November is all about keeping warm and enjoying the glut of comforting dishes that traditionally take the chill from this most miserable of winter months. With the autumn and summer gluts long over, it can be tempting to turn to the southern hemisphere summer for your fresh fruit and veg fix but that would be to miss out on some real treats. Relying on heavy-duty, carbon-munching freight planes and shipping to supply your table means missing out on hearty root vegetables such as parsnip, turnip and swede, along with the fleshy delights of the squash family. Now is also the time to get stuck into the apple and pear crop stored during September and October while out in the hedgerows, medlars, quinces and cob nuts are all easily had for nothing. Better still, chestnuts are coming into season, which opens up a world of wonderful nutty flavours, including cakes made using chestnut rather than commercially grown wheat flour. Meat eaters needn’t feel left out either, with November heralding the start of the game glut, with venison, rabbit, wood pigeon, grouse and pheasant all on the table this month. What’s more, some of Britain’s best – and most under appreciated – fish are around this month with herring, dab, Dover sole and cockles all coming to a fishmonger near you. With so much choice around, picking the best bits proved particularly tough this month, but for health and well-being advisor, Maureen York, it’s all about the vegetables.
‘It’s another one of those powerhouses as far as vitamins and minerals are concerned,’ says York. Packed with protein and an alphabet soup of vitamins, Swiss chard is another excellent food to eat raw. Along with salads and smoothies, York recommends using Swiss chard leaves as a healthy substitute for bread in a vegetable wrap.
With high levels of vitamin C, calcium and sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties, ‘kale is what you would call a super food’ according to York. Eating it raw ensures you consume as many of these nutrients as possible but she also recommends breaking down the fibres by massaging the leaves with olive oil and salt to make it more digestible.
Along with the masses of vitamin C, potassium and calcium that pears contain, the UK’s most underrated fruit is also low glycaemic, which means that it's a good source of energy minus the intense sugary rush or a debilitating sugar crash later. ‘[They are] really helpful for those suffering from diabetes,’ says York.
York describes Savoy cabbage as ‘another pretty powerful vegetable.’ Rich in vitamin C, Savoy cabbage also comes with glutamine - an amino acid with anti-inflammatory properties. What’s more, Savoy cabbage works well with almost anything. ‘Leaves can be used for a wrap, and in small amounts it complements a vegetable juice, although I wouldn’t advise it green smoothies,’ says York.
Rich in vitamin C, calcium and iron, watercress is another super-food and contains natural chemicals that can help keep cancer at bay and improve liver and kidney function. The last gasp of the watercress season; now is the time to make the most of it while you still can. It’s a classic soup ingredient but also works well as an ingredient in juices.
Baked Pears in White Wine
A gorgeous way to make the most of November’s pear fest and perfect for rounding off a winter supper.
4 pears, peeled
1 vanilla pod
2 large wine glasses of white wine
200g peeled walnuts
125g dark muscovado sugar, plus a little extra
• Preheat the oven to 220C.
• Start by removing the seeds from the vanilla pod. Put the pears into an ovenproof pan and add the sugar, wine, vanilla pods and seeds plus the juice and peel of one orange.
• Place on the stove and bring this to the boil. Once boiled, remove from the heat and sprinkle in half the walnuts.
• Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes basting the pears with the syrup occasionally. Remove the pears from the oven and let them cool. Remove the vanilla pods from the syrup.
• Bake the remaining walnuts in the oven on a baking sheet for five minutes until golden. Once the walnuts are baked put them in a food processor and process them into a paste.
• Whip together the walnut paste with the mascarpone and add the zest and juice of the other orange with sugar to sweeten.
Recipe courtesy of www.pearrecipes.co.uk
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