veggies, cover, and steam another 10 minutes or so. You want the heat low enough that it will slowly caramelize the sugars in the vegetables, not burn them.
Step 2: Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Either serve alone or on the side with a meat and salad. I enjoyed mine with some roasted chicken, baby greens, and homemade sauerkraut on top. It is so simple, yet so wonderfully tasty!