1. Fresh Cranberries
If you only pick up a bag of fresh cranberries once a year to make sauce at Thanksgiving, you’re missing out! The tart, tangy little fruits can do so much more. Put them to work in salads, cocktails (like a margarita or Moscow mule), desserts (try this pie, tart, or tea cake), or even this phenomenal braised brisket. Cranberries are grown in sandy bogs in the northern United States -- we actually sent one of our editors to investigate! -- and are available through December. They’re also chock-full of antioxidants and vitamin C, and unlike other berries, they keep well -- you can refrigerate cranberries for up to two weeks or freeze them for up to a year.
2. Sweet Potatoes
With their orange flesh and dark-amber skin, sweet potatoes are easy to spot. They can be long and tapered or squat with rounded ends. Filled with vitamins B6 and C, as well as dietary fiber and beta-carotene, they're a delectable alternative to white potatoes. And you don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy sweet potatoes. Their buttery flesh and sugary taste make them enjoyable anytime -- simply mashed or baked of course, but sweet potatoes are also great turned into chips or fries, roasted for a salad or grain bowl, simmered in an aromatic soup or stew, or starring in a pie or batch of muffins. Pro tip: never store sweet potatoes in the fridge; their natural sugars will convert to starch, and they’ll become less sweet.
3. Brussels Sprouts
Gone are the days when brussels sprouts were the dreaded green vegetable on the table -- they're finally having their moment in the sun. They're almost more ubiquitous than kale lately and might be even more versatile. The little cabbage cousins are delicious roasted, sauteed, fried, shaved, you name it. We also love tossing them with pasta, strewing them atop pizza, or layering them in a breakfast sandwich. And our latest, greatest way to prepare brussels? Wrapped in bacon! Brussels sprouts are at their peak until February but of course especially plentiful now with Thanksgiving right around the corner. They're sold on their stalks or in bags; look for sprouts with heads that are roughly the same size so that they'll cook evenly.
We don’t know why this fall fruit doesn’t get more hype. Both the fuyu and hachiya varieties are delicious eaten out of hand and lend themselves well to all kinds of sweet and savory dishes. Fuyus are squat, round, and mildly sweet, with a firm, crisp texture. They make excellent additions to salads and fabulous foils for anything salty, such as cheese or cured meats. Acorn-shaped hachiyas are sweeter and have a super-soft texture but only when completely ripe, so don’t try eating them early. They'll be unpleasantly tart and chalky because of the tannins. Once do they hit their sweet spot, hachiyas are wonderful in desserts, like this steamed pudding!
Feeling adventurous? Pick up this mysterious-looking cruciferous vegetable at the farmers’ market. Part bulb, part bundle of greens, kohlrabi may seem intimidating, but it offers a delightful combination of familiar tastes. Kohlrabi has the texture of a radish and the sweetness of jicama, with a slight hint of broccoli, and the edible leaves are like a milder version of collards. The whole thing is also packed with vitamin C and potassium. Try the nutritional powerhouse raw in a slaw or salad, simmered in soup, baked into chips, or simply sauteed. Whichever preparation you choose, we think you'll be a convert.
Yes, this cruciferous vegetable is technically available year-round, but it’s at its best in cool temperatures. Another reason to snap up cauliflower when it's in season: you can get heads with those beautiful bright orange or purple florets. Whichever hue you choose, make the most of cauliflower’s slightly sweet, mildy nutty flavor by cooking it every which way: steamed, roasted, pickled, pureed into soups, or tucked into pasta or casseroles. If you’re trying to cut down on starches, cauliflower also makes a great healthy swap that’s delicious in its own right. Take our Cauliflower Fried Rice or Cauliflower-Crust Pizza Margherita for a spin -- you won’t be sorry.
Learn the easiest way to cut up a head of cauliflower: