The delicate and slender pink stems of forced rhubarb are a welcome sight at the start of the year, bringing a sharp yet refreshing flavour. Choose rhubarb with crisp, pink stalks. As a treat, try poaching chunks lightly with orange juice and sugar or roast whole with honey and serve with ice cream. Serve chilled for breakfast with low fat yoghurt and toasted nuts or spoon over pancakes. Rhubarb is perfect for comforting puddings but its sharpness also works well with rich meat and oily fish dishes.
High in fibre
Leeks are a member of onion and garlic family. They have a milder, sweeter flavour than onions and a smooth texture similar to asparagus.
Look for leeks with a firm, unblemished white lower part, and leaves that are bright green, with a crisp texture. They are a fantastically versatile vegetable; one that can be roasted, baked or braised.
High in fibre and a source of vitamin A, B1, B6 and C
With a mildly sweet, almost nutty flavour, the crisp and fresh-flavour of cauliflower is a versatile seasonal favourite. Choose a cauliflower with white heads and crisp green leaves and try lightly steaming, roasting or stir-frying. It works well with spicier flavours, so try adding it to a spicy homemade curry. Cauliflower tastes delicious raw, so for a healthier snack break raw florets into salads or serve as crudités with salsa.
Good source of vitamin C
Although related to the onion, shallots have a milder sweeter flavour. Look for shallots that are firm 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 means they're great when caramelised and delicious scattered across puff pastry with goat's cheese and thyme.
High in fibre
Steamed, boiled, roasted, stir-fried, braised – versatile carrots have many different flavours depending on how they’re prepared. Used in both sweet and savoury dishes, carrots can be enjoyed raw in salads and can make a tasty addition to cakes and muffins. Try sweet and intensely flavoured Chantaney carrots, toss whole carrots in seasoned olive oil then roast, or add to a beef and red wine casserole. Serve raw with a minty yogurt and garlic dip or quickly steam then stir in harissa, olive oil, lemon juice and fresh coriander to serve with succulent grilled lamb.
High in Vitamin A
Parsnips are a member of the carrot family, which is not surprising as they look similar. With their soft flesh and sweet, mellow flavour, parsnips add a warming element to comforting winter dishes. Go for small to medium parsnips which are firm, larger ones tend to be more fibrous. Parsnips taste delicious roasted whole and spiced with cumin. Raw parsnip is also good grated in a salad, or into cake or muffin batter.
High in fibre