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Seasonal Eats: Add Local Flavor to Your Holiday Menu

Cara Cara Oranges (Photo by Heather Parlato)
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One of the great things about holiday fare is that it’s usually already seasonal, based on traditions that are older than the globalized food market. However, if you’re anything like me, you like a good blend of traditional favorites with some new and innovative flavors to mix things up. Also, these holidays originated in the north-east in the freezing cold, not the, uh, sometimes-very-rainy south-west.

On the traditional American table, holiday menus usually consist of fermented ciders, a stuffed bird or seasoned roast, mashed potatoes and yams, and late-season fruit puddings and pies. We can depend on these delicious comfort foods every year, but in the southern California landscape, there are a lot more fruits and vegetables that can add a fresh contrast of flavor. If you’re bringing a dish to share, surprise your friends and family with something new that highlights what we have growing in our mild winter climate.

In addition to leafy greens like swiss chard, which we looked at last week we’ve got broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fennel and salad greens ready this time of year. We’ve also got a great selection of squash, like pumpkin and butternut (many are ripe in fall, but keep all winter), and root veggies like beets, carrots, celery root, turnips and radishes. Add a spicy, garlicky broccoli sauté to the table, or introduce this delicious side dish of Chinese broccoli. Combine sweet squash and apples with a roasted butternut squash & apple salad. Mix root veggies into your mashed potatoes to put a spin on tradition with celery root and potato mash. Bring something totally unique like sweet potato kale patties.