Citrus, kiwi, and hardy vegetables like broccoli, collards, mustard greens, and radicchio are all bright spots in the middle of winter.
Credit: Janelle Jones

1. Citrus

Citrus is our saving grace at the grocery store come wintertime. There are so many succulent varieties to explore-of course the usual suspects that can be found year-round, but also pomelos, blood oranges, Meyer lemons, and Key limes. Keep an eye out for the curious-looking specimen that is Buddha's Hand-it's not just a fruit, it's a conversation piece! Once you've had your fill of citrus on its own, be sure to experiment with the vitamin C-packed fruits every which way in the kitchen. Whether they're playing a starring or supporting role, the juice, zest, and fruit itself lend themselves well to all kinds of sweet and savory dishes.

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Credit: David Malosh

2. Collard Greens

Collard greens aren't exactly attention-grabbing media darlings, but they nonetheless deserve the spotlight. Think of collards as the ultimate dark leafy greens: they have the mild flavor of spinach and the robust texture of kale. They're versatile, easy to prepare, and work just as hard for your health. In addition to the antioxidants and vitamins they share with fellow cruciferous vegetables, collards may help lower cholesterol. And contrary to conventional wisdom, the greens don't need to be cooked for hours on end to be delicious-try them blanched, stuffed, sauteed, creamed, baked into chips, or tossed with pasta. In fact, to fully enjoy their nutritional benefits, eat collards raw: thinly slice the leaves and use them in salads and slaws.

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Credit: Marcus Nilsson

3. Radicchio

At its peak from now until April, this member of the chicory family generally comes in two varieties in the U.S.: Treviso and the more popular Verona. Treviso leaves are elongated and grow in small, compact bunches similar to endive. Verona radicchio grows in tightly packed round heads that resemble cabbage. Both varieties have vivid burgundy leaves and white ribs and boast a refreshingly bitter, almost spicy flavor that's just the thing for waking up a tired winter palate. Radicchio is also rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and E. The firm, crunchy leaves are fabulous raw as crudités or tossed in a green salad or grain bowl but also stand up well to roasting, sauteing, and grilling. They even make a delectable and unexpected pizza topping.

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Credit: Romulo Yanes

4. Broccoli

Maybe your kids would rather make their beds than eat broccoli. But this bright bunch deserves a reputation reboot. A cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber, and one cup of florets has all the calcium you need in a day. The best part? It doesn't take much effort to turn this versatile vegetable into something truly scrumptious. It can be blanched, steamed, stir-fried, boiled, roasted, or pureed into soup. The flavor marries well with a wide variety of seasonings and ingredients, so it can accompany nearly any main dish. Although broccoli is available all year, it's at its prime through early spring. And don't forget about the stalks-they're just as tasty as the florets, especially in this simple yet sensational salad.

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Credit: Marcus Nilsson

5. Mustard Greens

Don't be intimidated by these greens-they're just as easy to cook as kale, with similarly curly leaves, but we daresay, have a more interesting flavor. They're pleasantly pungent, with a sharp, almost radish-like bite that cuts through the richness of any dish. Mustard greens pair nicely with pork or chicken and are wonderful sauteed, transformed into pesto, simmered as a side or in a soup, or blanched and tucked into a pasta. If using raw in a salad, consider massaging the greens like you would for kale-this softens the leaves and helps them absorb the dressing better.

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Credit: David Malosh

6. Kiwifruits

Tangy and invigorating, kiwifruits are proof that good things come in small packages. They even have more vitamin C, ounce for ounce, than oranges and other citrus fruits. Despite their name, kiwifruits are native to China, not New Zealand. Today they are grown worldwide, including in Italy, now among the world's leading producers of the fruit. If you purchase one in its unripe (sour!) state, let it sit at room temperature until it yields to a gentle squeeze. Placing the fruit in a paper bag will hasten the ripening process. Kiwifruits of course make excellent additions to fruit salads, but they also make a delightful topping for oatmeal, yogurt, flan, and meringues, and can even go savory-in a salsa for fish or relish for shrimp.

Learn our easy two-step technique for peeling a kiwi:


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