We usually associate winter meals with hearty soups, comforting stews, and decadent casseroles. The best way to beat the cold is by loading up on heavy dishes that fill our stomachs and give us some extra padding.
Trees and plants may appear barren during the winter, but there’s a bountiful winter harvest of nutritious fruits and vegetables to provide healthy side dishes, stews, and snacks.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of delicious winter fruits and vegetables for you to explore as you plan your winter meals.
Add these winter vegetables and fruits to your grocery list for some fresh winter dishes.
Parsnips are a hearty root vegetable that looks like a white carrot.
Parsnips have a carrot-like taste, but they also have a unique blend of bitter and sweet that distinguishes them from their orange counterparts.
Also, unlike carrots, parsnips aren’t very good raw. They taste best roasted, which brings out the sweetness and gives them a starchier texture.
Another wonderful root vegetable, beets have a stunning deep crimson color that will dye anything it touches a deep pink, including your fingers!
Beets taste delicious raw, shredded over a salad.
However, for the winter months, I recommend roasting them and serving them over a bed of lentils with other root veggies.
If you like bitter, savory vegetables, you’ll love brussels sprouts.
A member of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts look like miniature green cabbage. You can eat them raw, shredded in a hearty winter salad.
When you cook Brussels sprouts, they become incredibly flavorful.
My favorite method to cook Brussels sprouts is by searing them in a hefty layer of olive oil, then covering the pan to let them steam until tender.
You can also throw them in the air fryer for a crispy sprout dish!
Carrots are a treasured vegetable for any time of year.
They are a root vegetable, and, thus, a winter harvest cultivar, but I’d say it’s the lightest of all the roots.
I love to eat them raw with hummus for lunch. For a winter treat, I like roasting them with parsnips, turnips, and butternut squash seasoned with rosemary.
Celery has a mild flavor and a wonderful crunch that tastes great raw.
It does wonders to add texture to any dish, whether it be a salad, soup, or sandwich.
For stews and soups of all kinds, celery is a must-have ingredient that adds as much flavor as onions or garlic. It is, after all, a part of the sacred mirepoix.
Grapefruit gets a bad wrap for being a bitter citrus fruit, but there are plenty of sweet varieties that rival even the sweetest oranges.
That said, they have a slightly bitter aftertaste and a lower sugar content than oranges, making them a prized diet food and diabetic-friendly fruit.
I love skinning them and placing the delicately sliced pulp atop a roasted beet salad. This fruit is also fantastic in winter cocktails.
Potatoes – Sweet Potatoes and White Potatoes
Potatoes originated in the Americas but have since become the world’s most beloved carbohydrate.
Whether you want an orange sweet potato or a starchy russet, potatoes are the height of comfort.
Christmas dinner is the best excuse to eat mashed yams with maple and mashed potatoes with gravy in the same meal.
Of all the cabbage family (Brassicaceae) veggies, cauliflower is the most neutral in flavor.
I’m used to the standard white color, but you’ll now see green, orange, and even purple varieties.
Cauliflower has a subtle taste and a lovely texture when steamed.
I used to eat steamed cauliflower covered in melted cheddar cheese growing up. Now, I like to roast it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Yet another member of the Brassicaceae family, broccoli is hearty, flavorful, and versatile.
It tastes just as wonderful alone as it does in an elaborate dish.
It’s a constant side dish for many of my meals. I also love broccoli in a stir-fry. You can also add broccoli to:
- Fried rice
I think broccoli tastes best when it has a slight char.
Onions are an integral ingredient in most dishes, whether it’s raw in a salad or cooked into stews, stir-fries, and soups.
Onions are the flavor foundation that gives a dish depth. The best winter onions are white or yellow onions.
I use diced onions to elaborate any number of winter stews, from Texas Chili to Beef bourguignon.
Even though I hate the cold, pears offer a worthy consolation prize.
There are dozens of varieties, each with different colors, shapes, tastes, and textures.
I like to buy a variety and display them in a wooden bowl for holiday parties.
That is, before I slice them up and use them in my favorite winter dessert: a pear tart!
Fennel is a herb that has a strong anise flavor. It’s native to the coastal Mediterranean and used as a flavoring agent for everything from meat to absinthe.
My favorite fennel dish is fennel sausage.
The strong, almost sweet flavor pairs wonderfully with savory meat. Fennel sausage is my go-to pizza topping.
Turnips are a round, white bulbous root veggie with a mild flavor and less starch than a potato.
Unlike carrots or beets, turnips cannot be enjoyed raw.
I like roasting or steaming them to turn them into a silky puree and serving them with a glass of red wine.
Cabbage comes in a wide range of colors and textures.
In the Americas, we’re used to purple and green varieties, while in Asia Napa cabbage is popular.
Cabbage offers a neutral flavor and hearty texture when served raw, or shredded in salads or coleslaw.
For a warm dish, I like to saute cabbage with oil, vinegar, and sugar.
A member of the onion and garlic family, leeks look like giant spring onions with a rough outer layer.
Leeks are the sweetest onion variety and cooking them multiplies their sweetness.
Their sweetness masks any trace of an oniony flavor. One of my staple winter meals is potato leek soup.
Pomegranates are unique winter fruits native to the Middle East but popular worldwide.
They have thick pink skin that you peel off to reveal small, dark pink, fruit-covered seeds.
Because there’s more seed than fruit, pomegranates are best used as garnishes or juices.
There’s nothing more delicious than fresh-pressed pomegranate juice.
Squash is another native American vegetable that offers a vast variety of different shapes, textures, and flavors.
Butternut squash is by far my favorite type of squash. Its sweet flesh is starchy like a sweet potato without carbohydrates.
I love butternut squash soup, but my favorite way to eat it is by chopping it into bite-sized chunks and roasting it with salt and pepper.
A native Asian fruit, persimmons are some of the sweetest fruits I’ve ever tasted.
They look like giant, orange blueberries. They’re the size of an orange, with thin skin and orangish red flesh. The flesh is:
Since they’re so sweet, I like to eat them over sour Greek yogurt for breakfast.
Cranberries are inherently sour on their own.
However, they have so many uses in cuisines around the world. We juice them, dry them, and reduce them into sweet, tangy sauces.
Nothing screams winter like a cup of hot apple cider. Apples are one of the most widely available fruits on earth.
In the U.S. and other colder countries, farmers’ markets and grocery stores house an endless variety.
My local grocery store has a flavor profile diagram to help you decide which of the dozens of apple varieties best suits your taste.
For me, the crisper and harder, the better. My favorite apples are jazz apples.
Kale is a green leafy vegetable, but it’s also a member of the cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower family.
Its leaves are a deep, almost iridescent green with ruffled edges that make for a lovely texture.
Kale is as thick and tough as a cabbage leaf, but I like to eat it raw in a salad.
Rutabagas are the most bitter of all the root vegetables, but their distinct flavor adds complexity to any root vegetable mix.
Rutabagas are a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, which accounts for the starchy root texture and the bitter flavor characteristic of the cabbage family.
Pumpkins are the most iconic squash. They are both decorative and delicious.
We’ll use them as jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, then buy canned pumpkin puree to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
Pumpkin spice is the new fad flavor for everything from lattes to ice cream.
A classic dish in the Deep South, collard greens are a flavorful green leafy vegetable that is thicker than Swiss Chard but thinner than kale.
While it’s as healthy and nutrient-rich as any leafy veggie, its classic southern preparation pairs it with ham hocks and bacon.
Still, there’s no better way to enjoy collard greens!
- Brussels Sprouts
- Potatoes – Sweet Potatoes and White Potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Collard Greens
If you’re looking for a comforting winter meal, my list of winter fruits and vegetables offers hearty options to elaborate any stew, soup, or puree. Winter fruits and vegetables are filling and nutritious parts of a well-rounded winter diet.
Let me know what your favorite winter fruit or vegetable is!
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