Just because it’s not tomato season doesn’t mean your seasonal table is doomed to be beige and blah. Winter produce means jewel colors and big, concentrated flavors: the velvety sweetness of winter squash, earthy root vegetables and sweet, tart citrus are in season. Pantry staples such as local flour, dried beans and storage crops such as carrots and onions can form a foundation for countless dishes. Pomegranates and cranberries lend rosy hues and bright acidity. Farmers using passively heated hoop houses and greenhouses are extending the growing season so that even in the coldest months we can enjoy robust winter greens.
Winter is also a great time of year to be inspired by locally produced animal products. These tender scones make use of Seven Stars Farm’s amazing heavy cream and sweet local butter from Trickling Springs. Clover Creek’s mature cheddar adds richness to kale salad, and this weeknight chili takes the bulk of its spice from Country Time Farm’s delicious, subtly spiced chorizo.
Pinto Bean & Chorizo Chili
- Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Add beans, boil for a minute and reduce heat. Simmer beans, covered, until quite tender, 20 to 40 minutes.
- While beans cook, remove chorizo from casing, and brown and crumble in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add dried oregano, paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, onion, green pepper, carrot and garlic, and sauté together until vegetables have softened. Reduce heat to lowest setting, stirring occasionally, until beans are ready.
- Once beans are soft and creamy, drain and add to the meat mixture. Add tomatoes. Increase heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Add vinegar, stir and taste. Salt and add more cayenne, as desired. Simmer mixture to combine flavors, 5-8 minutes. Serve.
- Preheat oven to 400° F. On a large baking sheet, toss squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and dried thyme.
- Arrange in a single layer and roast until tender and caramelized, 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse squash seeds, removing any stringy fibers, and drain. In a small baking dish (like a pie plate) toss seeds with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ancho chili powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
- Once squash has roasted 10-15 minutes, add the pan of seeds to the oven and bake 10-15 minutes until seeds are dry and fragrant. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake dressing ingredients to combine and pour over kale.
- Pinch and massage dressing into kale until leaves appear glossy and slightly wilted, 4-5 minutes. Arrange kale on a platter and top with roasted squash, cheese, pomegranate seeds and toasted squash seeds. Serve.
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Sift dry ingredients together into a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, beat one egg. Add cream and vanilla. Stir to combine. Slice by slice, toss cold butter into flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients just enough to break down the slices—you should still be able to see pea-sized chunks of butter. Add cream, egg and vanilla mixture to dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold mixture together, just enough to evenly distribute wet ingredients.
- Scrape mixture onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the surface of the mixture with flour and, with floured hands, gently pat to a thickness of one inch. Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut the mixture into three strips. Layer half of chopped cranberries on top of one strip, place second strip on top, layer remaining cranberries on that, and top with third strip. Once again, flatten the mixture to a thickness of one inch and form into a circle.
- Using a pastry cutter, cut the circle into 8 triangular scones and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake 15 to 20 minutes until edges begin to appear golden. Cool and serve.
An alumna of Fair Food, Philabundance and Greener Partners, Emily Teel is a food freelancer dedicated to sustainable, delicious food in Philadelphia. See more of her work at emilyteel.com.