How to Build Seasonal Winter Mains for some Added Warmth

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The cooler months are about to descend upon us and, along with allowing us to bring out out blankets and curl up with a good book, winter weather brings a range of delicious seasonal foods with it. There is a range of flavours and cooking techniques available during winter that can really add warmth to your menu. Read about them here, in our guide to building seasonal winter mains.

Slow it down

While in summer we want to stay out of the kitchen - and avoid turning on the oven at all costs - winter is the season where we turn on our slow cookers and stovetops and let the heatwaves fill the home.

Slower cooking methods make an appearance, and it’s the season where hearty, warming meals like stews and broths grace menus. While we’re still eating vegetables and fruit, they’re of the earthier kind, designed to keep you fuller and satisfy your cravings. Thanks to the slower cooking methods that are commonly seen during winter, the ingredients we use need to be denser and more carbohydrate-rich so they can break down into succulent morsels during their long cooking time.

Select the right proteins

vegetables or fruits, it’s important to select the layers of your meal carefully. If you do opt for a slower cooking time, you have the freedom to add lots of different flavours to the mix as, over time, they will all break down and merge into one.

Colder weather calls for hardier herbs like tarragon, sage and parsley, and spices like cloves, cinnamon and star anise. If you use lighter herbs such as parsley or coriander, add them in as a garnish, or right at the end of the cooking time, so they don’t break down too much and lose their structure.

Try lots of pasta, cheese and dense and crusty breads; they will hold up to the stronger winter flavours well.

Top it all off with dessert

Dessert doesn’t have to be complex; you could opt just to put seasonal fruit in a bowl and top it with a yogurt or tahini sauce. However, if you want to build in a warming element to your favourite fruit, think of ways to incorporate carbohydrates into the dish.

Top stewed rhubarb with a mixture of butter, sugar and oats and bake in the oven for a delicious rhubarb crumble. Create a tart or cake out of pineapple, or caramelise the fruit until it’s incredibly sweet.

If you eat meat, winter is the time to experiment with tougher cuts such as chuck steak. The longer time in the pot, pan or slow cooker means the tough cell structures break down, which leaves you with a deliciously tender final product.

If you prefer to skip the meat, legumes such as lentils and chickpeas are the perfect additions to your meals, and beans can be used in curries and chillis, or paired with a warming hit of spice.

Choose seasonal produce

Selecting seasonal produce and purchasing from a farmers’ market will greatly lift the quality of your meals - you’ll be able to taste the difference here, as opposed to buying imported produce that’s not in season locally.

Some vegetables that are in season from June to August include:
● Leeks
● Radishes
● Cabbage
● Potato
● Squash
● Brussels sprouts
● Celeriac
● Spinach
● Shallots
● Cauliflower
● Eggplant

Perfect when roasted or stewed, these veggies tend not to lose their flavour when exposed to heat over a long time, and add nourishment to your meals.

Fruits that are widely available at this time of year include:
● Citrus (oranges, lemons, kumquats, limes)
● Apples
● Pineapples
● Rhubarb
● Nashi
● Pawpaw
● Pomelo
● Tangelo

Adding layers to your meal.