February

What's in Season this February?

This month's best veg:
Leeks and Rhubarb

The colder weather is the perfect time to enjoy home grown British produce and immerse yourself in rich thick stews, steaming home made soup, and mouth watering pies and pot roasts. Plus seasonal food is fresher so it tastes better - which is why we say embrace the winter!

But while leeks and rhubarb are this month’s stars, don’t forget to see what else is in season and perfect for eating right now. Also, why not check out our winter warmer recipes for February ranging from some classic dishes to some with a real modern twist.

Lastly, take a little time to discover the story of the true food heroes: the British farmers who provide us with their delicious fruit and veg for your table throughout the winter.

See what else is in season just now >

Check out our interactive seasonal wheel >

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Leeks

Nick Allpress, Isleham Fresh Produce  Ltd

We’ve been growing Leeks on our farm for 31 years on our farms in Cambridgeshire and lands in Norfolk and Suffolk. The business was started by my father and we now produce 8,250 tonnes of leeks per year.

The colder weather can make brassica availability very erratic which puts additional pressure on us to produce enough leeks.

The best way to eat leeks is to roast them, slice down the middle and drizzle with olive oil until lightly caramelised... Delicious.

Nick Allpress,
Isleham Fresh Produce Ltd
The best way to eat them
The leek is one vegetable that is at its best during the coldest months of the year.

It is a fantastically versatile vegetable; one that can be roasted, baked or braised. With a milder, sweeter flavour than onions and a smooth texture similar to asparagus, leeks make a fantastically flavoursome vegetable side dish. To make your side dish extra tasty sauté in butter, and finish with fresh nutmeg and lemon juice.

Leeks are also great in casseroles, omelettes and frittatas, risottos, quiches, pasta sauces, stir fries and soups.
My top tip
When cooking leeks as a side dish, it is important they are not overcooked. Overcooking will turn them mushy. They should be cooked until tender but still exert a little resistance when pierced.

Another great tip is to use the dark green trimmed leaves as flavouring in a stock. Leeks are at their tastiest when served alongside either veal, cheese or chicken.

Rhubarb

Lindsey Oldroyd, T&JB Produce Ltd

We have been supplying the Co-operative with Rhubarb for two years and have been growing rhubarb since the 1930’s on our farm in Leeds.

The cold weather forces us in indoors from January to March but to see all of the perfectly formed sticks ready for harvest, gives an immense feeling of achievement and pleasure.

Rhubarb is a true British classic, and to know that
Co-operative customers up and down the nation are eating our Rhubarb makes my job a total pleasure.

Lindsey Oldroyd, T&JB Produce Ltd
The best way to eat them
The delicate and slender shockingly pink stems of rhubarb are a welcome sight at the start of the year, bringing a sharp yet refreshing clean tasting flavour to cleanse and invigorate.

The perfect accompaniments to sweet recipes, roast whole rhubarb with honey and serve with ice cream or alongside a delicious sticky ginger cake. Rhubarb’s sharpness works extremely well with rich meat and oily fish dishes.

Try serving your Rhubarb alongside roast pork or grilled mackerel.
My top tip
Rhubarb goes very well with either orange or ginger, try using rhubarb in savoury recipes. Rhubarb goes particularly well with any high fat meat such as pork, lamb or goose it is also a great accompaniment to oily fish such as mackerel or salmon.
 

Also look out for these products that are in season and in store

  • cauliflower
  • turnips
  • cabbage
  • parsnip
  • kale
  • swede
  • shallots

The arrival of February see's a whole host of fantastic fruit and vegetables come into their own.

Ranging from leafy green cabbage and roots such as parsnips and turnips there really is something for everybody in the family to enjoy.

Want to find the keys behind many of our delcious winter classics?

Simply click on an image opposite to find out more.

With a mildly sweet, almost nutty flavour, crisp and freshflavored cauliflower is a versatile seasonal favourite.

Excellent when lightly steamed, roasted or stir-fried. It’s receptiveness to spicier flavours like cumin, turmeric, chilli and ginger renders it invaluable in many Indian dishes.

For a delicious thick and creamy soup, puree cooked cauliflower with vegetable stock and milk, and stir in handfuls of your favourite blue cheese.

With creamy coloured skin and a purple crown, turnips have a rounded flavour which is sweet and slightly peppery.

Smaller turnips are sweeter and tenderer than the larger ones. Peel off the skin and cut it into bite-sized chunks and add to a rich beef casserole or stew.

Very small and sweet turnips can even be shaved raw into salads. Larger chunks can be roasted like potatoes alongside meat or poultry until crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, it can also be boiled or steamed.

The flavour intensifies during cooking so avoid cooking for too long or the taste can be a bit overpowering. And to keep the flavour mild, don't overcook.

With its crisp texture and wonderful bright green leave the green cabbage is a real chef's favourite.

Cabbage can be enjoyed in many ways, boiled, steamed or stir fried. Try stir fried with garlic, ginger and chilli, Why not stir into cooked potatoes and pan fry for a delicious bubble and squeak. A portion of cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin A and is high in fibre too.

With their soft flesh and sweet mellow flavour, parsnips add a warming element to comforting winter dishes.

Mash with cooked carrots for a colourful side dish, for a more exotic dish, toss parsnip wedges in olive oil and a little curry paste, roast until tender and serve with mango chutney and raita.

Whole roast parsnips are delicious drizzled with honey and sesame seeds, or spiced with cumin and accompanied by a sour cream dip flavoured with lemon and coriander.

Raw parsnips are also delicious when grated in a salad

Kale is part of the cabbage family. It has attractive dark green leaves and has a rich pungent flavour with peppery notes.

Try shredding and adding to Indian dishes, soups and stir fry’s. It is packed with foliate and Vitamin C and is high in fibre and protein too.

Larger than the turnip and with a rough skin that is partly orange and partly purple, the Swedes' shabby appearance belies its fine texture and distinctive, sweet tasting flesh. When roasted or mashed swede makes a simple delicious side dish.

Swede is the traditional accompaniment to haggis in Scotland where they are known as neeps. Look for bright, small Swedes with smooth, unblemished skins, larger Swedes are likely to be tough.

Although related to the onion, shallots have a much milder sweeter flavour. Look for shallots that are firm and with no dark spots

Shallots are the ideal ingredient for classic winter dishes like a hearty beef bourguignon or tender slow braised lamb shanks. Their high sugar content also means they're great when caramelised. They are also high in fibre too.