Season's best

Brighten up dark January nights by adding a mix of colourful seasonal produce to your shopping basket; from jammy sweet potatoes to creamy avocados and crunchy kale. Earthy winter veg such as sweet roasted parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli and crisp savoy cabbage make a nice addition to evening meals.

These versatile sweet, orange spuds have become a storecupboard staple. Sweet potatoes can be treated in the same way as white potatoes and are great for baking, roasting or mashing. For healthier oven chips, cut into wedges and toss with olive oil, paprika and seasoning before roasting.

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Also in season...

Purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli

Purple sprouting broccoli is sweeter than the familiar calabrese variety, with more florets. Broccoli has been grown in the UK for over 300 years, but it’s only in the last 30 years that the purple sprouting type has become popular. Look for dark, purple-green florets. Steam for 2-3 minutes, until tender, to retain more nutrients. Lightly stir-fry, then toss with puy lentils, red onion and feta for a quick, nutritious lunch.

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Avocado

Avocado

Native to South America, avocados are also known as ‘butter pears’ thanks to their smooth, silky flesh. The skin colour is not a rue indication of ripeness. There are two main types: the dark purple, rough-skinned Hass and the smooth, green-skinned Fuerte. Choose avocados that are firm but give a little when gently squeezed. To prepare, cut into the avocado and slice around the stone, creating 2 halves; twist to separate. Save any unused fruit by squeezing lemon over the flesh and freezing. Use to add richness to smoothies, or griddle wedges for a few mins and add to a warm lentil and sundried tomato salad.

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Pink grapefruit

Pink grapefruit

Super-sweet and juicy with a fragrant, tangy flavour, the pink variety from Florida is at its best in January. Named because it grows on trees in grape-like clusters, grapefruit is a hybrid of the orange and the Asian pomelo fruit. Try making a grapefruit curd to use in a twist on a traditional lemon meringue pie.

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Cabbage

Savoy cabbage

This dark green, crinkly cabbage has a sweet, earthy flavour and is great eaten cooked or raw. Savoy has slightly looser leaves than other cabbage varieties, but its head should still be compact with crisp leaves and feel weighty. This dark green brassica has a distinctive sweet, slightly earthy taste that stands up well against rich, bold or meaty flavours. Mix with mashed potato to make colcannon, or use in a winter soup with cannellini beans, chopped cooked bacon and thyme.

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Kiwi fruit

Kiwi fruit

This fuzzy brown fruit has juicy sweet, emerald flesh and is a good source of fibre and vitamin C. Named after the native bird of New Zealand, kiwis actually originate from China and are grown as far afield as South America, Greece and Italy. The fruit should be firm but yielding when gently squeezed. If it needs more ripening, try putting it in a paper bag with a banana to speed up the process. Remove the inedible skin with a vegetable peeler, or cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. The sweet yet sharp flavour pairs well with rich, oily mackerel. Or try mixing chopped kiwi with red onion, lime juice, coriander and chilli for a salsa to serve alongside spicy dishes.

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