Of all the good intentions of the new year, eating food in season is a habit worth forming. Not only does it get you a higher quality of fruit and veg for your money, it's also better for the planet. How virtuous.
The Eat Seasonably website can keep you up to date on what to eat on a month by month basis, with their clever spinning calendar gadget. But, for now, here's what to put on your shopping list for January.
The humble carrot is good pretty much all year round, but really peaks in January, when the rest of us are generally at our worst. Carrots are great with hummus, either in a crudités and dipping scenario, or grated into a sandwich. They work well in stews and slow cooking, and they love to be roasted. Pair with orange or lemon for a distinctive taste.
There's no denying kale is funny looking, but it also has a unique flavour. Not as hardy than other members of the cabbage family, it only requires a few minutes of steaming or sautéing to reach its tender best. Serve as a side dish, fried in butter and plenty of lemon juice, or combine with potato to make a sturdy colcannon or bubble and squeak.
I am a huge advocate of this much maligned vegetable, which I believe has gained a bad reputation thanks to a generation of over-cooking. If we could all just learn to stir fry our sprouts rather than boiling them to oblivion, I'm certain the world would be a much happier place. Fry for a few minutes in olive oil, garlic and pancetta, and then tell me I'm wrong.
The exception to the 'for best results sauté in lots of butter and lemon juice' rule for January's vegetables, cauliflower is generally good for one thing: covering in a thick layer of cheese sauce, sprinkling with a load more grated cheese, and baking in a hot oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Lemon is vital in January, not only for sprucing up the various vegetable dishes listed above, but also to ward off the inevitable coughs and colds of the season. Sachets of medicated hot drinks are never going to taste as good as a mug of hot water, honey and lemon. Stuff chunks of lemon into your chicken before roasting, then for dessert serve a delicious lemon & poppyseed loaf.
Apples & Pears
The sturdy winter fruits. At this time of year apples stay crunchy for weeks, and you have the best chance of catching your pear before it's turned so soft that half of it pours down your arm upon first bite. Slice them into chunks and give them pride of place in the inevitable healthy eating regime. Or, when the healthy eating regime is inevitably disregarded, cover them in cinnamon and bake them in a cake.
Image via dimnikolov's Flickr