Winter Favorites from NC State Dining

The cold winter months are a perfect time to try new recipes. We’ve compiled some of our favorite winter recipes, straight from the kitchen of our chefs! From starters to desserts, these recipes are sure to impress. 

Winter Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup

Straight from the kitchen of Chef Brian, this soup is a delightful way to start any holiday meal. 

This classic hearty soup uses two kinds of winter squash and gets some added heft from Idaho or russet potatoes. This recipe is easy to adapt to any dietary constraints you might have! Try oil instead of butter and coconut cream instead of heavy cream to make this vegan.

Winter squash is a GREAT source of vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, and fiber, all of which help keep your immune system at its peak during the winter and year-round. Vitamin A is ‘fat-soluble’, so by cooking it in just a little bit of oil or butter, it’s more readily used by your body than if it were fat-free. Not a fan of added oil? The crunchy pecan or pepita garnish is another way to get those healthy fats into this already amazing recipe.

Grilled Arugula, Pumpkin, & Goat Cheese Bruschetta

A real show stopper! This flavorful dish is wonderful as a starter or a snack. Chef Brian recommends this as a passed horderve or presented beautifully as a centerpiece on any holiday buffet.

This recipe showcases the versatility of pumpkin, and we are lucky to have the Agroecology Farm on campus right off of Lake Wheeler road to provide us with some really fun heirloom varieties. Check out their website for more information!

This recipe looks a LOT more complicated than it is, so don’t be intimidated! The particular cut of the pumpkin doesn’t matter here, as long as they’re of a uniform size and shape to ensure it cooks evenly. Try to find a ‘pie’ pumpkin – they’re small and yield about the equivalent of one can of pumpkin puree. If you’re pressed for time, you can certainly use a can of pumpkin here. Quenelles? All you need are two spoons and this instructional blog. No pastry bag? If you’ve already got some zip-top bags in your kitchen, all you need to do is cut little triangles into the end of your ‘piping bag’ and it’s ready to use. 

Wild West Wedges with Cranberry Catsup

Sweetpotatoes and canned cranberry sauce are EVERYWHERE and AFFORDABLE right now. North Carolina is the TOP producer of sweetpotatoes in the United States, and the NC SweetPotato Commission has deliberately chosen to spell sweetpoato as ONE WORD to distinguish them from potatoes and yams. We could yammer on about sweetpotatoes all day, but we’ll just stop here and remind you to check out the Covington sweetpotato, developed right here at NC State and being used to do some amazing work around the world. The original recipe from Ocean Spray called for fresh jalapenos and whole cranberries, but we have adjusted it to be super easy for you even when fresh cranberries aren’t available. 

Cranberries are a great source of vitamin C and may help improve heart health. Learn more here!

Thanksgiving Bowl 

Leftovers, we’ve all got them. Chef Lesley has taught us how to turn them into something amazing with a little help from greens and grains. This recipe is extremely versatile and you can mix it up according to whatever you have on hand. Layer up your leftovers and impress your guests (and taste buds!) 



Looking for more recipes? Check out some of our other favorites: 

Creamed Corn Casserole

Chef Ricky’s Classic Creamed Corn Casserole makes a delicious side dish for all winter meals! This recipe freezes well, making it a great make-ahead option. 

Mashed Sweetpotatoes

Mash up North Carolina’s state vegetable for a delicious and nutritious side dish! Don’t rush this dish – you want the low heat to slowly turn these sweetpotatoes into a naturally sweet, soft mash.

French Cranberry & Apple Tart

A festive take on the classic French Apple Tart! Chef Lesley uses simple ingredients to maximum effect through good technique and elegant arrangement.

Rosemary Apple Crumbles

These beautiful crumbles are not too sweet, and can fit on the dinner table or with dessert. They also accommodate many dietary restrictions.


This blog was written with the help of NC State R&D Chef Lesley Schatz, Talley Student Union Executive Chef Brian Corcoran, and Director of Nutrition & Wellness Lauren Smith. Did you make one of these recipes? Let us know! Post your food photos and tag @ncstatedining.