The winter garden can be a slightly gloomy affair, but some hardy leafy plants such as chard, silverbeet, chicory, radicchio, boy choy and spinach survive in most climates, with the exception of areas that experience severe frosts. Red-leafed varieties are especially successful in cold weather and provide welcome colour in winter dishes.
In the garden
If planted in late summer, crops such as spinach, lamb's lettuce (mache), bok choy, silverbeet and radicchio will be ready for harvest in late autumn. Soft-leafed lettuces are best planted in spring and summer as they do not cope well with the cold.
In the kitchen
The Italians greatly value bitter greens throughout the winter; they are considered a liver cleanser and digestive aid in a season of traditionally heavy and stodgy food. For a very pretty, light winter salad with a fresh, light flavour toss a few leaves of red radicchio through a green salad with segments of fresh orange and avocado and finish with a little chopped parsley. Dress with fresh orange juice and ground black pepper.