Seasonal Eating Guide: What to eat in November

Red and white winter radishes
Winter radishes

November is not often the loveliest month to shop at the market.  It can be grey and wet and miserable for days and days on end, yet it somehow the weather fits with the produce on offer: the potatoes and carrots and pumpkins, countless sorts of cabbage and all manner of knobbly rooty things covered in earth.  They’d look all wrong in the sunshine, I think.  Plus they taste all the better when you’ve scrubbed and cooked them whilst it’s cold and damp and dark outside.  So, in my penultimate seasonal eating guide for the year, here’s what to eat in November…

Winter radishes (Radieschen)

Round, white winter radishes
Winter radishes

Winter radishes come in just about any form, size and colour you can think of, from purple, carrot-shaped marvels to smooth white globes.  What they all have in common are their crunchy texture, peppery flavour and bunches of bright green leaves (which, incidentally, you shouldn’t just chuck out – how about trying radish top pesto?).  The roots themselves vary in their peppery intensity, but every last one is crisp and crunchy and a terrific antidote to the large plates of festive biscuits that appear with the beginning of Advent.  The Germans often serve them raw and whole alongside coldcuts and bread for dinner, but there are plenty of other lovely things you could do with them, such as:

★ Yotam Ottolenghi’s crunchy kohlrabi, carrot and mixed radish salad,
Anna Jones’s honey roasted radishes, or
★ Diana Henry’s radish, olive, anchovy and parsley salad.

Jerusalem artichokes (Topinambure)

White Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes

Not to be nominally confused with the leafy green globe artichoke, the Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke, is a sweet-flavoured sunflower tuber that looks a bit like a earthy chunks of ginger, and comes in shades of red as well as dirty white.  If you’re new to these delicious knobbly tubers – which, be warned, are well known for having rather gusty side effects – I’d suggest trying them in:

★ Nigel Slater’s Jerusalem artichokes with leeks and black pudding
★ Diana Henry’s chicken braised with shallots and chicory with a Jerusalem artichoke purée, or
★ or Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem artichoke and goats cheese soufflé with walnuts.

Autumn vegetables at a market
Turnips, purple carrots and salsify

Black salsify (Schwarzwurzel)

It’s hard to believe that a vegetable that looks like a dirty great stick could have such a delicate, more-ish flavour, so if you’ve never tried it, you’ll probably be surprised to hear that black salsify is so good.  Once you’ve peeled it and prepared it (a deeply unpleasant, sticky mess), then braised, roasted, boiled or mashed it, you’ll find it has a subtle taste reminiscent of oysters – which is why it’s often called “oyster plant”.  Because of its mild taste, I think it’s best to match it with other non-overwhelming flavours, choosing simple dishes such as:

★ Niamh Shields’ salsify and roast garlic soup,
★ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s gratin, with roast chicken, roast potatoes and kale with bacon and chestnuts, or
★ a German veal meatball and salsify stew.

Horseradish (Meerettich)

Horseradish conjures up three classic culinary images in my mind: poached salmon sandwiches with horseradish sauce stuffed between slices of fluffy white bread; a proper English roast beef with lashings of grated horseradish stirred into whipped cream; and a classic German boiled beef fillet (Tafelspitz) with horseradish sauce.  I feel almost faint with joy just thinking of any of the three of those, yet there are all sorts of other wonderful things you can try with this big, white, peppery hot root.  This month, I’d like to make:

smoked trout and horseradish pâté,
★ Heston Blumenthal’s spelt risotto with beetroot and horseradish, and
★ Nigel Slater’s roasted rib of beef with horseradish glaze.

Also in season in November:

Apples (Äpfel),  beetroot (Rote Bete), brussels sprouts (Rosenkohl), chestnuts (Maronen), kale (Grünkohl), kohlrabi (Kohlrabi) and savoy cabbage (Wirsing).

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  1. says: Ginger

    Your photographs are just beautiful – they want me turn vegetarian! I have never tried Jerusalem artichokes and the last time I saw black salsify in a market was in Belfast – I love them, their taste and texture reminding me of the white asparagus that is popular in Germany but unheard of here in Britain.
    Now when you mention Tafelspitz, that’s when my dreams of vegetarianism end! Thanks for posting the horseradish recipes, I’ll be checking them out over the next days 🙂
    Ginger x

    1. You’re welcome, and thank you very much!! I just whipped my camera-phone out at the market 😉 Jerusalem artichokes really are lovely – you should be able to find them somewhere like Waitrose, I’d have thought. And you’re absolutely right, salsify is really just like a sort of winter Spargel.

      Mmmm, Tafelspitz 😀

  2. says: bevchen

    I just tried salisfy for the first time at the weekend – my neighbour made some in bechamel sauce for my Christmas dinner.

    We’ve been eating so many chestnuts lately. I LOVE them!!

    1. Brussels sprouts. Can’t get enough of them. Just have to do something that is not boiling them and they’re bloody amazing 😉

      (There’s some sprouts recipes in the “also in season” link at the bottom of the post… I have a feeling we may have discussed them at length at the end of last winter 😉 )

  3. says: natalye

    Nice roundup. I tried Schwarzwurzel for the first time a couple weeks ago but I wasn’t super impressed. Then again, I don’t like oysters, so… but perhaps I will give it another shot in a different recipe.

  4. says: Laura

    I hadn’t heard of Schwarzwurzel before, but will be sure to keep an eye out for it at the market! I love oysters, so I have high hopes 🙂

    Great suggestion to search for salsify recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi… his pairing with mushrooms and barley sounds excellent!

        1. says: 2nd Avenue

          I had been playing with the comment features and apparently left things as they shouldn’t have been! I’ve extended the ‘comments open’ period 🙂

          And I’m making salsify tonight! It was a lot of work to prep (so sandy! so much peeling), so my fingers are crossed that it will be worth the effort!

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