Cook’s notes: shine a light on winter veggies

Try shining a light on winter veggies with these mouthwatering recipes – create visual delights to brighten up your winter culinary options.

Welcome to November! It's cold outside so lets stay cosy by making the best of the season's veg.

Welcome to November! It’s cold outside so lets stay cosy by making the best of the season’s veg.

If you have a veggie box delivered at this time of year you always feel a wee bit daunted – turnips, pumpkins, beetroot, and of course potatoes. Even looking at them on supermarket shelves does not inspire you to pick them up with the idea of creating a tasty meal. I came across this rather interesting quote from an old cookery book “Cooking For Every Household” by Florence Jack. (1950) ‘The cooking of vegetables is not difficult but the simplicity of the operation must not be made an excuse for slovenly treatment’. How true this can sometimes be.

Think again!

Pumpkins can be baked, roasted, mashed or added to soups. Choosing herbs and warming spices will add delicious flavours and literally ‘spice-up’ the final result. They can be utilized in many different ways: as a stand-alone meal, as a centrepiece for dinner parties or even as a sharing plate for cosy winter suppers. But pumpkins are so much more than just Halloween lanterns! Full of the antioxidant Vitamin A, they actually provide the essential vitamin to improve your eyesight!

Pumpkin with Cashell Blue sauce - rich and delicious.

Pumpkin with Cashell Blue sauce – rich and delicious.

Shining a light on turnips can be difficult. We all regard turnips as generally overcooked and made into mash and served with haggis. But we do not need to follow that route. (pun not intended). Presentation is also the key issue with root vegetables. Turnips can be used in soups, vegetable curries, sliced and roasted with maple syrup. Packed with Vitamin C, it’s the perfect way to fight winter colds and flu!

Next up in the limelight is uncooked beetroot. We all recognize the bottled kind – soaked in vinegar and generally lurks in a cupboard for many months without seeing the light. Fresh beetroot bought at this time of year tastes absolutely delicious. Choose plump, even-sized beets with smooth skins – ideal for roasting in a slow oven and delicious both hot or cold. High in potassium for a healthy heart and folate to prevent anaemia, it’s the perfect healthy food to complement any meal.

Pots of Pumpkin

Baked Pumpkin with Cashel Blue Cheese cream
An impressive starter or a main meal to share with friends and a great culinary talking point. Cashell Blue cheese is a delicious soft cows milk cheese from County Cork, Ireland. Very subtle blue cheese flavour and very buttery. Available from I.J. Mellis. Check out their range of delicious cheeses and their tasting room is an ideal way to learn about good quality cheese choices.
Recipe type: Starter, main
Cuisine: European
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 Medium sized pumpkin (orange flesh), washed
  • 1 large red pepper,washed
  • 350ml thick double cream
  • 25g good quality butter
  • 200g Cashel Blue Cheese (or Gruyere)
  • 4 slices of Prosciutto
  • Freshly-ground Black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Tbsp chopped chives
  1. Wash pumpkin then cut off top.
  2. Scoop out seeds and fibrous flesh.
  3. Remove seeds and dice red pepper slice.
  4. Chop Cashel blue cheese (or cheese of choice) into medium chunks.
  5. Fry the prosciutto slices slowly until crisp, then slice finely.
  6. Combine the diced red pepper, double cream, and prosciutto, and season to taste.
  7. Add all ingredients to the scooped out pumpkin shell, add 25g butter, replace the pumpkin lid, wrap the pumpkin in baking foil, place on a large baking tray the cook in a pre-heated oven at approximately 200 C (400F) for 1½ to 2 hours, removing the lid 15 minutes before end of cooking time.
  8. Sprinkle over the chopped chives and serve immediately.


Beetroot Buzz

Cooking fresh beetroot can seem time consuming, however it tastes so much better. Try out new textures and new colours with your roasted beetroot – use it hot or cold. In soups with herbs or served as a plain side dish with cold meats such as ham or lamb, or a delicious salsa made with crème fraiche and mint or even in a winter salad with salad leaves, walnuts and a herb dressing.

Roasted beetroot
Delicious and oh so good for you, these roasted beetroot use a generous helping of butter for a richer flavour.
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: European
Serves: 2-4
  • 3-4 fresh beetroot bulbs, scrubbed.
  • 200g butter.
  • Freshly-ground black pepper.
  • Sea salt.
  1. Top the beetroot bulbs with knobs of butter, then wrap beetroot bulbs individually in foil.
  2. Place on a baking tray and roast in a slow pre-heated oven at 140 C for 1½ hours until medium soft.
  3. Allow the beets to cool then gently peel away outer skin. Ready to use in a recipe of your choice.

Spicy Turnip and Carrot Soup
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
Turnips are naturally sweet and pair well with carrots. A touch of curry spices adds heat and interest to this soup.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: European
Serves: 4-6
  • 50g butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp ground black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Madras curry powder
  • 2cm fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 500ml vegetable Bouillon
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tbsp crème fraiche
  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan then saute onions and sweat until translucent.
  2. Stir in ground coriander seeds, black mustard seeds, curry powder and grated ginger root.
  3. Add the turnip, carrots and bouillon, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Blend until smoothly pureed then season to taste.
  5. Stir in the crème fraiche, heat through and serve immediately.

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