Once the clocks go back Winter is hard to ignore with it’s short daylight hours and long dark nights. Curled up indoors, house full of candles, glass of red wine, very Hygge! In fact throw in a great Winter sunset and I’m truly happy. Of course come February I’m bored with foul weather and want Spring to arrive and with it longer daylight hours. However until then I have the notion of a cozy Winter.
Is there anything better than coming in from a Winter walk to a house warm with the smells of cooking? Kicking off boots and unwrapping ourselves from multiple layers of wool, ready to sit down and eat. To me Winter is the perfect excuse to eat proper comfort food!
Funnily enough I also find myself using my oven more during the cold months of Winter. Whether its allowing a pot of stew to simmer away slowly or baking a warm pudding, the oven is often on. And don’t get me started on all the warm spices that I enjoy cooking with: cinnamon; nutmeg; cloves to name but a few! I am by nature a very seasonal cook and I embrace the best that every season has to offer.
The recipes in this article are great Winter warmers and all need a little time in the oven. Filing our homes with wonderful aromas and allowing us to get on with something else. The recipes featured include stews with a twist or hint of spice, a meat-free option, and a comforting alternative to the casserole, but delicious nonetheless.
First up in our Winter Warmer recipe collection we have our own Beef Ragu. This Italian style beef stew is simplicity itself and best enjoyed with gnocchi and a nice glass of red wine in my opinion. However pasta works well too. It’s an easy dish to prepare, once assembled the oven really does all the work for you. It’s worth mentioning that this dish would also work well in a slow cooker.
Charlotte of Charlottes Lively Kitchen shares with us her recipe for Easy Irish Stew. Charlotte says “This stew is perfect for those evenings, I’ll start getting it ready after the school run, and then it’s cooking away in the oven for 1½ hours while I’m getting on with better things.” That’s the benefit of this type of cooking, this dish is simple to prepare making it ideal for a busy parent. I also love Charlotte’s addition of pearl barley, a tasty grain as well as a good gravy thickener.
As an alternative to stews and casseroles we have Jacqui from Recipes Made Easy sharing one of her favourite Winter meals, her recipe for Toad in the Hole. Jacqui sums this recipe up perfectly“If this isn’t Winter comfort food, I don’t know what is. While stews and casseroles are ideal in the Winter, the downside is they take a long time to cook.” Funnily enough the week I started writing this was the week the weather here really changed. Lots of rain, wind and heavy grey skies has us wanting to curl up and hunker down and this recipe was top of my list for the family. Just remember the onion gravy!
A Touch of Spice:
I do enjoy a dish that’s a complete meal, one such dish is our Chicken & Squash Curry. This recipe was specifically designed to be a one-pot meal for friends of ours who want to have something cooking while they are out, ready to eat when they come home. This recipe uses a whole chicken, with the vegetables added to the pot and cooked in a spicy curry paste. This is as close to one-pot perfect as it comes for me. I make this dish, or a variation of it, a lot as the whole family enjoy it. Again this recipe is easily adapted for the slow cooker.
So often when one thinks of comfort food they envisage warm plates of meat stew. However that need not be the case as demonstrated by our next dish from Monika at Everyday Healthy Recipes. Monika’s recipe for Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chilli is packed full of vegetables and beans. I love a good vegetarian chilli and with the addition of butternut squash this one ticks all the boxes. As Monika points out “This butternut squash chilli is a true winter warmer – spicy, hearty and filling. Roasting the squash separately rather than cooking it in the chilli really brings out all the sweet honey notes in this delicious vegetable. Which offsets the sharp flavour of the tomato sauce.” Leave out any yogurt or sour cream accompaniment and this dish is ideal for a Vegan diet too.
A thank you to all our recipe contributors. I hope you enjoy trying out some of these dishes as the nights get colder.