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‘Tis the season for winter veg

From delicious soups to fragrant curries, we naturally choose meals that are warming and satisfying at this time of year - and luckily mother nature has given us plenty of winter veggies to cook with. Katie Roche shares her love for six of the best that will give you a warm glow this winter. Read on for recipe inspiration and advice on how to store your organic veg to keep it fresh for longer.

#1 Smashing pumpkins
Pumpkin is a type of squash, which is easily worked into curries and soups, mixed with grains and salads, and it is also great on its own. Packed with nutrients, one of the best ways to cook it is by roasting on a low heat until caramelized. Chop into chunks, brush with oil, and then decide to either dust with cinnamon and sugar – or cumin, depending on your mood. Be sure to keep the seeds for a nutritious snack.

Storage: Pumpkins can keep for up to six months once stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Once cut, you can also store fresh pumpkin in your fridge, but it needs to be wrapped tightly in parchment paper/foil.

#2 Holy kale
There’s no denying kale is good for you. Research shows it has more vitamin C than an orange. One serving size of kale also provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Need we say more?

Steam, boil, or stir-fry in minutes and add to any meal. You can also make your own kale crisps by roasting leaves for 8 minutes on high heat, and then dusting in cinnamon, or cumin and garlic granules.

Storage: Treat kale right, and it will repay you in nutrients. Kale can last a week or more, but the trick is to avoid it getting moist, so only wash as you need it. Wrap the leaves in a paper towel and then place it in an air-tight bag/container. Kale can be frozen in bags or containers and put directly into smoothies and soups without being thawed.

#3 Sprouts aplenty
A member of the Brassica family, along with broccoli, kale and cauliflower, sprouts are often the unsung heroes of winter veg. There are lots of ways to cook them but the most appealing way is to slice then pan-fry using olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and chilli flakes. Add Parmesan and bacon for a delicious side dish or light lunch.

Storage: Store your sprouts in the fridge in a container without the lid. The outer leaves will wilt in the open air, but are completely usable in any dish. Avoid washing sprouts until you're ready to prepare them. Sprouts also freeze well, just blanch them beforehand.

#4 The humble parsnip
Parsnips don’t get the love they deserve, but they are truly superheroes of the soil. Rich in cholesterol-reducing fibre, and with an impressive range of vitamins, it’s certainly a vegetable worth rooting for this winter.

Parsnips are best when they are roasted in the oven, although they're also delicious steamed and mashed like potatoes.

Storage: Place in a bag or container and they should keep for a fortnight in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. Blanch for a few minutes before freezing them.

#5 Beets in abundance
Beetroot boasts mega antioxidants and is super rich in iron. Bursting with colour and flavour, it’s earthiness is paired well with goat’s cheese and walnuts. For a quick dish, peel and slice into bite-sized chunks, coat with oil and roast for 30-40 minutes.

If you have beetroot tops, don’t chuck them! Use the greens like you would any other leafy vegetable, they work well in stir fries or wilted into stews or risottos.

Storage: Beetroot with the greens attached can be stored for 3 to 5 days in the fridge, but if you want them to last longer, cut the greens off so they do not pull moisture away from the root. Blanch before freezing.

#6 Really red cabbage
Red cabbage is versatile and at this time of year is typically braised with sweet and sour ingredients to make a heart-warming dish. Packed full of antioxidants, it’s now often found fermented in kimchi.

Storage: The quickest way to store cabbage is to put it in parchment paper or foil in the fridge which should make it last 1-2 weeks. Be sure to blanche before freezing. Also, pickling is a fantastic way to preserve cabbage.

So, make sure you enjoy plenty of tasty, fresh organic veggies this winter to get your fill of some much-needed nutrients. Organic works with nature, using fewer pesticides on land that’s home to more wildlife, so don't forget to choose organic and help change our food system for the better, one parsnip at a time.

Katie Roche

Katie Roche

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