Season's best

As winter draws closer and we begin to prepare for the festive season, we see the return of clementines to our fruit baskets, and soup becomes a regular addition to the weekly meal plan – packed with wintery veg, from sweet leeks, to earthy carrots and parsnips.

Jewel-like pomegranate seeds are extremely versatile, and add a burst of sweetness to both sweet and savoury dishes. Try choosing pomegranates with smooth, shiny skins which are heavy for their size as they’ll be juicier. To remove the seeds, cut the pomegranate in half and, using a wooden spoon, bash the back of the pomegranate over a bowl to catch the seeds.

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Also in season...

Clementines

Clementines

Small and sweet, clementines are a hybrid of tangerines and oranges. Easy to peel and exceptionally sweet, there are over 20 varieties of clementine. The fruit will keep in the fridge for up to one week. To preserve their delicious flavour for longer, try making a zesty clementine curd.

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carrot

Carrots

This colourful root vegetable is brilliantly versatile – it can be eaten raw or cooked, and is great in both sweet and savoury dishes. Carrots were generally purple until the late 16th century, when the familiar orange variety we eat today was cultivated by Dutch farmers. Try gently roasting them with thyme, then whizzing with chickpeas and tahini for an earthy twist on houmous.

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apples

Apples

Apples are one of the UK's favourite fruits and with more than 7,000 varieties we are truly spoilt for choice. Whether you love a Braeburn, Golden Delicious, or a Pink Lady, crisp apples are delicious when baked into pies, topped with crumble, or coated in toffee. Keep apples in the fridge or a cool dark spot in a perforated bag. Keep an eye on them, as it's true that one bad apple can make others turn. Dessert apples are great in salads or on top of tarts as they hold their shape when cooked. Cooking apples lose texture and turn soft, so are best in pies or crumbles.

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Parsnips

Parsnips

Parsnips have an earthy flavour and were used in Europe as a sweetner before cane sugar arrived in the 1800s. Choose smaller parsnips, as larger ones are likely to be less sweet. They can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. They're lovely grated and eaten raw, roasted with maple syrup and rosemary or baked with miso and honey.

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Leeks

Leeks are from the same family as onions and garlic (allium), but have a much sweeter, milder flavour. According to legend, seventh-century Welsh soldiers wore leeks in their hats to distinguish them from the enemy army. Ever since, the allium has been one of Wales' national symbols. Choose leeks with bright green tops. Trim the root and leaf tops before rinsing well to remove grit and soil. For a sophisticated twist on cheese on toast, soften half a sliced leek in butter. Stir in crumbled blue cheese, then spoon onto a slice of crusty bread and grill until golden.

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