How frustrating is it when you decide you want to cook something, look up the recipe and then realize that some of the ingredients there can only be found in some secluded temple in Tibet for the mere price of one of your lungs? Or worse, you realize you haven’t even heard of them. As far as aliments go, it’s difficult to incorporate them in a meal or your regular diet without having a starting point to go by. What does it taste like? If it’s a condiment, how strong is it? Can you use in combination with anything? What happens if I shove a tablespoon of it in my mouth and post it on YouTube? So many questions. We’re not here to answer them, though. We’re here to provide you with even more obscurity, by presenting 12 Vegetables That You Know Nothing About and offering a few pieces of knowledge about them.
If you think this vegetable looks familiar, that’s because it’s similar to dandelion. A very popular ingredient in Greek and Mexican dishes, purslane brings a great deal of benefits to health. It’s rich in Vitamins C and E, and fibers that are very good for stomach protection. As far as taste go, it’s very lemon-y and crunchy, many chefs often opting to include it to pesto sauces, sandwiches and salads.
2. Hubbard Squash
I know it doesn’t look too attractive. In fact, it looks like the ugly distant relative of pumpkins. But since we were all taught to judge a book by its cover, I’ll have you know that the beauty of a hubbard squash is inside. It provides a great deal of vitamins, fiber and potassium. The ideal ways to consume it are in stews or roasted, served with pasta and kale.
The name resembles celery because it has a taste that does strongly resemble celery, except it has a knobbier looking root. Among the beneficial substances you can find in a celeriac, we count magnesium, potassium and three kinds of vitamins. The best thing about this vegetable, though, is that it can be cooked in a variety of ways. You can add it to salads by peeling and grating it, or you can mash it just like you’d do with mashed potatoes.
4. Purple Sweet Potato
Potatoes, we trusted you. I can’t believe there are still sides of you we know nothing about. This sweet breed of potatoes has its origins in Okinawa, a small Japanese island. While on the outside, nothing gives away their differences, on the inside they’re rich in dark purple pigments, which contain cancer-fighting substances. They taste so sweet that they’re mostly used for deserts.
Let’s just agree from the start that “fiddleheads” is probably the cutest name you could give a vegetable. They’re relatively new and pretty pretentious, given the fact that you can only grow them during springtime. Having a grassy taste, they’re popular inclusions in Asian and French cuisine.
With an appearance that makes me think of a mutated cauliflower, this Italian vegetable actually is a relative of the cauliflower, having even a very similar taste. The most fascinating thing about romanesco has to be the unique pattern spreading all over its surface, known also as the mathematical Fibonacci.
7. Sea Beans
These veggies hold the title for the coolest set of aliases: Sea Pickles, Pickleweeds and – check this out – Sea Asparagus 5 and Salicornias5. They almost sound like secret commando fighters. If you choose to purchase some sea beans, you should know that the edible part of the herb is the small leaves that are barely visible, which are mostly used as condiments. Beware, though: they’re very salty, so you might want to boil them in water first.
8. Yardlong Beans
A very fitting name for a vegetable that can reach even up to two feet in length. These beans are a popular culinary choice in South Asia, in Mid-West being ingredients that you can find in Chinese Green Noodles and Chinese Red Noodles. Should you ever decide that you want to grow these strange vegetables, make note of the fact that the ideal harvest time is before the seeds begin growing.
9. Gai Lan
This kind of vegetable tastes very similarly to broccoli, thus its alias as the “Chinese broccoli.” The only differences are that gai lan tastes more bitterly, since it doesn’t host the average broccoli florets. You can either boil or stir-fry the green leaves and stalks.
A type of mustard green that’s been grown in Japan since the oldest time, mizuna is a necessary addition to your daily or regular menu if you wish to improve your immunity. It contains iron, Vitamin C and folate, as well as several antioxidants that can greatly reduce the risk of cancer. You’ll need to keep in mind when going to purchase mizuna to check if its leaves are green and crisp, and not withered, if you want to benefit from all of its effects.
In German, this translates to “cabbage turnip.” An interesting combo, isn’t it? Kohlrabi is a member of the turnip family, thus also being rich Vitamin C and fiber. The inside is protected by two layers that must carefully be peeled off before you attempt to consume it. Speaking of consuming, whether cooked or raw, it has an excellent taste, so don’t worry about it. The most common place you can find this vegetable in is Asian stores.
Also known as the “New Zealand yam” or “the veggie that split America apart.” I say this because, while extremely rare in North America, oca is the second most consumed vegetable in South America, after the famous potato. Given oca’s variety in colors, there is also a variety of flavors.
Some of the best discoveries, even in the culinary field, occurred from responsible experimenting. So, as long as you can find and afford these 12 Vegetables That You Know Nothing About, which also happen to be packed with nutrients and beneficial substances, you have nothing to lose if you start using them as ingredients in your normal meals.