Good Things To Eat In January
The trees are bare but already the days are brighter and longer, the snowdrops are out, the green shoots of the daffodils are just beginning to show as well as the tulips I planted in pots in the autumn.
Although my own garden looks bleak right now, January is actually a season of wonderful produce and lots of good things to eat. So what is in season here in Ireland and the UK and then a bit further afield, primarily Spain and Italy. There are lots of good things to eat in January.
First off the local produce, savoy cabbages are superb, look out for locally grown with deep green leaves and a firm centre. I finely slice the leaves and cook very simply in boiling salted water (without a lid- this keeps your cabbage lovely and green, same goes for all green leafy vegetables) until just tender. Then drain really well, put it in a warm bowl, and drizzle with really good extra virgin olive oil or a knob of butter and a good pinch of salt.
I do exactly the same with Cavolo Nero which is the really dark green Italian Kale which is becoming more easily available here and actually grows very easily here in Ireland. Needless to say that dark leafy greens are so highly nutritious and actually a great source of calcium too.
Cavolo Nero is great in a Minestrone soup and I have been making this very often in January, I make a large pot and then get at least three days out of it. You can find my recipe here.
Beetroot I’ve been buying from my local veg weekend stall and using it to make juice along with apple, celery and immune-boosting fresh ginger.
Leeks, soup celery, celery, cauliflower are all great right now and I’m making the most of lovely soup celery and leeks to make chicken soup often. If you’re lucky you might find some purple sprouting broccoli.
Fennel from Italy is delicious right now. Look out for firm crisp bright green bulbs. Usually, I roast the fennel until deliciously golden and scatter it on top of a salad. It’s also great raw finely sliced in a salad with pomegranates and orange segments. If I have the time I make a fennel and potato gratin. You can this and lots of other recipes here.
Radicchio with its bitter deep pink leaves brightens up any salad at this time of year and works well with the pomegranates and orange segments or simply with slivers of parmesan and a really good olive oil.
Pomegranates are in season now in Sicily and are a super antioxidant. I was lucky enough to see them growing in the beautiful city of Syracuse a few years ago.
January is the month to make marmalade with lovely Seville oranges from Spain. Seville oranges are very bitter and full of pith and pips ( which are full of pectin and it is this gives the marmalade that all-important set) but make the most wonderful marmalade. My parents always made their own marmalade and they made it together patiently finely slicing all of the skins by hand. When I took over making the marmalade which at the time I sold at St. Georges’ market in Belfast, my mother retired and my father and I made it together. It is a labour of love and for. a few weeks every January or early February we spent whole days doing little else. The Seville oranges have a very short season but they do freeze very well, just wash them well and weigh them out first.
Look out too for lovely blood oranges from Sicily.
If you have any queries do get in touch.