Beetroot

Nicky Riemer
Executive Chef and Co-Owner Union Dining, Richmond

The humble beetroot is my favourite winter vegetable, although there is nothing humble about it. Roasted with garlic in paper, or grated into a salad with green beans, or pickled; they are so versatile during the colder months. There is always a jar of my pickled baby beetroots in the fridge at home, which often doesn’t last long. Pickled beetroots are simply done; just bring the beetroots to the boil in cold water, drain and rub the skin off, then pour over a hot mix of equal quantities red wine vinegar and sugar with a sprig of thyme and some bay leaves. I love pickled beetroots with paper-thin slices of raw fish and sour cream, or with bresaola and shaved parmesan, or on their own with Yarra Valley Persian-style feta and crusty bread.


Garland chrysanthemum

Tony Tan Chef
Food Writer, Creative Director (Cultural) Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

When cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cavalo nero start making an appearance at farmers markets, we know for sure that winter is fast approaching. However, apart from the ubiquitous bok choy, many of us know little of what Asian winter greens are. In north Asia, winter melon, wong bok (also know as Chinese cabbage) and garland chrysanthemum star throughout winter. Garland chrysanthemum is the edible member of the chrysanthemum family and is popular in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cooking. Called tong ho in Cantonese and shingiku in Japanese, it originated in the Mediterranean. Grown mainly for its leaves and young stems, this annual imparts a distinct floral note to soups and hot pots. It can also be stir-fried, though it turns slightly bitter if it is cooked for too long. It is excellent as a salad green with roasted pine nuts or hazelnuts and dressed with a splash of olive oil and vinegar. My favourite method of cooking this vegetable is to blanch it quickly, refresh in cold water and toss with silken bean and sesame oil. When next in your local Asian greengrocer, pick up a bunch of this leafy green and give it a go.


Brussels Sprouts

Michael Harden
Melbourne Editor, Gourmet Traveller, Freelance Food Writer and Author

The heinous overcooking crimes committed against Brussels sprouts by past generations have left them with a somewhat stinky reputation. But treated with the love and affection they deserve, these little anti-oxidant and potassium-rich members of the Brassica family (also responsible for cabbage and broccoli) can become one of your main reasons to celebrate the chilly onset of winter. First rule is to get ‘em while they’re young. The small, tightly curled, bright green ones are the best (avoid the larger flabby ones and their unsightly yellow leaves) because they are sweet and crunchy and make you feel like a better person for having consumed them. You can simply steam them (but not for too long) and then toss them with some butter, but my favourite thing is to steam them part of the way, chop them in half and then pan fry them in a little butter with some good quality bacon. If you slightly brown the leaves and the edges of the sprouts so you get some sugary caramelising happening, you’ll be even happier.

Necia Wilden
Co-Editor, Food + Wine, The Weekend Australian Magazine

My favourite winter vegetable is Brussels sprouts, for which I offer no excuse or apology. My theory on sprouts is that if they were rare or expensive they would be revered, but because they're cheap... people love to sneer at them. The best way to cook them is any way that gives them a slightly burnt, charry edge. I usually par-boil them, then fry them in unsalted butter until they start to blacken around the edges. This is hell on the saucepan but great for the sprouts. And it gets rid of that slightly sulphurous whiff that can be off-putting to some people. You can add a pinch of nutmeg, or curry powder if you like, and plenty of salt. Recently I read that Porteno restaurant in Sydney serves them deep-fried with mint. Now that I'd love to try.


Red Cabbage

Sacha Meier
Owner and Chef Ba Ba Lu, Lorne

I love to use red cabbage in winter. After spending many years as a chef in Europe, I really appreciate red cabbage and how delicious it can be. I like to sauté it in olive oil, deglaze the pan with cabernet vinegar and add toasted pine nuts and sultanas. Yum!


Cabbage

Andrew Gimber
Chef, Chin Chin, Melbourne

My favourite winter vegetable is the underrated cabbage. I use it in lots of salads, curries and stir fries - it is one of the most versatile and vegetables for its structure and crispness. Cabbage is great is dishes like dry curry 'Pad Ped' with stir fried winter vegetables and spice crusted organic tofu kaffir lime leaf and Thai basil.