Creative cooking with winter veg

This post was originally published on Shona’s blog here and reposted with his permission.

We may be seeing signs of Spring, outdoors and in stores, but the majority of seasonal farm shop veg is still rooted (ha, see what I did there??) in winter. It’s so easy to get stuck in the same old, same old supermarket sweep of veg which we generally boil, or sometimes roast, if we’re feeling fancy. And we would be forgiven for thinking that our own locally grown, seasonal winter vegetables are few and far between. Not so! There’s actually an abundance of beautiful Scottish produce over winter, and on the outside edges which skirt with Autumn and Spring, there’s even more.

I genuinely love colourful farm shops and grocers brimming with vegetables. It gets my creative mind thinking about what I can make from it all, and the vibrance nourishes my soul. But you don’t have to be a vegetable fanatic to enjoy locally grown.

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(Grewar’s farm shop)

Sourcing local veg

There are a number of places I get veg from that isn’t a supermarket. Fraser’s fruit and veg on Dundee’s Perth Road is a great wee shop. A mixture of local, regional and further afield, Fraser is delighted to chat to you about where his produce is from. Then there are a number of farmers markets in the area – Perth the first Saturday of every month, Forfar the second Saturday, Dundee the third Saturday. There’s also four markets a month at Fife locations.  And there’s farm shops… Balgove Larder is on the outskirts of St Andrews. It’s a beautiful shop which sells many local produce and products, and I use it if I’m in the area and in a hurry to pick something up. For me it’s a little too commercialised and over-priced to be any more than a handy stop-off. Further in to deepest darkest Fife is Pillars of Hercules. It’s an organic farm, farm shop and cafe, and it’s just magical. It’s more of a day out than a pop-to-the-shops kinda place. You can walk farm trails and see how they grow their veg. Also on my list regularly is Ardross Farm Shop on the East Neuk coast. Such a wonderful shop, which showcases what they grow on their farm and beyond. They don’t believe in organic certification, but they don’t use any pesticides etc in their growing, and everything, including their beef and lamb, is traditionally raised. Lastly, and my personal favourite, is Grewar’s, tucked away at Dronley Farm in Auchterhouse just north of Dundee. This is the place I go most often, and here’s why:

  • Grewar’s only sell from Scottish producers – everything in the shop from coffee to gin to beef to cheese, is made by Scottish producers, and their veg is about as local as it gets.
  • They only sell seasonal veg – everything you see has come from the region, keeping their carbon footprint very low and on the friendlier side of climate change.
  • Local and seasonal is better for you – their own carrots and potatoes are often so fresh that there’s still wet mud on them, meaning most of the nutrients remain in tact instead of being lost in transit (literally) by being shipped in.
  • The shop gang are nice people – it’s small, welcoming and honest. I feel their warmth even if it’s chilly outside!
  • It’s reasonably priced – this may be why I like the people so much. I don’t feel ripped off. I feel like they’re on my side. You won’t pay much more than you would in a supermarket for the basic veg, and when you do, it’s for a good reason.
  • I like knowing that I’m supporting them, their farm and their wider business. Simple. Warm and fuzzy feelings abound!

So once you know where to go, what do you buy? Here’s a recent haul of winter veg…Broccoli isn’t always available locally throughout winter, but this year Ardross had it for a while. And purple sprouting broccoli starts in Feb/Mar. Most of the rest will be available, and there’s also celeriac (great for soup) and kale (great for anything!).

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Once you’ve got the veg, you can get creative with how you use it. Many of the nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, meaning that your body can’t access all of their lovely nutrition if they’re not eaten with fat, so you’ll notice that my favourite winter veg recipes here all contain fat of some sort:

Sesame carrot noodles

Root vegetable mash

Spiced cauliflower rice

Braised cabbage with bacon

Roasted root vegetables

Shredded brussel sprouts with leeks and bacon

So get shopping locally! Get cooking! Get creative! And get more seasonal veg into your diet! If these recipes don’t float your boat, there are always endless soups. Have fun 🙂

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