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Cruciferous Crunch: Winter's Vege Powerhouse

When it comes to veges, have you ever wondered what is meant by the term "cruciferous?" 

 


Broccoli flowers

The word comes from the Latin term "Cruciferae," which means "cross-bearing," and describes the shape of these plants' blossoms. Their flowers, such as broccoli flowers, have four petals arranged in a distinct cross pattern.









Whilst not always everyone's top pick, cruciferous vegetables, also known as brassicas, are renowned for their high nutritional value and health benefits. Bursting with essential vitamins like C, K, and some B vitamins, along with minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, they are also a great source of fibre.


Common cruciferous vegetables include:


  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Cabbage

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Swede

  • Radishes


Cruciferous vegetables play a starring role in winter cooking, offering both hearty nutrition and robust flavours that are perfect for the colder months. They thrive in cooler temperatures, often becoming sweeter after being exposed to a frost, which is why the climate in Southland is perfect for cultivating the best-tasting swedes!


Their versatility makes them ideal for a variety of comforting winter dishes. Red or green cabbage is great in warming soups and stews, providing bulk and nutrition. Brussels sprouts can be a delight (bonus points if you weren't put off them in childhood) when roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, becoming crispy and caramelised. A far cry from the soggy blobs we endured as kids!




Swede, with its slightly sweet and earthy flavour, is perfect for mashing with butter and seasoning as a delicious side dish or adding to casseroles and roasts for added depth. My mum is the queen of roast dinners (as is everyone's mum!) and she would always include mashed swede in her Sunday roasts. Everyone else in my family would dutifully eat a tiny bit, whereas I loved it and happily ended up with a generous serving every week - yum!


Experiment with fresh herbs and different seasonings and embrace the winter bounty of cruciferous veges. Let them brighten up your winter table with their vibrant colours and robust flavours. Happy cooking!

 

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