At this time of year we might usually be anxious for spring to come, but the warm weather we’ve been having is giving the false impression that it has actually arrived. You wonder why we can’t we just enjoy the real thing with no more worrying about a winter storm.
And normally, we wouldn’t expect to see any produce other than what we have seen — root veggies from the root cellar, apples from cold storage and the occasional small picking of hardy greens. But I sympathize with those of you who come to market on a 50-degree day and expect to see more! Believe me, the farmers are thinking the same thing, and many of our favorite farmers are planting early in their greenhouses and planning to plant more winter crops next fall.
In the dead of winter, no matter the temperature, we always encourage you to continue to buy and eat as much local food as possible to reinforce your commitment, even when the selection is slim. And even when you are at the grocery store, try to buy produce that is seasonal for our area. Much of this produce has a long shelf life, and it is easy to have winter squash, beets, turnips, carrots, onions and potatoes on hand in your own cellar or refrigerator at all times for soups, stews and even skillet sautes, like the one I am passing along today.
Annie Sidley, our market “demo diva,” has come up with some wonderful market-based recipes, many of which I have already shared with you or posted on our website. This recipe is another one that begins and ends in the skillet with a quick trip for some of the ingredients through a 4-quart pot for blanching. Look around and think about what you have on hand that benefits from the same herbs and spices; balances protein, carbs and vegetables; and comes together in a one-dish meal similar to this one, which I literally invented last night. If you learn to keep these ingredients on hand, you can do this every night of the week.
Another Winter Stir-Fry
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled, cubed
- 2 or 3 carrots, sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
- 1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved
- 1 pound sausage of any kind, removed from casings and crumbled
- Chicken or beef stock
Saute onion and fennel in about 2 tablespoons of your favorite oil till soft and beginning to color, about five minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the potatoes and carrots together for 3 minutes, then add the sprouts and boil for another 2–3 minutes; drain well.
Add the sausage to the onions and fennel in the skillet and brown over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Drain fat from the pan and add the blanched vegetables to the sausage mixture.
Add stock to the mix — start with about one-half cup and bring to a boil; cook down to thicken a little and add more stock if necessary to keep mixture moist and simmer for 5–8 minutes more. Along with the stock, add any herbs or spices and salt and pepper to taste. I was using a very simple ground pork sausage seasoned with only salt and pepper, so I added some thyme, both fresh and dried, but the ingredients you select will inform the amount and variety of herbs and spices you use.
Serve with your favorite whole-grain bread or cornbread and enjoy!
Obviously, you can substitute or add other root veggies such as turnips, parsnips or rutabagas. Or use sweet potatoes instead of a white variety. And any green would do too — cabbage, collards or kale. If you choose one of these greens, slice thinly about two cups’ worth and add to the onion and fennel saute rather than blanching. And you can even use a good German or Italian link sausage; slice it 1/2-inch thick and substitute it for the ground sausage.
See how easy that is — and it takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish!