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Learn how to bring out the best in B.C.'s winter veggie crops from Burdock and Co. chef Andrea Carlson.
(Photo: @LocalWanderer.)Spring may be just around the corner, but thanks to B.C.’s short winters and temperate climate, our winter vegetable crops are still in full force.“We’re so fortunate compared to a lot of the rest of the country,” says Chef Andrea Carlson of Vancouver’s Burdock and Co. “Winter vegetables take a bit more work than fresh salad mixes that you can eat straight out of the box, but if you dedicate a little more time to them, the reward will be there for sure.” Carlson, a pioneer of the 100-mile diet, shares with us why winter vegetables deserve more time in the spotlight and how to bring out the most in their natural flavours.
“My absolute favourite winter vegetable, hands down, is the sunchoke. If you haven’t tried them yet, they could change your life,” raves Carlson. Though they may be gnarly to look at and require a good scrubbing before use, this tuber is incredibly versatile, with an unexpected sweetness inside. Shave it raw on top of salads to experience its crisp, radish-like texture, or try Carlson’s delicious, nutty sunchoke terrine (recipe here), pan-seared to a perfect caramelized finish and served with fresh greens.
When it comes to sourcing local spuds, Pemberton’s fertile soil makes it a hotbed for an amazing variety of potatoes, so much so that the valley is an officially protected potato seed growing area. Some of Carlson’s favourites from Helmer’s Organic Farm in Pemberton include la ratte, a type of French fingerling potato whose drier texture lends itself perfectly to soaking up juices in stews, and the German Butter potato, which has a rich, creamy flesh similar to a Yukon gold.
It’s time to get past any bad childhood associations you may have with boiled carrots and open your mind to the rainbow of options available—Carlson is a fan of Pemberton’s North Arm Farm, which grows them in purple, red, white and yellow, in addition to the classic orange we all know. The Mount Pleasant chef is particularly fond of letting their natural colour and sweetness shine through in desserts, such as spiced carrot cake, or pureed and frozen with apples in a refreshingly juicy sorbet.
Want to add a bit more local greenery to your winter mix? Sprouts are one of the only greens consistently available throughout the seasons, thanks to the creative growing practices of companies like Food Pedalers, who build green houses out of shipping containers to ensure healthy crops year-round. Best of all? They deliver all their crops by bike.To try working more locally sourced, seasonal fare into your own life, Carlson recommends checking out Farm Folk City Folk, the Vancouver Farmer’s Market and the COABC for information on what’s in season, where to get it and event listings.