Presented by:        

Beat the winter blahs with cool-season aahs!

Oranges brighten gray winter days, bringing not-too-tart juiciness to savory and sweet dishes.

Oranges brighten gray winter days, bringing not-too-tart juiciness to savory and sweet dishes.

Kathy Morrison

Elsewhere around the country, snow and freezing weather shut down garden-minded cooks. But here in Sacramento, we make full use of year-round gardening – and our cool-season harvest.

In this recipe collection, discover 70 delicious ways to enjoy our local harvest of winter fruit and vegetables. Packed with nutritious fresh produce, these recipes will help you eat healthier, too.

Start your day with a hearty, fruity breakfast treat such as fluffy lime scones or triple apple coffee cake. In this collection, find 18 breakfast recipes to wake up your taste buds.

Leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach and bok choy come into season at the same time we’re trying to eat healthier – at the start of the new year. Enjoy vegetable-forward main dishes, salads and soups that are packed with antioxidants and great taste. (There are several vegetarian options, too!)

Asparagus – a seasonal treasure – sprouts with the first warmth of late February or March. It’s been a local favorite for generations in such recipes as baked asparagus a la Sacramento.

What about fruit? Citrus – California’s star winter crop for generations – adds zest and juicy flavor to a wide range of winter recipes from blood orange mimosas and grapefruit-roasted beet-avocado chopped salad to fresh lemon pasta and Meyer lemon crème brûlée. Simple kumquat sauce can go sweet (as a dessert-like topping for yogurt or pound cake) or savory as a tart complement to grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.

Apples and persimmons may be holdovers from late fall, but they add sweetness and flavor to hearty desserts and baked goods.  

In late winter, the season’s first strawberries can be showcased in old-fashioned desserts such as strawberry fool or strawberry spoon cake.

So many possibilities! These recipes prove that – even in the dark days of winter – you still can eat local, in season – and fresh.  (That’s another reason why we dig gardening – and cooking – in Sacramento!)

Featured vegetables: Asparagus, Beans (dried), Beets, Bok Choy, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Cardoon, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Fava Greens, Fennel, Garlic, Greens, Herbs, Kale, Leek, Onion, Potato, Pumpkin, Spinach, Sweet Potato, Turnip

Featured fruit and nuts: Almond, Apple, Avocado, Grapefruit, Kumquat, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Orange, Rose Hip, Persimmon, Pomegranate, Strawberry

Appetizers and beverages

Put a new (and very pretty) twist on brunch with our blood orange Mimosa, which can be made with the sparkler of your choice (including sparkling cider). Toasted coconut-lime popcorn is a quick and easy snack for game days or binge watching TV.


We love a hot breakfast or something warm from the oven on a cold winter morning. Break from the ordinary with these flavorful (and often healthy) options including fruity muffins, scones, breakfast rolls, coffee cakes, quick breads and frittatas, plus variations on old favorites such as applesauce pancakes or Meyer lemon baked French toast.

Soups and salads

Winter vegetables and fruit add variety, color and crunch to flavorful salads such as our grapefruit, avocado and fennel salad or our mandarin slaw. Warm up with hearty (and vitamin-packed) soups such as Dino-mite Portuguese kale soup or vegetarian tortilla soup.

Vegetable side dishes

These supporting players spotlight some of our favorite winter vegetables in unusual ways such as white bean and fennel casserole, roasted cauliflower with spices and almonds or baked asparagus a la Sacramento.

Main dishes

Packed with flavor, these vegetable-forward entrees are hearty enough for a cold winter night. Spice up your dinner menu with pumpkin, black bean and pork enchiladas, quinoa stew with potatoes, spinach and chard or vegetarian chili with butternut squash.

Fruit-focused desserts

Looking for a sweet ending to any meal? Strawberries, Meyer lemons, oranges, apples and more star in these fruit-packed treats, ranging from homey strawberry spoon cake and lemon bread pudding with yogurt to fresh orange custard and Meyer lemon bars with almond shortbread crust.

Preserves and condiments

Save the flavors of the season for use year round. That includes small-batch refrigerator lime marmalade, candied citrus peel and rose hip jelly. For a truly different kind of pickled vegetable, try marinated cardoon – an Italian delicacy.