December Produce Guide
We are finishing up the year with an explosion of color, from garnet beets to saffron orange clementines, and purple cauliflower (what will they think of next?) to emerald kiwifruit. Remember to "eat the rainbow" when it comes to produce; the more variety of color, the better for you.
While we can still find pomegranates, apples, and pears in the market, it's because they store well chilled. Those harvests are mostly over and what are coming in now are the first of the citrus — Mandarin oranges. Buy them by the boxful!
This is a great time for brassicas — cauliflower, romanesco broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards and kale. And of course we couldn't start winter without root vegetables like turnips and beets, or winter squashes like butternut and kabocha.
Scroll down for recipe ideas of what to make with December produce.
What's in Season in December?
December is the month for mandarin oranges — satsumas, clementines, and tangerines. Halos and Cuties brands are super sweet seedless clementines. Great for a Vitamin-C packed snack!
Meyer Lemons and Buddha's Hands
Meyer Lemons are more thinly skinned and less tart than regular lemons. Buddha's Hands look like fingers of lemon peel, use them for zest. You can find both Meyer lemons and Buddha's hands at farmers markets.
Make sure a kiwifruit gives a little to the touch before cutting it open. Scoop out the fruit with a spoon. Chop and add to salads or make kiwi salsa!
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find fresh porcini, chanterelles, and other wild mushrooms. (They like rain.) Sauté them with a little butter and tarragon or herbes de Provence.
Roast them, pickle them, cook beets into a soup or serve them with salads. Choose golden beets if mixing with other foods so you don't have to worry about beets staining everything red.
Turnips and Rutabagas
By the time December comes around, the baby turnips have grown up. Mature turnips and rutabagas can be on the bitter side, but are great mashed with cream or butter, or cooked into patties. Blanch turnip greens and toss them with pasta, white beans, lemon, and Parmesan.
Spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, and kabocha, these winter squash will last months stored in a cool spot.
The sturdiest of leafy greens, collard greens are considered good luck for the new year. They love being cooked with bacon or ham.
If you're craving pesto in the winter and there's no basil to be found, kale pesto is the next best thing.
Sputnik-shaped kohlrabi come in purple and light green and tastes similar to broccoli stems. You can eat it raw in salads, or steamed, boiled, baked, grilled, or roasted.
Roast cauliflower florets or grate and steam cauliflower to make cauliflower rice.
A brassica like cauliflower and broccoli, romanesco look like a 3D math project with fractals. They taste closer to broccoli than cauliflower, cook them the same way or use them in a salad.
To get the freshest Brussels sprouts, buy them on their stalk. Sauté or roast them whole or halved, sprinkle with lemon juice and Parmesan.
Nothing better to remind you of the holiday season than freshly roasted chestnuts . Just make sure you score them first before roasting them, or they'll explode (this I say from experience). If using in recipes, jarred chestnuts work better than fresh. Look for both fresh and jarred chestnuts in December.
Keep scrolling down for more recipe ideas!
Citrus: Lemon Chicken Chickpea Soup
Moroccan inspired lemon chicken soup with chickpeas, rice, turmeric, and cumin. Delicious!
Citrus: Tangerine Sorbet
So easy! Tangerine sorbet made from fresh tangerine juice, lemon juice, and sugar.
Mushrooms: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Creamy wild mushroom soup made with dried wild mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, shallots, garlic, stock, cream, sherry, and herbs.
Mushrooms: Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
Vegetarian Lasagna to feed a crowd! This one is filled with meaty shiitake and cremini mushrooms, spinach, and ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses. Your vegetarian and meat-eating guests will fight for seconds.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
Mushrooms: Classic Stuffed Mushrooms
These classic stuffed mushrooms are loaded with shallots, garlic, walnuts, breadcrumbs, and chopped mushroom stems. Sprinkle with Parmesan, pop them in the oven, and you've got a great appetizer for the holidays.
Beets: Pickled Beets
A midwestern classic—pickled beets! Our favorite refrigerator pickled beets, roasted or boiled beets, marinated in a cider vinegar vinaigrette.
Delicious borscht soup made with fresh red beets, beef shank, onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, dill, and sour cream.
Beets: Beet Hummus
Colorful beet hummus made with red beets, tahini, lemon, and garlic. Great with pita chips or veggies!Continue to 9 of 18 below.
Winter Squash: Butternut Squash with Brown Butter and Thyme
Butternut squash cubes, seared in brown butter, tossed with thyme. Easy Thanksgiving stovetop side! The browned butter brings out the most amazing flavor in the butternut squash.
Winter Squash: Pasta with Butternut Squash Parmesan Sauce
Butternut Squash Pasta with Parmesan! Pasta served with a homemade butternut squash pasta sauce of roasted butternut squash, shallots, cream, and Parmesan cheese.
Collards: Collard Greens
Wondering what to do with collard greens? Here's an easy recipe for a simple side dish! Cook collards on the stovetop with onions and garlic — it's an easy, flavorful way to eat your greens.
Kale: Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup
A hearty winter soup recipe with kale, white beans, and roasted carrots, butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, and garlic.Continue to 13 of 18 below.
Kale: Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto
This Whole Wheat Pasta with Kale Pesto is a quick and easy meatless dinner! Make your pesto with cashews for extra creaminess. Blanching the kale also helps keep the pesto green.
Cauliflower: Roasted Curried Cauliflower
BEST roasted cauliflower is Roasted Curried Cauliflower! With onions, garlic, curry spices. Quick, EASY, healthy!
Cauliflower: Cauliflower Cheddar Soup
This smooth, creamy cauliflower soup with sharp cheddar cheese is absolutely what you want on a chilly day. It's ready in under an hour. Serve with some crusty bread and a side salad!
Cauliflower: Cauliflower Chickpea Curry
Delicious vegan curry with cauliflower, chickpeas, onion, tomato, and cilantro.Continue to 17 of 18 below.
Chestnuts: Braised Red Cabbage with Chestnuts
Sweet and sour red cabbage, cooked with bacon, apples, onions, and roasted chestnuts. Great holiday side!
Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts
Thinly sliced brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon and onions, then tossed with roasted chestnuts, thyme and a little lemon juice.