Organic Winter Vegetables

Organic Winter Vegetables

I get sad when winter rolls around, as nearly all of my favorite organic vegetables disappear from the market. I realized today that I am partially to blame for my seasonal produce depression. I make the vegetables that I am comfortable with and carelessly waltz past those that are unfamiliar.

I decided to buy whatever organic vegetables I saw that made me even slightly uncomfortable. Anytime I saw a something tuberous, I grabbed it. If it was bumpy, ugly, or scarred, I placed it in my basket. It was sort of fun, but I did allow myself a few favorites. I must confess, however, that I was unable to completely follow my own rules when I shamefully ignored not one but two different varieties of beets.

I’m just not ready for beets. I don’t want to talk about it.

While I’m confessing, I should also admit that I had no idea what one one of the vegetables I purchased even was. I searched in vain for a sign, but finally decided to just buy it and watch the computer screen for information when the cashier rang it up. I was very pleased with this plan, and thought about what it could be as the cashier begin to sort through my small, lumpy mountain.

She scanned the purple fingerlings, the celery roots, the giant rutabaga. The turnips rang up without issue, boldly declaring themselves “purpletop” on the giant screen in front of me, and I smiled at the information. The kale, of course, wasn’t an problem, and neither were the russets. At last she came to my mystery vegetable and held it up, with a pained look on her face. Crap.

“What exactly is this?” she asked me.

“I don’t know?”

“Can you go look up the price per pound?”

“There wasn’t a sign,” I said, defeated.

Other customers waiting behind me began to inspect my basket full of winter’s bounty as help was called in over the PA system. They didn’t seem frustrated about the wait, in fact, they seemed to enjoy playing Guess the Vegetable.

“Is it an artichoke?” the man behind me asked, and I was slightly pained that he could confuse artichokes with whatever this was, but then realized that I was the one buying a common vegetable that I didn’t recognize. Someone else suggested it was perhaps a Jerusalem artichoke, but I knew that wasn’t the right answer either. The head of the produce section finally arrived, and looked equally vexed as she palmed the mystery lump. We all studied the cheat-sheet of vegetable codes, hoping to divine the answer. It was getting embarrassing.

Finally, a mother toting two children stepped up and said, “Kohlrabi.” She even spelled it. Correctly.

I sheepishly placed it in my bag, paid, and left. Now the real challenge begins. You all need to keep me honest. I’m going to try my best to use all of these, all of these, and to resist the urge the blend everything up into a soup and pretend this never happened.

I have some research to do. Thank goodness for the internet.



  1. Dianne

    Rutebegas are really good roasted with a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

    The blue potatoes make excellent oven fries.

    And I’m with you on beets! I made some soup with them a while back after reading how wonderful they were for you. It had carrots, parsnips, onion and beets cooked in veggie broth and the creamed. I didn’t care for the “earthy” flavor as the recipe described it! To be honest it tasted like dirt! In my opinion it was a waste of perfectly good carrot, onion and parsnips! :)

  2. Lolo (VeganYumYum)

    Dianne – Thanks for the ideas! The rutabagas, turnips, celery root, and kohlrabi are the things I’m worried about, so I’ll keep your roasting idea in mind. :)

    We bought a juicer a while back, and I decided to juice a half a beet with some carrots and apples. The color was fantastic, but the taste… well, I can’t even describe it! I think I forever ruined beets for myself in that moment.

  3. Anonymous

    I made turnips for the first time this year for Thanksgiving. The recipe is one from Cooking Light’s Nov. 06 issue and it’s vegan as is! I thought it was delicious. Here’s the recipe:
    1 pound turnips, trimmed & peeled
    1/4 c. water
    3 T maple syrup
    2 t chopped fresh sage
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 t freshly ground blk pepper

    Cut turnips in half and into 1/2 inch wedges (I ended up cutting them into bite-sized pieces). Combine 1/4 c. water and remaining ingredients in a large nonstick skillet over med.-high heat. Add turnips, turning to coat, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 mins. or until tender. Uncover and cook 7 mins. or until turnips are glazed. Yield 4 servings (65 calories per serving w/ 0.1g fat).


  4. springsandwells

    I totally love your blog! Your pictures are so beautiful, and I love reading all your different posts.

    Have fun with the veggies… I’ve made some nice soups with celery root, great roasted veggies with rutabega and potatoes, and I like kohlrabi raw with dip or in salad.

  5. June

    Delurking to say that I really enjoyed your story and fwded the link to my mom – we have both done similar things at the grocery! LOL.

  6. Lolo (VeganYumYum)

    vegyogini – Thanks! I think that’s what I’ll do with the turnips!! Sound delicious, but then again, I’m a sucker for maple syrup.

    springsandwells – That’s the rough plan I had for the veggies – we must be on the same wavelength. I definitely want to try the kohlrabi raw, but I’m debating between a soup and a vegan remoulade for the celery root.

    June – Yay for delurking! Thanks for the kind words. :)

  7. corrie

    I just learned what kohlrabi was this fall. I agree, it does taste good raw.

    Also, mashed rutabaga is one of my husband’s favorite sides, and I’ve got to say it is pretty tastey. They take longer than potatoes to soften up, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same deal.

  8. textual bulldog

    veganyumyum, i second (or millionth) everyone’s comments about how beautiful your blog is. i found it a little while ago and had bookmarked it for when i could come back and really explore… so educational! inspiring! so everything! …and speaking of being inspired, you (and all these commenters) are inspiring me to tackle my own fear of winter veggies… kohlrabi and rutabega here i come!

  9. Alexander

    You really should just jump in and try beets! They are a very tasty, dynamic vegetable. I don’t know what “earthy” flavor dianne is talking about, maybe she didn’t peel them. Beets are actually one of the sweetest vegetables available, good roasted, curried, boiled, even in pasta!

  10. Amy

    Ok, I just read your comment about juicing with the beets. It’s really very good in juice, if you don’t over due it, which is easy to do, because beets tend to overpower, don’t they? I used to work at a juice bar, and I would recommend juicing about 4 carrots, 1/4 beet and 1/4 – 1/2 lemon. A carrot, beet, lemon blend is one of my favorites.


    P.S. Try carrot, apple and ginger if you haven’t already. :-)

  11. best colon cleanser

    Your idea of just buying the best vegetables without knowing exactly what they are is encouraging to me.

    We get so locked into what is or isn’t good without learning to explore a bit.

    I love beets when stewed. Try adding a little honey to diminish the bitter ones though.

    Help this helps.

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