Do you find yourself sticking to the same familiar veggies at the market because you don’t know what those strange looking vegetables are, or what you would ever do with them? Here are some suggestions and insights on how to make the most of your market or CSA’s bounty this summer. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new.
Celeriac (Celery Root)
Quite possibly the ugliest of all vegetables, this frog prince of a root is warty, hairy, and often misshapen. However, the cream-colored flesh has a subtle taste of celery and parsley with a hint of anise. Celeriac make an excellent alternative to potatoes and other starches.
Also known as swedes due to their origination in Sweden, this rough and gnarly root is a cross between a turnip and cabbage. Don’t be intimidated by their less-than beautiful appearance, just cut away the thick skin to enjoy the nutty and sweet interior.
These alien-looking vegetables are crunchy and starchy like jicama, but with a mildly sweet taste like cabbage. You can enjoy them raw or cooked, and the leaves can be cooked like kale or collards. Be sure to remove the thick outer green layer to reveal the crisp white inside.
Similar to carrots, but parsnips are cream colored, earthier, and wonderfully sweet. Sometimes the center core can be a bit fibrous, but softens when thinly sliced or roasted.
Whether all white, or with red or purple tops, turnips are often overlooked. These root vegetables are crunchy with a slightly sweet and bitter taste like a radish only denser. The greens are more bitter but a powerhouse of nutrients, toss the leaves in a salad or cook them down like collards.
What looks like a ginger root, but tastes like a nutty artichoke and potato mix? Sunchokes! Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, these knobby tubers don’t get the attention they deserve. Their versatility lends to delicious raw salads, roasted, or pureed into creamy soups. Be sure to clean them thoroughly before prepping, peeling is optional.
More than just a weed, these green leafy wonders are packed with nutrients. Offering a bitter, peppery kick similar to arugula, dandelion greens can be prepared raw or cooked. Be sure to balance their sharp taste with something sweet or creamy to more easily welcome them to your dinner plate.
These early summer snakey treasures are the above-ground stalk of a garlic plant and have a mild, fresh garlic flavor. Use them like scallions or grill them whole and serve with almost anything.