There's the paradox of January. How we crave a break from rich celebrations, but in this month of dark and cold, we want to feel warm and full. If, as Camus said, "Contradiction is perhaps the subtlest of all spiritual forces," then in January we should eat lots to feel light. But how to find seasonal vegetables is the Northern Heartland kitchen's conundrum; nothing is coming from this frozen ground So, to get to the root of good eating, eat roots. Local radishes, carrots, turnips, rutabagas and parsnips abound.
Shown above is a simple slaw of beauty heart radish (often called watermelon radish), carrots, cabbage and pea sprouts, all grown from within 100 miles of my Minneapolis home. The radishes were harvested a while back but they store nicely and are available in co-ops. Pale green outside, they are shockingly pink within, their flavor is mild, the texture is crunchy, and they're delicious for snacks or tossed into a stir fry. The carrots, also harvested late October, have converted their carbohydrates into sugars and thus sweetened over time, as have the turnips, which are now mild enough to shave and serve raw. Rutabagas are more astringent, but a little bit, shredded adds a nice, cleansing bite.
This plateful is dressed with a fresh ginger-orange vinaigrette made with local sunflower oil and a little pumpkin seed oil. OK, so the ginger is from Hawaii (and so fresh it doesn't need to be peeled) ; the oranges from Florida are tangy and sweet. This easy toss up makes a nice side or light meal topped with a little sliced chicken. Be sure to finish it off with a few squares of good dark chocolate and January, a fine, satisfying meal, filling, bright and enlightening.
Ginger Orange Vinaigrette
Makes 1/2 cup
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons honey, or more to taste
1 tablespoon pumpkin seed oil (optional)
1/4 cup sunflower oil
In a small dish, whisk together the orange juice, ginger, and honey then whisk in the pumpkin seed oil and sunflower oil.