3 surprising vegetables that are in season right now

A North Fork veggie-loving chef surveys the winter harvest and offers some cooking suggestions for the stranger veggies in the bunch.
seasonal vegetables
Bounty from Chef Deborah Pittorino’s recent farmer’s market run.

The dawn of December means no more deep red tomatoes at the farmer’s market. But just because the weather’s getting colder doesn’t mean you have to give up eating seasonally, says Deborah Rivera, the chef and owner of the North Fork’s Greenporter Hotel and Cuvee restaurant.

Rivera’s known for cooking super seasonally, riding her bike to farm stands on a daily basis. And she posts farm-fresh recipes on her blog, Seasoned Fork. “They’re great for the city people who come out in their Zipcar, buy up everything at the farmer’s market, then get home and say, ‘There’s a giant cauliflower in my trunk and I don’t know what to do with it!” she says.

We asked her to survey the winter harvest and she gave us three surprising vegetables that are in season right now. Here’s what to do with them:

1. Winter white root vegetables
Turnips, parsnips, and rutabaga tend to scare people off, says Rivera, but they’re delicious this time of year. “You don’t want to put too much other stuff in with them because you actually want to taste them,” she explains. “People end up dumping too much garlic or onions or salt.” Her Winter White Bisque (recipe here) is a favorite at Cuvee this time of year.

Romenescu, the Martian-looking veggie

2. Cauliflower
It may not be the most surprising selection of the season, but Rivera says people so often don’t know how to cook the nutrient-dense veggie. The answer: You could roast it in cross sections with olive oil, salt, and pepper on 400 degrees, serve it creamy like mashed potatoes with cumin, or “saute it with walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts.” And it’s full of happy-making nutrients like vitamin B6 and folate and even packs a serious antioxidant punch.

3. Romenescu broccoli
You may not recognize this funky veggie that Rivera describes as resembling a “green cauliflower from Mars,” but it’s a healthy choice this time of year. “You can blanche and saute it or eat it raw,” she explains. “Just treat it like a cauliflower.” —Lisa Elaine Held

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