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15 inspiring recipes for cooking with winter produce

Watermelon radish and fennel salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette from Denise Woodward of Chez Us
Watermelon radish and fennel salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette from Denise Woodward of Chez Us
Denise Woodward and Laudalino Ferreira

Think winter is a bleak and barren wasteland of boring root vegetables? Think again, because there's so much more to winter produce than meets the eye. Winter is a great time to take advantage of dark, leafy greens at their peak — spinach, kale, and collard greens come to mind — and anything remotely related to cabbage, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts (everyone's favorite), bok choy, and yes, kale. Let's not forget about citrus, either — Meyer lemons, anyone?

But, a trip to the farmers' market will reveal the fact that even root vegetables can be exciting. Winter is a great time to seek out more obscure items at the farmers' market, including watermelon radishes, heirloom variety potatoes, and black salsify.

For some (perhaps much needed) inspiration, take a whirl through this collection of 15 recipes, including David Chang's Brussels sprouts with kimchi purée and bacon, reminiscent of the popular side dish that was once on the menu at his Noodle Bar; Andrew Carmellini's coconut-curry butternut squash soup, inspired by his adventures with Indian cuisine in New York; and Chad Sarno's crunchy kale salad, a perfect start to a healthy meal.

Andrew Carmellini's coconut-curry butternut squash soup
Andrew Carmellini's coconut-curry butternut squash soup Quentin Bacon

Andrew Carmellini's coconut-curry butternut squash soup

Andrew Carmellini shares his recipe for coconut-curry butternut squash soup with lemongrass and cilantro yogurt from his recently published book, "American Flavor."

Seamus Mullen's winter market soup
Seamus Mullen's winter market soup PANNA

Seamus Mullen's winter market soup

Seamus Mullen's winter market soup is a meal in a bowl. Every bite reveals a complex array of flavors — the mineral punch of kale, pungent horseradish, the brightness of lemon zest, and always ever present, the earthy, meaty flavor of the broth.

Watermelon radish and fennel salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette
Watermelon radish and fennel salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette Denise Woodward and Laudalino Ferreira

Watermelon radish and fennel salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette

This salad from Denise Woodward of Chez Us combines two ingredients every cook waits for with great anticipation each year: watermelon radishes and Meyer lemons.

Taylor Boudreaux's warm Brussels sprout salad with pancetta
Taylor Boudreaux's warm Brussels sprout salad with pancetta Published with permission of Napa Valley Grille

Taylor Boudreaux's warm Brussels sprout salad with pancetta

This warm Brussels sprout salad from Taylor Boudreaux of Napa Valley Grille in Los Angeles is reported to be a favorite of Julia Roberts. Maybe it's the pancetta. It's probably the pancetta.

Roasted beet salad
Roasted beet salad Denise Woodward and Laudalino Ferreira

Roasted beet salad

Sometimes, the simplest things in life are best. This roasted beet salad from Denise Woodward, author of Chez Us, is one of them. Oh, did we mention it has burrata?

Crunchy kale salad from Whole Foods Market
Crunchy kale salad from Whole Foods Market PANNA

Crunchy kale salad from Whole Foods Market

Sometimes, we feel a bit guilty about the things we've eaten. It's perfectly normal. Set things right again with this healthy yet delicious crunchy kale salad from Chad Sarno.

Spinach arancine
Spinach arancine Manuela Zangara

Spinach arancine

Manuela Zangara, author of Manu's Menu, created these spinach arancine from scratch. They're well worth the effort and are sure to impress guests.

Mini lemon-thyme potato bites
Mini lemon-thyme potato bites Amie Valpone

Mini lemon-thyme potato bites

Amie Valpone, author of The Healthy Apple, likes to serve these mini lemon-thyme potato bites as passed hors d'oeuvres or appetizers when entertaining at home.

Kale pesto
Kale pesto Viviane Bauquet Farre

Kale pesto

A must-have at all times during the winter, this deep green kale pesto created by Viviane Bauquet Farre of Food & Style is fantastic smeared on some toasted bread or tossed into fresh pasta.

David Chang's Brussels sprouts with kimchi purée and bacon
David Chang's Brussels sprouts with kimchi purée and bacon Published with permission of All-Clad

David Chang's Brussels sprouts with kimchi purée and bacon

David Chang's unexpected hit at Noodle Bar was a version of this side dish, which became so popular, he had to take it off the menu. Try his Brussels sprouts with kimchi purée and bacon tonight.

Creamed collard greens with pimentón dulce
Creamed collard greens with pimentón dulce Viviane Bauquet Farre

Creamed collard greens with pimentón dulce

This delicious side dish draws inspiration from Spanish cooking with the use of pimentón dulce, a smoky-sweet variety of paprika. Don't miss out on Viviane Bauquet Farre's creamed collard greens with pimentón dulce.

Vic Rallo's roasted broccoli rabe
Vic Rallo's roasted broccoli rabe Published with permission of Vic Rallo

Vic Rallo's roasted broccoli rabe

Vic Rallo, Jr. shares a simple side dish that's a favorite at his restaurant in New Jersey: roasted broccoli rabe. If you're having a rich main entrée, like a hearty wild boar stew, sometimes a little hint of bitterness is just what you need to cut through the fat.

Wild mushroom confit with garlic and fresh herbs
Wild mushroom confit with garlic and fresh herbs Viviane Bauquet Farre

Wild mushroom confit with garlic and fresh herbs

This wild mushroom confit with garlic and fresh herbs from Viviane Bauquet Farre, author of Food & Style, is a fantastic way to take advantage of the bounty of mushrooms available at the farmers' market in the winter.

Pappardelle with radicchio and speck
Pappardelle with radicchio and speck Manuela Zangara

Pappardelle with radicchio and speck

The smoky flavor of speck pairs well with naturally bitter radicchio in this simple weeknight pasta recipe from Manuela Zangara, author of Manu's Menu.

Orecchiette with sausage and fennel tops
Orecchiette with sausage and fennel tops Manuela Zangara

Orecchiette with sausage and fennel tops

Can't figure out what to do with those leftover fennel tops? Use them for this easy orecchiette with sausage and fennel tops from Manuela Zangara.