Throughout the summer months and into the fall, Ontario explodes with farmer’s markets. As a result, produce stands pop-up on the side of the roads and the grocery stores are full to the brim, with delicious, fresh, local ingredients. But, did you know that the availability of delicious, local Ontario produce doesn’t end in the winter just because the days are shorter, and the nights are colder?
In January, you can still purchase an abundance of local Ontario winter produce: beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, garlic, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, rutabaga, sprouts, squash, sweet potatoes, along with apples, rhubarb and strawberries!
I’ve used many of these ingredients in my Ontario Winter Produce Tacos. Not only is this meal delicious, it is also good for you, as it’s all veggies!
Don’t feel you have to use every ingredient I’ve included, but I encourage you to roast some Ontario veggies, make a flavourful puree, add some freshness and crunch (like the slaw), then experiment with your favourite local cheeses and have fun at the table eating with friends & family.
- Marinated Ontario Red Onions (make ahead – recipe below*)
- Roasted Ontario Apple & Butternut Squash Puree (make ahead – recipe below**)
- Roasted Ontario Winter Root Vegetables (recipe below***)
- Crispy Ontario Red Cabbage, Green Apple & Carrot Slaw (recipe below****)
- 2 Ontario Beets, roasted & thinly sliced (roast yourself or buy precooked)
- 2 cups, thinly sliced Ontario Cucumber
- 1 cup, Ontario Carrots, thinly sliced into matchsticks
- 1 cup shredded or crumbled, Ontario Cheese (your favourite – cheddar, blue, brie, etc.)
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 Ontario Leaf or Bib Lettuce (washed, dried and left as whole leaves)
- 8 Ontario Cremini Mushrooms, thinly sliced (sautéed in butter & thyme)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 16-20 medium size tortillas
- Hot sauce (optional but suggested)
The night before (or the morning of), make the Marinated Ontario Red Onions.
Make ahead the Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash Puree and refrigerate until ready to use (warm slightly in a pan or microwave).
90 minutes before, preheat oven to 400 °F and prepare Roasted Ontario Winter Root Vegetables as per the recipe.
While the vegetable roasted, prepare the Crispy Ontario Red Cabbage, Green Apple & Carrot Slaw as per the recipe. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prepare the Ontario Beets, Cucumbers, Carrots and grate the cheese. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a small bowl, mix the sour cream & yogurt together and refrigerate until ready to use.
10 minutes prior to serving, heat a large skillet with the butter and thyme. Add the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat until cooked through (stirring occasionally).
Heat tortilla in a pan, the oven or microwave and wrap in foil to keep them warm.
Spread a little puree on a tortilla, add roasted vegetables, mushrooms and/or beets, add some red onions, then add the crispy slaw, cucumbers and/or carrots, finish with sour cream mixture, cheese and/or hot sauce.
Use the lettuce in your tortilla or replace the tortilla with a lettuce leaf wrap.
In short you can mix and match the ingredients and play with cheese options to find your favourite combination!
* Marinated Ontario Red Onions
- 1 medium Ontario Red Onion
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Mix the Italian seasoning, vinegar & oil in a small bowl or small mason jar.
Thinly slice the onion and place the onion in the oil mixture. The oil should cover all the onions, so that they all get marinated evenly.
Cover and leave at room temperature for at least 12 hours before serving.
Leftover onions should be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days and used in salads, with eggs, steaks or other dishes that would pair well with onions. Any leftover oil should be also be used in a salad dressing or marinade.
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Inactive Time: 12 hours
** Roasted Ontario Apple & Butternut Squash Puree
- 2 large Ontario apples (Macintosh or Cortland)
- One 2-3 pound Ontario butternut squash
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (or sweet paprika if preferred)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Peel & core the apples, then cut them into 8 equal chunks (not slices). Set apple pieces onto a small baking sheet lined with parchment.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, cut the halves in half, separating the neck from the base. Set skin side down onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment.
Slide both baking sheets into the oven, with the apples closest to the heating element. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the apples are nice and caramelized around the edges. Remove apples from oven and set aside to cool.
Flip the squash so the flesh is down and return to the oven in the lower position (closest to the heating element). Cook the squash for another 25-30 minutes, until the surfaces have caramelized, and the flesh is soft all the way through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Add apples to the bowl of a food processor. Once the squash is cool, scoop the cooked flesh from the peel and add to the food processor, making sure to include all the caramelized bits. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil, then pulse until completely smooth (scraping down the sides with a spatula). Taste for seasoning and add more if desired. Serve warm.
This puree keeps in the fridge for up to a week, in an airtight container. Any leftover puree should be also be used as a side dish with other meals.
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour | Serves: 8-10 (as a condiment/spread)
*** Roasted Ontario Winter Root Vegetables
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large Ontario carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼” semi circles
- 2 Ontario parsnips, peeled and sliced into ¼” semi circles
- 3 Ontario leeks, white & light green only, slice into ½” circles
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place carrots, parsnips, leeks in a large bowl and toss with oil and salt & pepper. Spread the vegetables onto one large or two medium rimmed sheet pans, ensuring they don’t overlap. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the vegetables begin to crisp and are easily pierced with a fork.
Wrap with foil, return to oven and turn off oven. Let veggies sit in oven 10 – 20 minutes until ready to serve. Remove from oven and serve warm!
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hour | Serves: 6-8
**** Crispy Ontario Red Cabbage, Green Apple and Carrot Slaw
- 2 cups thinly sliced Ontario Red Cabbage
- 2 small (1 large) Ontario Green Apples, cored and thinly sliced into strips
- 1 small Ontario Carrot, thinly sliced into matchsticks or grated
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional but suggested)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a bowl mix together cabbage, apples and carrots.
In a small jar, combine vinegar, hot sauce, sugar, mustard, pepper, dill and oil. Shake well and pour over cabbage mixture. Mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or until ready to use.
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 6-8 (as a taco topping)
Hope you enjoy this recipe! I would love to hear your feedback in the “comments” below!