In season, eating locally in Vermont is a beautiful thing. The bounty of organic local food at harvest time is unparalleled in New England. But winter poses some different culinary challenges (most of them accentuated by garlic of course): winter vegetables.
Initially, the thought of winter vegetables conjured for me images of exotic plants on the Star Ship Enterprise: delicate green tendrils under Romulan glass. I thought that there was some class of veggies I did not know. Maybe something that grows in snow or under ice. Eventually I learned that winter vegetables are the earthy ones that store well in winter. These are the small wonders that have kept our kind going through New England winters since we first rocked Plymouth: potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, and parsnips; winter squashes such as, butternut, acorn, spaghetti and Hubbard, and some cabbages. This bounty is bettered by garlic.
Some of these veggies are fairly new to me. I remember the first time I confronted a kohlrabi. I was terrified. Our CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription that year delivered an overabundance of kohlrabi. I learned that it is good raw (when young) in salads, but even better braised with lemon and garlic (a Vermont localvore would substitute a splash of cider vinegar for the lemon).
Other great winter vegetable and garlic pairings include:
Roasted Carrots and Garlic – Tossed with sunflower oil and butter, salt and pepper,
roasted at 400 degrees. This technique works well for beets, too.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Drop several cloves into the water with the potatoes as they boil, mash them together with cream or use some of the broth from boiling. This works well for turnips also.
Cabbage and Garlic – Saute shredded cabbage slowly in butter and garlic. The result is unexpected and amazing.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup – brush with oil (I wish olive oil was local, but sunflower oil or butter will do nicely) and roast garlic cloves and halved squash until smelling wonderful. Add a boiled potato, caramelized onions, your favorite stock and some local yogurt. Puree with your favorite spices.
Vermont Food and Farm Links
Winter CSAs (community supported agriculture)
Clearbrook Farm, Shaftsbury
Intervale Community Farm, Burlington
Maple Wind Farm, Huntington
Stony Loam Farm, Charlotte
Here’s a relevant read: The care and enjoyment of winter vegetables.