When I first started cooking I didn't understand what was even meant by "seasonal" when it came to food. It wasn't until I started gardening and shopping at our local farmers markets that it hit home.
Every vegetable and fruit has its season—a season when it is ripe and plentiful, when it tastes the best, and costs the least.
Some say our bodies are designed to eat the foods that are in season around us. I don't know if that's true or not, but I do know that in middle of winter I crave a big pot of stew with plenty of root vegetables. And in the middle of summer, I rejoice in eating juicy berries and fresh ripe tomatoes.
We in Northern California are blessed to be surrounded by some of the best weather and soil for growing fruits and vegetables. In fact, we grow much of the nation's produce. So, if it's in season here, it is likely available at markets across the country.
What's in season in January?
Lemons, oranges, grapefruit
When it comes to fruit, January is the season for citrus! Meyer lemons, regular lemons, limes, mandarin oranges, navel oranges, and Texas ruby red grapefruit are all abundant. Also look for blood oranges with their deep red interiors (their taste has hints of raspberry), cara cara navel oranges (pink inside), and super-sized pomelos (pre-cursor of grapefruit, sweeter with thicker peels).
Beets, turnips, celery root
You can find root vegetables like beets, turnips, and celery root still in season in January. Younger, smaller turnips will be sweeter and less bitter than more mature turnips. This is also a good time for digging up horseradish roots.
Cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower
Look to the brassicas for your winter green veggies–cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli and cauliflower. Collards are especially sturdy and are good luck for the new year! Cauliflower comes in all sorts of festive colors now — purple, orange, light green. The color is all natural; the purple comes from the antioxidant anthocyanin and the orange from extra beta-carotene. The taste is the same as white cauliflower, but with more nutritional benefits.
Butternut squash, acorn squash
Finally, there's sturdy winter squash! You can still find plenty of butternut squash and acorn squash. While harvested in the fall these squash can keep for months.
Keep scrolling for some terrific recipes for using the best of January produce. Enjoy!
Citrus: Grapefruit Avocado Salad
Grapefruit and avocado make the perfect pair in this cheerful, healthy salad! Dressed with a light citrus vinaigrette.
Citrus: Avgolemono Soup
An easy version of the classic Greek avgolemono soup of chicken with rice or orzo pasta finished with egg and lemon.
Citrus: Lemon Chicken Chickpea Soup
Moroccan inspired lemon chicken soup with chickpeas, rice, turmeric, and cumin. Delicious!
Citrus: Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
Three layers of lemon—in the cake, the syrup and the glaze—make this Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake extra lemony! This is easy cake is so dramatic and beautiful on a brunch table.Continue to 5 of 18 below.
Root vegetables: Roasted Root Vegetables with Tomatoes and Kale
Warm up your winter with this cheerful ragout of roasted root vegetables with tomato and kale! It takes about as long to make as it does to roast the root vegetables. Hearty and nourishing.
Root vegetables: Turkey Stew with Root Vegetables
Filling, delicious, and affordable, this turkey stew is made with turkey thighs or legs, slow cooked with onion, celery, carrots and other root vegetables.
Root vegetables: Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze
The BEST way to cook beets? Roasted! These ruby red beets are roasted in the oven until sweet and caramelized, then tossed with orange zest and a balsamic glaze. So good!
Root vegetables: Mashed Rutabaga with Sour Cream and Dill
Mashed rutabaga with sour cream, dill, salt and pepper.Continue to 9 of 18 below.
Root vegetables: Cider Vinaigrette Roasted Root Vegetables
Beautiful roasted root vegetables—garnet yams, parsnips, carrots, beets—tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette and roasted until tender and caramelized.
Brassicas: Sweet and Sour German Red Cabbage
This sweet-and-sour red cabbage makes an easy side dish for any German meal. Just four ingredients and ready 30 minutes! Great with sausages or pork chops.
Brassicas: Green Gumbo
A traditional Louisiana gumbo served during Lent that is based on loads of greens such as collards, kale, turnip greens and spinach.
Brassicas: Kale Sausage Soup with Tomatoes and Chickpeas
Hearty kale sausage soup! With Italian sausage, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, and kale.Continue to 13 of 18 below.
Brassicas: Kale Pesto
Missing summer pesto? Make this Kale Pesto with lemon, almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and fresh leafy kale. Perfect winter pesto and great with pasta!
Brassicas: 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!
Winter Squash: Roasted Butternut Squash Kale Sauté
Great side dish for the holidays! Roasted cubes of butternut squashed tossed with balsamic sautéed onions, kale, pecans, dried cranberries.
Winter Squash: Roasted Winter Squash with Cilantro Chimichurri
Roasted Winter Squash with Cilantro Chimichurri! Use a mix of squashes, like acorn squash and delicata squash. The cilantro chimichurri makes this simple dish into a showstopper.Continue to 17 of 18 below.
Winter Squash: Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Soup! Steam the whole squash in a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot, then puree it with onion, celery, carrot, apples, and broth. Quick and easy.
Winter Squash: Stuffed Squash with Brown Rice and Mushrooms
Vegan stuffed squash with brown rice and mushrooms! Use acorn squash or other winter squash. Vegan or vegetarian main course.