Although temperatures usually start to improve in February, we are in winter and nature is still quite dormant in some areas. Little by little, the first signs appear that we are moving towards a new station.
If we want to feed ourselves more in accordance with nature, we must take it into account. The organs that still require special attention, according to traditional Chinese medicine, are kidneys and gallbladder .
But start thinking about the liver, the organ that governs in the spring, can help get to it more prepared and prevent allergies or asthenia.
What seasonal foods does the orchard offer in February?
In February the garden continues to produce many of the winter foods that we found in January. We have all the roots and vegetables that go so well to make creams, soups and stews: chard, borage, celery, all kinds of cabbage, pumpkin, thistle, onions, parsnips, spinach, turnip tops, winter leeks, beets, potatoes old …
Tender pods will gradually be added to the young beans , such as the long-awaited peas and snow peas . It is from this month on and those that will follow immediately when fresh peas, even raw, with all their sweetness can be eaten.
Raw peas will look great in salads, for which you will continue to count on winter lettuce, fennel, watercress or carrot .
If you are one of those who find it hard to give up tomatoes in winter, you can enjoy the much appreciated raf tomato , a variety less friend of the heat than most and which is now naturally picked in Andalusia.
As for fruits, some whose season began in autumn disappear. If you like persimmon or pomegranate , in some areas you may not find them; If you are lucky, take the opportunity to say goodbye to them.
They are still in season citrus, which in general endure the cold well. You will find oranges, among them the sanguine, grapefruit, lemons … You will even have clemenvillas, although in the case of tangerines the season is coming to an end. We also have apples, avocados, kiwis, mangoes, pineapples and tamarillos.
The majority of fruits and vegetables that reach the markets in February are maintained from the autumn or winter, although little by little we are seeing some that invite us to look at the time to come.
You can continue preparing spoon dishes and in turn lighten the menu with small delicacies whose season starts now.
1. Asparagus, a good depurative
When the winter softens, the first green asparagus are collected. They are finer than those of cultivation and green color, because when growing in sunlight, and not underground, they develop chlorophyll. If you go to the country you will see people looking for them , although they also reach the markets.
Asparagus is attributed a diuretic effect , both for its richness in potassium and the fragrant aspartic acid, which stimulates renal function.
They are, in addition, a vitamin treasure: they contribute mainly vitamin C and folic acid , but also abundant vitamin E, beta-carotene and other vitamins of group B.
How to cook them al dente
The best thing is to prepare them steamed or boiled very briefly , so they do not lose smoothness. Cut the whitish part and leave them all with a similar length. Place them in the steamer or, if it is in the pot, standing and tied with a thread; If the water does not cover the buds, you will prevent them from falling apart.
Cook them between 3 and 8 minutes, depending on the thickness.
2. Artichoke to take care of the liver
Among the edible flowers the artichoke is, without doubt, one of the most succulent. It combines sweet and bitter substances that give it a unique flavor, but also some properties that make it ideal to take care of the liver, heart and digestive system .
Among its bitter compounds cynarin, which stimulates the production of bile improves digestion; It also helps reduce cholesterol and regenerate the liver.
The sweet touch is inulin , a prebiotic that contributes to the regulation of blood sugar and the balance of the intestinal flora.
Its season begins in autumn, but the plant can have a second flowering, which takes place between February and March.
Raw in escarole salads, baked or grilled with a little oil and garlic, fried, sautéed or breaded, boiled or steamed, stewed, stuffed, in cream … the possibilities in the kitchen of artichokes are many.
In this season, taking advantage of the season, you can, for example, boil them and then stew them in stew, with asparagus and beans . In addition to garlic and parsley, thyme, sage and mint are very good for them.
3. Blood orange full of antioxidants
This orange, also called “red”, captivates with its attractive color, which is why it is best known. It is collected at the end of winter , after the cold of the nights has activated the pigments that dye it dark.
What is not known so much about this orange is that this color is due to its antioxidant anthocyanins . And, like the other orange varieties, it is rich in vitamin C, folic acid and calcium.
Depara juices of attractive red color and gives an original touch to the fruit carpaccios . A traditional association is endive, but also endive, watercress, spinach and canons.
The green bean and soy bean sprouts allow to make salads and vegetable dishes very showy to which the blood orange gives a sophisticated air.
4. Very tender peas rich in proteins
One of the delicacies offered by this season and the spring months are the peas, which if eaten freshly picked are much more tender and sweet .
Discarded the pod, and well fresh, the grains can be eaten raw. This way you can take advantage of your vitamin C , which is lost for the most part with cooking. If you decide to cook them, try not to overdo them.
Raw peas can be enjoyed alone, as children like, or added to salads.
Peas, in addition to providing protein and fiber , are rich in B vitamins. They also provide phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
It is convenient to consume them immediately, because with the days their sugars are transformed into starch, which diminishes their sweetness.
5. Red cabbage, a great protector
The sinuous leaves of this purple cabbage, cut in julienne, give a crispy and slightly sweet touch to the salad.
They provide vitamin C, B vitamins, and, like other cabbages, sulfur compounds with anticancer action .
But, in addition, they have anthocyanins: hence their purple color. And this is what multiplies its protective effect, since anthocyanins are antioxidant pigments that protect against cellular deterioration and reinforce cardiovascular health.
It is more digestive if eaten raw, in salads or simply alone with vinaigrette and cumin , but it is also delicious cooked, with onion, apple and a splash of vinegar.
Calcots are usually eaten roasted on the fire , accompanied by romesco sauce and other dishes made on the grill.
Actually, the calçots are the outbreaks of replanted onions. As they grow they go ” calzado” ( calçant in Catalan), that is to say, they are covered with earth so that they remain white, and that is the part that is eaten roasted.
Like onions and chives, calçots are rich in sulfur compounds with bactericidal and antimicrobial properties. They are considered prebiotics and good allies of the blood circulation.
The romesco sauce feels great to calçots, but learn to do to accompany any grilled vegetables will give you many points at barbecues.
7. Pak choi, the Chinese cabbage of the big pencas
With large green leaves and thick white pencas, this vegetable known as bok choy or pak choi can be reminiscent of a lettuce or a chard, but belongs to the family of cabbages.
Of slightly sweet flavor, it is a basic ingredient of Chinese cuisine and oriental medicine. It is often used in soups, sautéed in wok or steamed , cooked only lightly so that it does not lose color and its refreshing pads remain al dente.
Like other cabbages, it contains sulfur compounds that protect against cancer. To this preventive power is added that of its vitamins: especially abundant are beta-carotene and vitamins B6, C and folic acid.
It is also a good source of calcium, which the body assimilates easily.
Try it to sauté three minutes with ginger and garlic .
8. Avocado, the most unctuous energy
We can find avocados all year round, but their best season is from September to March. Under its rough skin the avocado hides an unctuous pulp that nourishes, regulates cholesterol and gives you vitality.
Its fats are of quality, because they are monounsaturated fats like olive oil: it increases the good HDL cholesterol and reduces the bad LDL, which is beneficial for the arteries. It also provides vitamin E, which is an antioxidant and protects cell membranes.
It is ideal for preparing vegetable patés and giving greasiness to your vegetable mousses.
You can also use the avocado as if it were butter , smearing the pulp over the bread. Pour over a few drops of lemon to improve its flavor and so that it does not darken.
If you prepare a smoothie with a vegetable milk – almond or hazelnut, for example – you will get a dessert as simple as it is spectacular because of its flavor and texture (kids love it!).
9. Lettuce buds with all their freshness
For years we see lettuce buds in all the supermarkets, not always of too much quality. However, this dwarf variety of romaine lettuce, which naturally forms buds, has tender, thick leaves that are cultivated with care and captivate for their firmness and intensity of flavor.
Like other lettuce, the buds provide a variety of minerals and are a good source of vitamins A, C and folic acid. In the trunk they contain, in addition, a white latex to which relaxing properties are attributed.
Cut them to quarters and season them with oil, garlic and lemon. Or try them, for example, accompanied by a pesto of spinach and dried tomatoes with pine nuts, basil and nutritional yeast.
10. Apiopia, a stranger who triumphs in haute cuisine
Maybe this type of celery , popular in Central Europe, has gone unnoticed in the market with its humble appearance, but it is worth discovering. Even the great chefs have noticed him.
It is light, remineralizing and, like the celery branch, rich in apigenin , an anti-inflammatory and anticancer flavonoid.
You can take it in salad with slices or strips, or boil it with potato and puree it. You can also grill it with parsnips or bake it with oil and aromatic herbs.
11. Kiwi for your defenses and skin
New Zealand kiwi environmental objections due to the long trip that must be made. The kiwis that come from Galicia, the Basque Country, Asturias and northern Portugal can not be criticized at all. Look at the origin!
Kiwi begins to mature in autumn and its season lasts until the end of winter, an era all this in which its richness in vitamin C comes very well for the defenses and to keep the skin young.
A single kiwi (about 100 g) more than covers the daily needs of the antioxidant vitamin C.
Its popularity as a regulatory fruit is also well deserved. Your fiber not only relieves constipation but also contributes to the protection of the cardiovascular system and the colon.
To take advantage of it, try brushing the skin to remove the hair and eat it with her.
12. Red chard, a nutritious pump that helps clean
The humble vegetables are sometimes the most generous: Swiss chard gives you very good doses of minerals as potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, in addition to vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C.
During autumn and winter it is possible to find very fresh chard that will be delicious in stews and as garnish , simply boiled and seasoned with a splash of olive oil. You can also simply scald or steam them for a few minutes.
The touch of color in the red variety is put antioxidant pigments called betalains , which enhance detoxification. A serving of 150 g gives you all the provitamin A required per day and a quarter of the iron.
In addition, chard contains 13 antioxidant polyphenols, including syringic acid, which promotes the control of blood sugar levels because it inhibits the conversion of carbohydrates into simple sugars.