Food is the main reason I grow a winter kitchen garden, but the beauty of these hardy vegetables is a close second.
Blue-green leek spears share a bed with yellow-green parsnip leaves, and lighter green Brussels sprouts, their small, hard globes arranged like miniature cabbages along tall stalks, fill the next bed.
White outlines the tips and veins of Winterbor and White Russian Kale and Flash Collards.
Purple tints the flattened globes of January King cabbage and wraps around the rutabaga.
Other roots, carrots, beets, turnips and celery root are hidden, buried in mulch to keep the soil around them from freezing, but when I dig and wash them, their bright colors shine.
Over the next few months, I’ll harvest these winter vegetables as I need them. When the forecast is for temperatures in the low 20s, teens or lower, I’ll pile on more mulch onto the layers already there and perhaps add some tarps, but for most of our temperate marine northwest winter, these vegetables will hold well in the natural cooler of winter. They’ll be there for favorite meals as well as for new discoveries.
One wonderful new discovery, an easy and very delicious cabbage recipe, is in Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, SIMPLE (2018). I’ve made it twice already this week and will definitely make it again.
Roast cabbage with tarragon and pecorino
Serve this at room temperature, so the pecorino keeps its texture and flavor. It’s lovely as a side for roast chicken or sausages, or with a selection of cooked veg. Serves four.
½ cup olive oil
2 lemons – finely grate the zest, to get 2 tbsp, then juice, to get 2 tbsp
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
2 Napa cabbages (aka pointed cabbage), outer leaves discarded, then cut lengthways into eight wedges each (12 cups/1 kg)
½ cup/10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1oz/30g pecorino shaved (use a vegetable peeler)
Heat the oven to 450 F.
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon zest, garlic, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then transfer two tablespoons to a second bowl.
Put the cabbage wedges in a large bowl and season with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Pour the larger portion of oil mixture over the cabbage and toss to coat. Arrange the cabbage on two oven trays lined with baking paper.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are crisp and golden brown (swap the trays around halfway through, so both get time near the higher heat at the top of the oven).
Transfer the cabbage to a platter, then leave to rest and cool for five to 10 minutes.
Mix the lemon juice into the remaining oil mixture, then drizzle evenly over the cabbage wedges. Scatter the tarragon and pecorino on top, finish with a good grind of black pepper and serve.
I used a savoy cabbage, January King, and its sweetness was a perfect match for the lemon dressing. The shaved Pecorino gives just the right salty touch and the tarragon provides a slight but tasty hint of licorice. I used dried tarragon because I didn’t have any fresh and, mixed into the oil mixture with the lemon juice, it worked well.
In his introduction to this new cookbook, Ottolenghi characterizes the approach of the book by assigning a word to each of the letters in simple.
S: Short on time
I: Ingredients, ten or fewer
M: Make ahead
L: Lazy-day dishes
E: Easier than you think.
“Easier than you think,” will speak to cooks who have found his earlier books too complex. I’m a fan of all of his work, especially Jerusalem and Plenty More, and I’m happy that SIMPLE is as exciting as his others.
There are more recipes from SIMPLE that I want to try with the winter vegetables in the kitchen garden.
Leeks: Braised Eggs with Leek and Za’atar
Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Black Garlic
Celery Root: Whole-roasted Celery Root with Coriander Seed Oil
Beef Meatballs with Lemon and Celery Root
Parsnips: Smoked Fish and parsnip cakes
Carrots: Roasted Carrots with Yogurt and Cinnamon
Beets: Roasted Beets with Yogurt and Preserved Lemon
And then there are some wonderful-sounding recipes for winter storage vegetables, especially squash. New cookbooks are so inspiring. If you’re looking for a cookbook for your Christmas list, SIMPLE could be the one.