Discover our comforting recipe ideas for January. We've partnered with Emma Crawforth at Gardeners' World to get the best from winter produce.
On the one hand, January is a time of resolutions. It’s a month of fresh starts, jumping out of bed early and campaigns such as Dry January and Veganuary. At the same time, however, it has the dregs of festive cheer, fridges are full of cheese and brandy butter and there are celebrations like Twelfth Night, Burns Night and Ginuary to look forward to.
Whether you’re keeping to resolutions or embracing the revelry, here are plenty of seasonal ideas to get the year off to a good start.
The hardiest kale varieties stand up to all weathers, producing attractive leaves in shades of blue, green or purple when much of the veg plot looks bare. Kale is probably the easiest brassica to grow.
Sow in spring and grow in free-draining, rich soil for the best results – prepare the bed in winter with a mulch of well-rotted organic matter. Harvest by peeling off the outermost, lowest leaves as you need them. Try using it in our kale & apple soup with walnuts.
To add more green to your plate, see our kale recipes.
Emma says: Frost makes parsnips taste sweeter, but if the ground freezes completely, you’ll have to wait for a thaw to harvest them! You can cover them in a straw mulch to make that less likely.
Not just for stews and roasts, this flavour-packed sesame parsnip & wild rice tabbouleh really shows off the sweet nutty flavour of the parsnips.
See our parsnip collection for more ideas.
Emma says: Generous watering over several months will give you the large ‘bulbs’ you need for easy preparation. Once you’ve trimmed off the knobbly mass of roots on the outside, you’ll be left with a much smaller, but delicious, ball ready for your recipe.
Celeriac is a satisfying root that tastes as good roasted or mashed as it does raw in this salad to go with sweet potato jackets with pomegranate & celeriac slaw.
Use this root veg in our celeriac recipes.
Emma says: Grow winter salad leaves – such as corn salad, land cress, mustards and mizuna – under a cold frame or pegged-down fleece. This protects against the worst weather, which may damage them, even though they can stand low temperatures. Pick leaves as needed.
Use whichever peppery or mustardy leaves you have for this winter leaf salad.
For more nutritious meals, see our winter salad collection.
Emma says: This vegetable has a curious and rather unhelpful name as it’s neither from Jerusalem nor, in fact, an artichoke – it’s actually a tuber of a variety of sunflower. Lumpy ones are fine, but avoid ones that are bruised or squishy.
Some recipes advise peeling the artichokes for a smooth texture and an appetising colour – as in the soup recipe below – but that’s not a requirement for all dishes. Many recipes will just suggest scrubbing them well and leaving the skin on. As with new potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes hold plenty of flavour just near the skin. Try them roasted or sliced in a gratin.
Use Jersualem artichokes in this smooth, comforting artichoke soup from contributing editor and BBC chef Tom Kerridge.
Tip: For a lighter option, switch out the double cream for semi-skimmed or dairy-free milk. For added indulgence, top with lightly fried leftover roast goose or turkey.
Find more recipe ideas in our Jerusalem artichoke collection.
Emma says: Look for Savoy cabbages with plenty of crisp, dimpled leaves. Try to choose ones that have lots of darker leaves on the outside rather than just the paler leaves around the core. If the outer leaves have been left on, it’s more likely the cabbage is fresher.
For a cosy meal for two, serve Savoy cabbage in this deliciously creamy lemon & cabbage pasta dish. Accompany with white wine and follow with a lemon tart. Alternatively, serve the pasta dish alongside a warm kale salad and the same quantities will easily stretch to a light but impressive lunch for four.
Browse more recipes in our savoy cabbage collection.
Cauliflower is a versatile veg. It can be eaten raw in salads, lightly cooked or roasted until sweet and charred. Try the latter in a delicious roasted spiced cauliflower recipe.
The best way to make cauliflower rice is to blitz the florets in a food processor until they resemble couscous grains, then evenly spread them out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 12-15 mins. We taste-tested various methods in the Good Food kitchen and this was the best – see more on the best way to cook cauliflower rice.
Tip: Don’t chuck out cauliflower leaves – they can be used similarly to cabbage. Remove the tough central stem and shred the leaves before cooking.
Find more ideas in our cauliflower recipe collection.
Usually just a supporting part in a recipe, shallots make a great side dish in their own right. They’re ideal for winter months when fresh produce is limited. Try roasting them with olives, bay & balsamic vinegar. Serve with a pea and pearl barley risotto for a lighter option or, for added indulgence, serve alongside sausages and mash
Tip: Covering shallots in boiling water before peeling them makes prepping a large amount a total cinch as the skins slide off easily.
Find more shallot recipe ideas.
Garden tasks for January
- Plant new fruit trees and bushes on warmer, drier days.
- Sprinkle lime on the bed where you’ll be growing brassicas (cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts etc). It protects from club root disease.
- Force rhubarb for succulent, early shoots, by covering with a tall, upturned bin, weighed down with a brick.
- Sow broad beans, lettuce and onions into small pots under cover.
- Prune apple and pear trees.
- Start ‘chitting’ early potatoes to give them a head start. Set them out in the light on a cool windowsill indoors where they will start to produce tiny shoots.
Check out more seasonal recipes and information...
Emma Crawforth is a qualified horticulturist who trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is the gardening editor for BBC Gardeners’ World. Miriam Nice is a published author and illustrator. She has written over 350 recipes for BBC Good Food.
The January issue of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine is on sale now.