Winter Veggies from Virginia: What to Look for and How to Use Them

Finding fresh, locally-grown ingredients can be challenging when planning meals during the winter months. But with our temperate climate, we live in the perfect location for prime winter eating. Virginia farmers and farmers’ markets have a variety of seasonal winter vegetables that can help make your meals delicious and nutritious. From hearty root vegetables to crunchy greens, there are plenty of options. Let’s look at some of the best winter veggies you can find in Virginia and some ways to help you put them to good use.

IMAGE: Leap 4 Local

Cabbage And Brassicas

Ah, the brassicas! Among the most versatile vegetables, these hardy veggies love frost! Brassicas include cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, collards, and kale. They are hardy and can tolerate the cold, making them perfect for winter months. Plus, they are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.

For those of us in Virginia, it’s especially exciting to be able to buy these veggies locally. Some farm markets even have a mix of varieties, so you can really get creative in the kitchen. Here are some ideas for ways to use cabbage and brassicas:

  • Try adding shredded cabbage to salads or slaws for a crunchy texture. 
  • Roast broccoli florets in the oven for a crispy side dish. 
  • Give Brussels sprouts a quick sauté with garlic and olive oil for an easy veggie side. 
  • Make cauliflower rice for a healthier alternative to white rice.
  • Toss kohlrabi into a stir fry for a unique flavor.
  • Add collards to soups or stews for added nutrition. 
  • Use kale in smoothies for an extra dose of vitamins. 

So go out and try some of these winter veggies from Virginia farms! You’ll be glad you did!

IMAGE: Annemarie Schaepman

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are some of the most reliable crops for gardeners in Virginia. In the winter, they can provide an excellent source of nutrition and a tasty way to spruce up any meal. From beets to turnips, root vegetables are a great addition to your dinner table. 

Beets are one of the more popular root vegetables in Virginia. These vibrant vegetables come in various colors and sizes, including golden, red, and Chioggia. They can be roasted, boiled, or pickled – no matter how you prepare them, they’ll be sure to add a pop of color to your plate.

Carrots also provide a sweet flavor to any meal. As one of the most recognizable vegetables, carrots can be cooked in various ways and added to soups, stews, and salads. 

Turnips are another fantastic root vegetable that is popular in Virginia. These white and purple vegetables have a mild, peppery taste and can be steamed, boiled, or roasted. Don’t forget about parsnips! These cream-colored veggies have a hint of sweetness and can be boiled and mashed for a unique side dish. 

Root vegetables offer something for everyone – from the experienced chef to the beginner cook. So don’t miss out on these underground culinary treasures; pick up some root vegetables from your local farmer’s market this winter and get creative with your cooking!

Photo via Liz Thomson @ Pass Me a Spoon

Winter Squashes

When winter arrives, so do all the beautiful squash varieties, from sweet acorn to savory butternut. Whether you’re looking for something to roast, stuff, bake, or puree, there is a squash for you! 

Acorn squash is a great side dish with its sweet, nutty flavor. It can be roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices. You can also stuff it with a wild rice and mushroom mix or a blend of apples, onions, and herbs. 

Butternut squash is a classic winter vegetable that can be used in various ways. Roast it and use it as a topping on salads, tacos, or pizza. You can also puree it and add it to soups, sauces, or macaroni and cheese. For a sweeter version, add honey or brown sugar before roasting. 

Spaghetti squash is another delicious squash variety. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast it cut-side-down. Once cooked, use a fork to scrape out the “spaghetti” strands. Top with your favorite marinara sauce for a healthy dinner option. 

Finally, don’t forget about kabocha squash! Its creamy texture is perfect for puréed soups or mashed potatoes. You can also cube it and roast it for salads and side dishes. 

Get creative and try something new with winter squashes. There are so many fun and delicious recipes to explore!

IMAGE: Markus Winkler


Who doesn’t love potatoes? This classic comfort food can be enjoyed in so many ways. On the Eastern Shore of Virginia, potatoes are a popular crop. In fact, the Eastern Shore accounted for most of Virginia’s potato production in 2020, producing over 4 million bushels! You can find potatoes of all shapes and sizes, including red potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, and even fingerlings.

Potatoes are versatile and can be prepared in any number of ways – roasted, mashed, fried, boiled…the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re making a classic shepherd’s pie, a hearty chowder, or a creamy mashed potato dish, you’ll be sure to find what you need here in Virginia. Don’t forget about sweet potatoes; these orange-hued spuds are packed with vitamins and minerals.

For something a little different, try pairing potatoes with other local veggies for a delicious side dish. Roast them with Brussels sprouts and apples, or pair them with carrots and kale. No matter how you prepare them, potatoes from Virginia will bring a bit of warmth and comfort to your winter table.

Other Veggies

Beyond the staples of cabbages, root vegetables, and winter squashes, several other veggies may be found in Virginia during the winter months. You might be surprised to find a healthy mix of salad greens at your local farmers market, but with careful tending and covered crops, many Virginia farmers are able to keep these crunchy greens growing year-round.

Kale is a hearty green that can stand up to frost and can be found through the winter in Virginia. Baby kale has a slightly less bitter taste that pairs well with bacon or sausage and makes a great addition to a winter soup. Spinach also stands up to cold weather and will last throughout winter if kept regularly harvested. 

Swiss chard is similar to kale and comes in red and green varieties. It is delicious when sautéed with garlic and served as a side dish. You can use it fresh in salads or cooked into soups, casseroles, and quiches. Serve peas as a side dish cooked with butter and garlic, or use them to create your favorite stir-fry recipe.

Add More Flavor From Virginia

It’s easy to add flavor to your winter veggie dishes with products made in Virginia. Whether you’re looking for a touch of sweetness, some smokiness, or a little heat, many great options come locally.

If you’re looking to quickly enhance the flavor of your next meal, look no further than the Shenandoah Spice Company. With spice blends such as Veggie and Celery Salt, you can quickly bring out the flavors in any of your seasonal vegetable dishes. Falling Bark Farm Hickory Syrup is a fantastic way to add a smoky sweetness to roasted vegetables. 

AR’s Hot Southern Honey is also a great way to give your veggie dishes a touch of sweetness with a kick of heat. For those who like their food on the spicier side, Clark and Hopkins Virginia Hot Sauce is a great way to get that extra punch. Or, if you’re looking for something with a more unique flavor, try Golden Turmeric from J T Copper. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and spicy.

Last but not least, don’t forget to season your veggie dishes with salt. JQ Dickinson and Barrier Islands Salt are two distinctly flavored seasonings that bring out unique flavors of any dish. Try them both on simple roasted vegetables to compare the flavor; you’ll be surprised what a difference specialty salt can create!

When you’re looking to add some extra flavor to your winter veggies, remember to reach for products made in Virginia!

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