Winter fruits and vegetables to savour, from starters to desserts

Winter fruits & vegetables

Do you think that winter offers little in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables? Let us put you straight!

We usually associate light, refreshing salads and sun-ripened vegetables with summer, whereas winter brings to mind hearty foods that help us ward off the cold and boost our spirits when the days grow short. This is the time for après-ski raclette and bountiful holiday meals. But at this time of the year when our immune system is put to the test, the nutritional richness of seasonal fruit and vegetables also does your body good.

Root vegetables, the mainstay of winter dishes

As in autumn, winter is the season for root vegetables, which are as nutritious as they are tasty. For example, the humble potato contains a wealth of fibre, vitamin C and magnesium. Carrots owe their colour to a high beta-carotene content and are rich in vitamin A – important for healthy skin and eyes. Parsnips, swedes and Jerusalem artichokes, with their distinctive flavours, also serve as a basis for hearty soups and gratins. Another advantage of root vegetables: they're very affordable.

Cabbages and winter salads

Do you miss summer salads? Far from being exclusive to warm sunny days, a wealth of greens – iceberg, mâche, endive, oak lettuce and all sorts of cabbage – allows you to prepare delicious winter salads. Take the vegetable of your choice, add chunks of apple and Grenoble walnuts, a few cubes of Comté cheese and a house vinaigrette, and you have a classic starter or a light lunch that couldn’t be simpler or faster to prepare.

The members of the enormous Brassica family offer countless options for raw and cooked specialities. Originally from China but now also grown in Europe, bok choy is perfect for soups and stir-fries that can be varied from day to day. European cabbage varieties – green, red, white – are a staple in northern and eastern France, but also part of gastronomic traditions throughout central and eastern Europe. There are so many choices for expanding your culinary horizons! Oh, and let’s not forget that cabbage is also high in fibre and vitamins C and A.

Vitamin-packed recipes with winter fruits

Though apples can be found year-round thanks to imports, different varieties and preservation techniques, they're best when eaten in autumn and winter. For a gourmet dessert, the combination of apples and cinnamon is a sure winner, as in this updated flognarde recipe by Willy Camboulin, chef of Barricot restaurant in Toulouse.

But it's citrus fruits that are the true stars of winter. Lemons, oranges, clementines, mandarins... One thing they all have in common is a wealth of vitamin C – their thick peel allows them to preserve this easily destroyed nutrient. Another one of our wintertime allies, the kiwi is a fruit rich in the enzyme actinidain, which helps our body to better digest proteins.

If you still need inspiration for what to do with fresh local produce during the winter months, look to the examples of Blossom, a gastronomic restaurant near Les Tuileries in Paris, Les Bon Sens in the Parisian suburb of Guyancourt, or Le Hangar in Lyon’s 3rd arrondissement. Each in its own way, these restaurants share the same local commitment by renewing their menu season after season.

(*) Average meal price calculated on the basis of starter and main course or main course and dessert, excluding drinks, menu and promotional offers. The average price is an estimate only, calculated according to the prices provided by the restaurant. Depending on the country, the average price may or may not include all taxes.