Since this winter hasn't been all that harsh in most parts of the US, we can't resort to our usual heavy winter classics. But that doesn't mean we should neglect our favorite winter ingredients. Cooking seasonally is not only great for the environment (since it requires less travel and chemical additives for your produce) but also great for your budget. But just because you can find inexpensive ingredients in each season doesn't mean you have to maintain that frugal attitude when cooking.
Simple ingredients can be used to make elegant dishes with just a little extra attention to detail. Since truffle oil and caviar aren't always in the budget, learning to tweak and enhance just a few ingredients and flavor combinations can help you transform those ordinary ingredients into the extraordinary!
With the help of Food Republic, we've picked five great winter ingredients -- Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, grapefruit, pears, and sweet potatoes -- and rounded up five amazing recipes guaranteed to knock your socks off! These recipes are all fairly upscale and will have your dinner guests fooled into thinking you either ordered straight from a restaurant or had a world-class chef help you in the kitchen.
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For some, Brussels sprouts can bring back some cruel childhood memories. But if done just right, Brussels sprouts just may turn into one of your favorite vegetables. Renowned Chef Michael Schwartz has turned Brussels sprouts into a reliable culinary work of art with this recipe. If you follow these steps (especially with the lemon aïoli), you will never think of Brussels sprouts again as anything but amazing. Recipe: Pancetta Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Known as the milder cousin of broccoli, cauliflower is definitely a simple ingredient that can transform any dish into the exceptional. Cauliflower makes for a delicious soup, and with the addition of arugula in this recipe, you get a lovely peppery aftertaste. For added crunch, include some fast-roasted cauliflower florets as a garnish. Bonus cauliflower recipe: Whole Head Roasted Cauliflower Recipe: Cauliflower and Arugula Soup
It’s about time we stop thinking of the grapefruit as a breakfast-only ingredient. While it may be hard to incorporate this bitter fruit into a main dish, it takes a genius like Chef Michael Voltaggio to make it look effortless. In this veal with fava beans recipe, grapefruit accents veal. With the added fava bean butter, this dish will definitely wow your guests! Recipe: Veal with Fava Bean Butter
Pears make for a lovely dessert. Rather than poaching, however, why not try wrapping them in puff pastry for an extra surprise. Crisp on the outside, meltingly soft within, these hot little packages are delectable. They can be prepared several hours in advance, up to the stage where you cook them, and the pears can be poached a day ahead. Recipe: Poached Pear Packages
While gnocchi is becoming more and more popular in restaurants, eating potato pasta may not always be waistline-friendly. But sweet potatoes have twice as many nutrients than regular potatoes and can make for a great substitute for any potato dish, including gnocchi. These deep orange sweet potato gnocchi are like little pillows from heaven. Tender and comforting, the gnocchi are swimming in a creamy almond-sage sauce, sending the classic sweet potato–sage combo into a whole new dimension. Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi
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