Pot roast is not just a winter dish; it's a meal for all seasons -- with all types of seasonings. The key to its year-round suitability and appeal is the use of seasonally appropriate fresh ingredients to complement the roast's long, slow, sit-back-and-relax stove-top cooking.

In summer, pot roast goes "lite," flavored with lemon and garden-fresh basil, plus a last minute addition of zucchini. In fall, it's the sweet, spicy zing that comes from cranberries, cinnamon and horseradish. Come winter it's time for the classic thyme-scented version of the pot boiler, complete with turnips and potatoes. In spring, a tomato-based cooking stock becomes the basis for a gravy studded with tender-crisp vegetables.

So, now, whenever you crave a tasty, comforting pot roast dinner, just buy a roast, pull out the pot and check the calendar to select the appropriate recipe.

LEMON BASIL SUMMER POT ROAST (6 servings)

This recipe, which includes fresh basil and zucchini, was clipped some time ago from a small community newspaper, name unremembered, and the imaginative author, name unknown, cannot be credited.

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 boneless beef rump, chuck, or round roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup water

2 onions, quartered

1 strip lemon peel (about 1 1/2 inches long)

5 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium zucchini

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a small bowl, make a paste by combining garlic with 1 tablespoon basil, salt and pepper. Rub the surface of the roast with the mixture.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook slowly until browned on all sides, turning with the aid of wooden spoons or spatulas. Pour off drippings. Add water, onions and lemon peel. Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 2 hours; by then the meat should be quite tender. Add carrots. Cover and continue cooking 30 minutes.

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 1-inch pieces. Add zucchini to pot. Cover and continue cooking 7 to 10 minutes until zucchini is just tender. Remove roast, carrots and zucchini to a warm platter.

Strain cooking liquid; skim off and discard fat. Measure 2 cups cooking liquid and return to pan. Combine cornstarch, lemon juice, and remaining 1 tablespoon basil. Stir into cooking liquid and bring to boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve pot roast and vegetables with the gravy.

Per serving: 667 calories, 82 gm protein, 13 gm carbohydrates, 30 gm fat, 11 gm saturated fat, 237 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium.

SPICED CRANBERRY FALL POT ROAST (8 servings)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease

1 boneless beef rump, chuck, or round roast (about 4 pounds)

Flour, about equal to the amount of fat that drips off the meat

1/2 pound cranberries

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 large onion, quartered

2 cinnamon sticks (each about 3 inches long), broken

1/2 cup red wine

1 1/2 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons grated horseradish

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook slowly until browned on all sides, turning with the aid of wooden spoons or spatulas. Remove from heat. Pour off drippings into a bowl and combine with an equal amount of flour. Reserve.

In a saucepan, combine cranberries, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in onion, cinnamon sticks, red wine, beef broth and horseradish. Pour over roast. Cover tightly and cook over low-medium heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until meat is quite tender.

Strain cooking liquid, combining the resulting liquid with the reserved fat and flour mixture. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the gravy thickens. Serve pot roast with the gravy.

Per serving: 672 calories, 70 gm protein, 32 gm carbohydrates, 27 gm fat, 10 gm saturated fat, 203 mg cholesterol, 346 mg sodium.

Adapted from "Spicy New England Pot Roast" served at The Churchill House Inn in Brandon., Vt., from "The Best Recipes from New England Inns" (Yankee Books, 1984, $17.95) CLASSIC YANKEE WINTER POT ROAST (8 servings)

1 boneless beef rump, chuck, or round roast (about 4 pounds)

Flour, enough to coat the roast, about 1/4 cup

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, stuck with 2 cloves

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme

1 cup water

8 small carrots

12 small white onions

2 turnips, quartered

Additional flour and butter for beurre manie'

8 boiled potatoes, with or without their jackets

Rub the roast with flour. In a Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat slowly on all sides, turning with the aid of wooden spoons or spatulas. Add onion, bay leaf, pepper, salt, thyme and water. Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove clove-studded onion. Add carrots, small onions and turnips. Cover again and continue cooking until the meat is quite tender and the vegetables are cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes. If the vegetables cook too quickly, transfer them to a warm dish and keep warm.

When the roast is finished, remove it to a warmed platter and keep warm. Strain cooking liquid; skim off and discard fat. Return liquid to pan and thicken with beurre manie (small balls of equal amounts of butter and flour kneaded together. A good rule of thumb: 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour kneaded together thicken 1 cup thin liquid.) Taste for seasoning. Serve pot roast and vegetables, including the potatoes, with the gravy.

Per serving: 763 calories, 72 gm protein, 29 gm carbohydrates, 39 gm fat, 15 gm saturated fat, 226 mg cholesterol, 677 mg sodium.

Adapted from "James Beard's American Cookery" (Little, Brown, and Company, 1972) SPRING POT ROAST PRIMAVERA (10 servings)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 boneless beef rump, chuck, or round roast (about 4 pounds)

2 whole carrots, plus 1/3 cup cubed carrots, steamed to tender-crisp stage

2 celery stalks, plus, 1/2 cup chopped celery, steamed to tender-crisp stage

1 large onion, quartered

1 pound tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup flour

3 cups water

1/3 cup cooked peas

1/2 cup green beans cut in bite-size pieces, steamed to tender-crisp stage

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add roast, whole carrots, celery stalks and onion. Cook slowly until meat is browned on all sides, turning with the aid of wooden spoons or spatulas. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and water. Bring to boil. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 3 hours, until meat is quite tender.

Remove roast to a warm platter; keep warm. Strain cooking liquid, discarding vegetables. Skim fat off liquid, returning 1/4 cup fat to Dutch oven. Stir flour into fat and add back the cooking liquid. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Adjust seasonings. Add cubed carrots, celery, peas and beans. Serve pot roast with gravy.

Per serving: 542 calories, 57 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrates, 30 gm fat, 9 gm saturated fat, 162 mg cholesterol, 579 mg sodium.

Adapted from "Yankee Pot Roast" served at Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Mass., from "The Best Recipes From New England Inns" (Yankee Books, 1984. $17.95)

Ellen Ficklen is a Washington-based freelance writer and editor.