Reinvigorate your kitchen creativity by experimenting with new vegetables.

Beat the Winter Blahs with 5 In-Season Veggies

With fall’s bounty far in the past and spring greens still in the future, even the most enthusiastic cook may fall into the doldrums this time of year. Here are five vegetables you can still find fresh and in season, with some simple – and delicious – ways to savor their flavor.

1. Leeks

This often-overlooked member of the onion family is the basis for some of the best winter soups and stews. In fact, potato-leek soup is a staple of many European and American regional cuisines.

2. Winter Squash

One of the easiest vegetables to store from fall through the winter, dense squash such as butternut and acorn are the foundations of hearty cold-weather dishes.  They are also exceedingly versatile; you can roast them, puree them in soups, deep fry them until crispy, and even bake them in pies.

3. Brussels Sprouts

The comeback king of vegetables, this once-spurned member of the cabbage family now holds pride of place on hip restaurant menus all over town. While carmelized roasted Brussels sprouts is the dish du jour, they are also good in soups, stews, and even chopped as a salad.

4. Beets

Banish from your memory the canned beets of your childhood and instead start with a bunch fresh from a farmer’s market or corner vegetable stand. Beets can be boiled, roasted, or steamed. And don’t forget Borscht, one of winter’s most warming soups. Golden beets, with their milder flavor and sunny color, are one of the best ways to brighten a cold-season salad. For something even more exotic, try this yogurt and beet Tzatziki from Spice Box Travels.

5. Eggplant

From Italy’s eggplant parmesan to Levantine baba ghanoush, the lowly eggplant is a centerpiece of ethnic cuisines throughout the world. Moroccan Eggplant Salad, known as  Zaalouk, is a case in point, flavored with the rich spices of African Heritage Cuisine.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.