Tip of the day: Buy local and buy seasonal!
If you're like me and you don't live in the great state of California where everything is ripe all of the time, then you should be thinking about seasonal ingredients. Why you ask? Well first of all, they taste better. Think of the ubiquitous tomato. When you see tomatoes at your local PriceChopper (or Wegmans if you're lucky) in the winter, they look much like the ones you find in summer. But, they may have been shipped thousands of miles to get there. That means that in order for that tomato to arrive plump and red, it had to have been picked when it was green, thrown in a dark truck, treated with gas to induce ripening, and then, only then, it can be stocked in grocery bins around the world. Compared to a summer, farm-stand tomato...I know which one I would rather have. (Tip of the day: you can still eat tomatoes in winter! Don't forget to utilize canned and sun-dried tomatoes which are picked at the top of their games).
Second of all, the less time a veggie spends from farm to table, the more nutrients it holds on to. Therefore, the healthier it is for you. You're getting more bang for your buck! And plus, what heartless person does not want to support a local farmer?!? To see what's in season in winter, check out this site from NY farmers: http://www.nyfarms.info/whybuylocal.html
One winter vegetable you will find on this list is the extremely versatile butternut squash. Although I use them often, my all-time favorite recipe for it is:
Roasted Butternut Squash with Gorgonzola and Baby Spinach:
1 whole butternut squash, peeled and diced (if you can find it pre-cut, go for it. They are a pain to peel)
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin, always)
A generous amount (like my measurements?) of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper (you should be able to see it)
1 red onion, peeled, cut in half, and cut into thin wedges
1 oz. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (a blue-veined cheese from Italy. You can substitute any blue cheese)
1/2 bag fresh baby spinach
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep butternut squash by peeling, gutting, and cutting into 1 in. chunks. Combine squash chunks, cut onion, olive oil, salt and pepper in large baking dish (I like the Pyrex 9x13). Toss together with hands until oil is covering veggies and spices are distributed evenly. Roast for at least 40 minutes, but check it and stir it often. When finished squash should be a bit browned in spots and be fork-tender. Pull squash out of oven and toss in baby spinach. Stir until spinach is wilted. Just before you are ready to serve, top with gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Serve warm.