As the fresh sweet tastes of summer produce recede each year, I rediscover the delights of winter squashes. Long-lasting and loaded with a big helping of vitamins and minerals, winter squashes are an extraordinarily versatile and flavorful staple in the cold-weather kitchen.
Although each variety has its own appeal, the long and slender pale yellow gourd known as the sweet potato or delicata squash tops my list for its ease of use and tender sweet flavor. Easy to peel and seed, and with very little loose or stringy flesh to scoop out, the scooped-out halves also make an attractive and perfect-sized serving dish — as with this Caribbean-style bean and squash recipe dressed up with peanut butter, banana and spices.
Rice, mushrooms and butter … three simple and noble foods that combine to make an extraordinarily easy and elegant side for almost any kind of meal. Remove the stems from the dried mushrooms and chop if necessary.
I've never been fond of those dry, sticky Christmas Cakes found in grocery stores this time of year, but these simple pancakes have the same festive flair with a much lighter, fluffier and fresher texture. These are perfect for serving up on a cold December morning without having to wait around for the store-bought treats to be set out, and are much tastier and more satisfying besides.
As much for its beautiful purple-red hue and distinctive sweet flavor as its nutritional benefits, the beetroot is my favorite of all winter vegetables, if not of all vegetables altogether. Beet soups are always an attractive addition to any fall or winter meal, as with beet and tomato and orange and beet soups.
I'm not nearly as fond of parsnips ordinarily, but their flavor here makes an earthy and almost bitter contrast with beets that makes their pairing a pleasant surprise. In this simple and wholesome soup, both parsnips and carrots are roasted and puréed and then added to beets separately to create multiple layers of flavor and color that will warm and please the eyes and palates of your guests.