It has been an unusually warm and extremely dry January (and winter for that matter) here in Los Angeles. On the contrary, it seems the rest of the country has been experiencing colder weather that’s crippled most of the holiday season. This leaves the winter garden baron and gardeners staring out their windows longing for warmer, sunnier days. Here in zone 10b, it’s a good time of year to clean up and repot succulents, cactus, and any indoor plants you may have. Starting seeds on a sunny windowsill for late February planting is also in your favor, you might even be able to get away starting tomato seeds right about now! For the colder climates, having a greenhouse or cold frames are really paying off right now. Cultivating hearty winter greens will be the best bang for your buck this time of year. As for the kitchen and market, produce has been looking lovely in the root vegetable, allium, citrus, and leafy green department. Let’s take a closer look.
Lemons, limes, and oranges are bountiful at the local markets this month. We really can’t get enough! If I’m feeling a little under the weather, I usually boil a bit of water and mix it with a wedge of lemon, a tablespoon of good honey, and a chunk of fresh ginger. The high vitamin C content in citrus does a great job battling seasonal colds and keeping your skin glowing.
Grapefruits are also looking beautiful this month. Plump and tender, these comes in a few varieties-pink, white, and even the pomelo variation (technically not a grapefruit). Sprinkled with a little sugar or honey or added into your favorite winter citrus salad, these tart and bitter citrus are a good palate cleanser.
Beets were in season last month, but they are looking twice as big and twice as sweet this month, just gorgeous! Packed with vitamins and minerals, beets can we shaved raw, roasted with garlic, juiced, or my personal favorite sous vide for an hour or two.
Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes contain a great source of vitamin C and B6, manganese, phosphorus, and niacin. The key to receiving all those nutritional benefits however is to keep the skin on. Roasting them with a bit of olive oil, garlic, and thyme is one of my favorite easy preparations.
Parsnips are a cross between a carrot, parsley, and a turnip. Being a member of the carrot family, parsnips can be prepared many of the same ways a carrot can. They are beautifully sweet when roasted with a tab of butter, salt, pepper, honey, and mustard. With their high vitamin C content, parsnips aid in eye health and improves digestive function.
Mizuna is a Japanese winter green found within the brassica family. It can be both mild and spicy, light green to purple, an excellent addition to any salad. It’s high levels of vitamin K and antioxidants promote anti-aging and longevity.
Lacinato Kale continues to be in season this month, and it looks better than last. As kale rising in popularity, so does it’s uses and preparations. Braised kale with a touch of heavy cream and sautéed mushrooms makes for a warm and cozy weeknight meal.
Radicchio and Envide are also perfect cool season crops that are hanging around the markets this time of year. Look for the heads that are firm and tight with clean colors and a nice root on the bottom. These bitter winter greens pair well in a salad with pears and stilton cheese.
Onions can be found and cultivated year round, but the cooler months are it’s true season. Typically located in the foundation of many dishes, roasted onions with a lemon and Dijon vinaigrette are a delicious side dish to a nice piece of protein.
Shallots are also in season right now. Look for firm heads the size of 1-2 golf balls. Sprinkled with a little sugar and roasted in the oven with oil and sherry vinegar makes for a decadent caramelized shallot dish. With some fresh parsley on top? It’s really tough to beat. Bon Appetit!