How to choose local and seasonal for your winter cooking

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By Themis Chryssidis and Callum Hann

In case you haven’t noticed, winter is well and truly here.

The days are shorter, the evenings chilly, and the rain coming down. So, what grows best during these weather conditions? Don’t try to memorise lists of vegetables, instead follow your instinct and look around you!

During the winter, resilient fruits and vegetables that can withstand the harsh weather conditions grow best. Think: root vegetables such as potatoes, beetroot, carrots, parsnip, celeriac and radish that flourish in the wet soil and are protected from the harsh weather conditions.

Then there are those that like wet, moist conditions, limited sunshine, and sit low to the ground, such as broccoli, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms.

Don’t forget fruits that have thick skins to protect their flesh from the winter weather, such as oranges, mandarins, lemons and passionfruit.

If you’re not overly confident with exactly how your fruits and vegetables grow, then look around you.

One of the easiest ways to determine if a fruit or vegetable is in season is the cost, quantity and variety. Seasonal produce is lower in cost, readily available and there are more varieties to choose from.

If you still need a little help, shop at a local grocer or market where you can talk to a retailer who will be able to offer valuable advice and recommendations.

This winter (and all year round), follow your intuition and eat with the seasons. The produce is fresher, more nutritious, full flavoured and lasts longer, but most of all you are supporting local producers!

For a recipe making the most of local, seasonal produce – try our rack of lamb with winter roast vegetables, we know you’ll love it.

Herb Crusted Lamb with Beetroot, Pumpkin and Lentil Salad
Serves 4

Mouth watering yet?

Ingredients:
4 beetroot
1 cup brown lentils
½ radicchio, thinly sliced
1 bunch parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ jap pumpkin, cut into wedges
1 bunch heirloom carrots, trimmed
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
4 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon extra
1 lamb rack of 8 cutlets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped
60g feta, crumbled

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Wrap beetroot in foil and place on the baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes. Add pumpkin and carrots to the baking tray, and drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil. Roast vegetables for a further 30 minutes or until golden and tender. Remove from the oven. Once the beetroots have cooled slightly, wear gloves to rub their skins off and cut into wedges.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Boil lentils for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Combine lentils, radicchio, half the parsley leaves, and red wine vinegar in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. To prepare the herb crust, combine breadcrumbs, remaining half of the parsley, rosemary, garlic, salt and remaining one tablespoon oil in a small bowl.
4. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add lamb rack, skin side down, and cook for five minutes or until golden brown and the fat has rendered into the pan. Spread skin side of lamb rack with mustard. Pat herb crust onto the mustard to adhere. Place on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Set aside to rest before carving into cutlets.
5. Place lentil mixture on the bottom of a large serving plate or bowl. Arrange beetroot, pumpkin and carrot on top. Garnish with almonds and feta. Serve with lamb cutlets.

 

PHOTO: James Knowler / JK+Crew

Themis is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and managing director of Sprout. He loves good food, great wine and sharing these with friends and family.  He is passionate about food and health and helping others to understand how these can be enjoyed together!

Callum, a cook and author, founded and operates Sprout with Themis. He draws his inspiration from the seasons and using the best possible local produce. He loves to show people how easy it can be to create quick, delicious and healthy meals.

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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