Traditional harvest festival time in the UK is in late September, and celebrates completing the gathering in of all the vegetable and grain bounty from the fields. If you enjoy your seasonal eating, you’ll know that there are many other delights that are harvested much earlier.
September is a great time for the root crops, including main-crop potatoes, onions, beetroot, radishes and many others. What’s so good about these roots and how can you use them?
Flavoursome seasonal spuds knock spots off those kept in store, even though potatoes keep well. Eat the skins for extra dietary fibre, and enjoy a good hit of vitamins and complex carbs with almost no fat.
Potato salad is a great summer dish whatever the weather – try this variant for a change from the usual mayonnaise. A jacket potato and a microwave provide a hot lunch in ten minutes for a change from cold office food.
Another root that stores well into winter is the onion, a core ingredient for a huge number of recipes. The health benefits of onions are as layered as the vegetable itself, with an alphabet of vitamins. Onions also contain minerals and folic acid.
There’s even an idea that onions can help to shorten winter colds, although this treatment may work mostly by keeping other people away!
Whether fresh or pickled, the colourful beetroot is low in fat and carbs but high in essential nutrients. It works as a side-dish, part of a salad or even in a beetroot and chocolate cake! If you grow your own or buy it with the leaves, don’t discard them - they make an excellent ingredient for a vegetable stir-fry.
Crunchy round radishes are a perfect addition to a salad. Like beetroot, there is evidence that they may have antioxidant properties and could even reduce cancer risk. Eating them raw increases these benefits and also preserves the vitamin C content. The daikon or ‘winter radish’ is an essential for kimchi, the Korean version of sauerkraut.
So make the most of our ‘buried treasure’ and enjoy the root crops!
I didn't know about beetroot leaves either, until I spent a weekend with friends with a large garden and a veg plot. I ate the stuff until I was almost purple! It's very good for you too.
I do love fresh beetroot - so much better than the bought stuff in vacuum packed plastic. But I have never used the leaves. What a great idea. I now regret throwing away masses of leaves earlier in the year.
I am refusing to accept that summer is over, but there's no doubt that some days comfort food is now needed. Spuds and roasted veg - works for me!
This sort of thing makes me look forward to autumn. I love root veg - and can also recommend roasted butternut squash.