HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Best 'sleeper' vegies I'm missing out on?

  • 153
  • Share

I am in a vegie rut.
I have zero experience using any of the more 'exotic/ethnic' veg I always never buy b/c I don't know what they taste like nor their best uses.
I'm pretty much a 'meat and potatoes' cook when it comes to the veg I use every day. Tomato/onions/carrots etc. 'Western veg'.
I'd like to try some of these different veg. Can you all point me in some new veg usage directions? Can you put up a photo and tell me in what dish it is most used?
Forget recommending 'durian' LOL
Why don't grocery stores put 'how to use' signs/photos with the more 'esoteric' fruits/veg? Bet they'd sell more. Or have a small display where we can go find a photo and description on a touch screen in the store.
Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Around the holidays a few very patient CH's enlightened this produce happy gal with a dish I had never had before: the rutabaga, roasted. So delicious I've made it a number of times since.

    Simple preparation, the oven does most of the work:
    http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/ba...

    I hope you'll try it!

    14 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      Okra with tomatoes is one of our favorites. Dice and Sautee an onion, add a bag of frozen okra and a can of diced tomatoes. Simmer for
      20 minutes. Season and serve.

      1. re: tzurriz

        That sounds really good, thanks for the inspiration!

        1. re: tzurriz

          Many people have texture issues with okra. I don't know if your recipe reduces the associated slime, but my hands down favorite way to prepare okra is to dip the trimmed pods in a flour-water batter and deep fry them. Almost as good is to quarter the trimmed pods vertically and fry quickly in a little olive oil. Other seasonings can be added--garlic, mustard seeds, whatever.

          1. re: sr44

            the acid in the tomato dissolves the slime.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Thanks! I'll try it. Good to know about the acid. It suggests possible dipping sauces.

              And by the way, never slice okra in the food processor.

              1. re: sunshine842

                Is that what happens?

                I started cooking with tomato in my okra a couple of years ago and noticed that the okra was no longer slimy. I wasn't sure what was doing it, but the okra dishes seemed just a thousand times better when they had tomato in them. :)

                1. re: LMAshton

                  it won't eliminate it completely, but it does cut down on it.

                  In gumbo, you WANT the slime -- gumbo is a variation on the Creole name for the vegetable: gomba.

                  Okra slime is what makes gumbo thick and unctuous.

          2. re: HillJ

            WE had never eaten rutabaga until we had it in England at a Carvery that put vegetables out for self-service along with the roast beef. It quickly became one of our favorite vegetables. It is so popular in England (called "Swede") that it is sold in plastic bags, frozen and peeled and cut into cubes. I like it boiled and mashed with butter.

            1. re: Querencia

              I need to expand my rutabaga horizons! I'm so gone on the roasted I really haven't done much else with them.

              1. re: HillJ

                Amazing steamed, pureed with butter, cream, and salt, and then topped with crisply fried shallot strings.

                1. re: sandylc

                  Oh that does sound very good!

              2. re: Querencia

                Finnish rutabaga pudding is delicious. http://files.meetup.com/37994/Lanttu%...

              3. re: HillJ

                Every Thanksgiving my uncle makes enough mashed rutabaga to feed an entire village. He boils the rutabagas, then adds caramelized onions and butter. Divine.

                1. re: rachael_emily

                  Another variation that sounds equally tasty, thanks!

              4. There are many sites related to using CSA vegetables if you google.
                I like all root veggies roasted, any kind of turnip, beets, rutabaga.

                All greens are good sautéed with garlic

                1. How do you feel about eggplant? That is one of my favorite vegetables, so versatile. Especially in the summer when you can get fresh and local.

                  I like it in thai or Chinese dishes. Or you can go Mediterranean. Here are a couple of examples:

                  http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaisnac...

                  http://thehungrygoddess.com/2012/03/l...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tcamp

                    yep, lovelovelove eggplant and guess what? you don't HAVE to fry it in oil to cook it...just lightly coat with some olive oil and BAKE it (I always add garlic and NEVER remove the skin...so much fiber and nutrients in that purple skin!)...OR you could just roast entire eggplant in the oven I've seen that done too!

                    1. re: Val

                      I slice it (usually top-to-bottom), brush the slices with olive oil, and grill. Yum.

                  2. Not sure if you would consider Bok choy as a "new to me" veg, but it's great quickly sauteed in a stir-fry. Also, if you get baby bok choy, cut in half and grilled is wonderful!

                    Try a few sorrel leaves mixed into your salad. It has a nice lemony-peppery "zing".

                    Leeks are great sauteed, in a soup, such as potato-leek soup.

                    http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2008/04/07/...

                    1. Seriously? You want your grocery store to hand hold you through vegetable prep, selection and uses? That's kinda why those weird things like cookbooks, innumerable cooking magazines and web sites with veggie recipes exist. There are literally tens of thousands of places on the internet, in bookstores and in libraries that offer in depth information about everything you asked for. I'd rather pay a competitive price for my fresh produce than pay for the added cost of providing "touch screen" iPads /notebooks and glossy photos with cooking advice. Some upscale places do offer such things plus cooking classes and menu ideas. You can go to those places or do your homework at home.
                      I don't want Jewel or a super Walmarts or Costcos advice on how to cook my vegetables. That I can do on my own. I just want them to sell me good quality vegetables at a reasonable price. That's not to say it is wrong for a store to offer such options, places like Whole Foods and many other places do, but to expect it...?
                      Your best bet is to avail yourself of the resources available to any net savvy individual or take a trip to your library if the cost of buying cooking magazines and books is too dear.
                      If you want to branch out from "tomatoes, onions, carrots" (I don't know what you mean by "etc.") than look into the possibility of researching a fresh vegetable before you go to the store.
                      What you consider "exotic" or "ethnic" is just confusing. Are eggplants, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, turnips, potatoes, spinach, kale, celery root, radicchio, chard, asparagus, fennel considered exotic? Not where I live. Sun chokes, parsnips, zucchini blossoms, some wild mushrooms, cardoons and rutabagas may require some pre-shopping thought but they, "exotic" or otherwise, are basically (if not served raw) cooked by roasting, braising, sautéing, frying or deep frying, coated in batter, grilling, steaming or boiling. Served with a sauce or not. Roasted with olive oil or some other fat and seasoned and maybe spritzed with lemon or other citrus or vinegar.

                      20 Replies
                      1. re: KateBChi

                        I agree about preferring competitive prices but I get what puffin is saying. Sometimes at the Asian megamart, I find myself standing in front of some item I've never used before (whole turmeric, most recently) and using my iphone to google what to do with it. Which creates a traffic jam. I guess the last century solution was tear-off recipe cards in front of the more esoteric vegetables.

                        1. re: tcamp

                          I do this all the time, just step to the side.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            Or visually take in what you see at the market then go home and research the veggie. If it's something you might want to explore, go back and buy it. No blocking the isles. But what do you consider exotic? Everyone has their own interpretation.

                            That said, I've been growing a garden for the last five years. Every year, I add one or two new veggies either unfamiliar to me or hard for me to obtain locally. Broccoli Rabe, romanesco, kohlrabi, bok choy, Chinese long beans, Brussels sprouts, spinach, acorn & butternut squashes are things I didn't grow up with but were interested in.

                            I also have planted things I knew what do with like okra, assorted lettuces like romaine, buttercrunch, and mizuna (grew up on iceberg), assorted winter greens, summer squashes, assorted hot & sweet peppers, assorted tomatoes, cukes and melons, etc. But, through it all, I just looked into cook books and online at different cultures and how they prepare these same veggies (it helps to be culinarily openminded.)

                            Also keep in mind that certain plants can be eaten pretty much in it's entirety. For example, the leaves from broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi can be eaten as well as the stalk or bulb. Also, similar veggies like Chinese long beans and green beans can be prepared the same way. Many people only prepare vegetables a couple of ways but think outside the box: steamed, fried, baked, roasted, grilled, smoked or seasoned one of 100 ways.

                            The lowly tomato can be prepared all of those ways, as can potatoes, carrots, celery, corn and most "Western vegetables". Research is the best way to learn something.

                          2. re: tcamp

                            Whereas I'll just buy the random vegetable/fruit and figure out what to do with it at home later. Yes, I do this fairly frequently.

                            1. re: LMAshton

                              I do this with veggies and all out her sorts of things in the store. It's a good way to learn in the kitchen.

                              1. re: LMAshton

                                I've often been tempted to do that, but then I'm not sure how much to buy and what other things I might need for a recipe I might find. So then I decide to hold off buying it until the following week, by which time I usually have forgotten or they don't have it anymore. I'll have to try living on the edge and just buying it when I see it like you do.

                                1. re: AmyH

                                  What makes it easier for me is that I live in Asia and tend to have a fair number of Asian-type ingredients in my cupboards already (suitable for cooking Sri Lankan, Indian, Thai, Malaysian, Chinese...), and I cook predominantly Asian sorts of foods. And if I'm really stuck, the husband (Sri Lankan) usually has suggestions, some of which actually end up being really good despite the fact that he never cooks.

                                2. re: LMAshton

                                  I use that method more often than the "on the spot research method" too. Fun!

                              2. re: KateBChi

                                Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, goes through a wide range of vegetables alphabetically, including how to select the best specimens, and some recipes for each one. It's just one of many encyclopedic cookbooks covering both conventional and "exotic" produce.

                                I never tried kohlrabi until recently, and like it a lot. Tastes like an apple-y broccoli stalk.

                                Go to ethnic restaurants that offer buffets, and when you taste something you like but can't identify, ask them what it is and how it is prepared.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  That's one of my most used cookbooks, and I'm not even vegetarian.

                                  1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                    Me either. I love the stir-fried roasted eggplant so much that I know it is page 268! I take liberties depending on what Asian condiments I have on hand but it's always triffic.

                                  2. re: greygarious

                                    Deborah Madison also has a new-ish cookbook out called Vegetable Literacy. She covers basically everything. I also love the Elizabeth Schneider cookbooks on unusual fruits and vegetables. I do love vegetarian cooking for everyone. It's very comprehensive with lots of interesting recipes.

                                    1. re: Madrid

                                      I love Elizabeth Schneider! I only have her vegetable book. It is one of my most valuable references. I always learn something new and her "chef" suggestions have lead to some pretty amazing dishes!

                                      Edit: Her Veg book was one of the most used references in the produce dept. of an organic market I worked at. Within months of leaving that job I realized that I*had*to*have my own copy (which was rather pricey). Have never regretted that purchase!

                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        I think you'd like her first book as well, Unusual fruits and vegetables.

                                        1. re: Madrid

                                          I saw on an old post that you have BA's from the 80's. My mom just threw away a recipe by accident and needs it for tomorrow. It's a crab and avocado salad from May of 1980. It would be great if you could help. Thank you :)

                                  3. re: KateBChi

                                    Many of the grocery stores around here have provided this kind of information, and not just the frou-frou ones. Not the super-cheap places, but a lot of the mid-level chains do or did. Often it was a binder of laminated pages in one spot in the produce section, sometimes just bits of information included on the price sign, sometimes tear-away recipes you could take home.

                                    I don't know if they still do in the internet era, but it was definitely a thing that was done.

                                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                                      I totally forgot about the laminated binder -- I'll have to look to see if it still exists in my local store.

                                      I used that binder a lot.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        I think there is one at my Kroger. I've never looked through it, but I will next time I'm in to see if that's what it is.

                                    2. re: KateBChi

                                      Back in the dark ages before the internet there was a show on PBS called the Victory Garden that always ended with a recipe using the produce featured on the show. I splurged and bought a paperback copy of the Victory Garden Cookbook and it is still on my cookbook shelf with a scotch tape binding. It lists vegetables alphabetically with growing, marketing and cooking tips. There are also a few recipes featuring the vegetables in the chapter. Priceless.

                                      1. re: Berheenia

                                        I loved that show! I always just wanted to hug Miriam -- she just looks like that sort of person.

                                    3. Varying your vegetables is always fun but another option is to vary the way that you cook your veg:
                                      Mashed cauliflower, rutabaga or eggplant
                                      Stuffed tomatoes
                                      Creamed kale, cabbage, leeks
                                      Sweet potato salad
                                      Zucchini gratin or butternut squash gratin
                                      A great resource would be the joy of cooking.
                                      Good luck!

                                      1. I've always been attracted to different fruits and veggies.

                                        In the pre-smartphone, pre-internet days, there was usually a rounder of small cards set up by the produce companies that gave idea of what to do with the item -- I still see the rounders, but by now have played with so many things that there aren't many that are still strangers.

                                        If you see something that looks tasty (the swiss chard at my grocery looked **gorgeous** this week -- and good produce is good produce -- vibrant colors, crisp leaves or outer layers -- it's not hard to pick out what looks healthy and fresh) -- then buy a package.

                                        Take it home -- look it up in your cookbooks and on the 'net (you can do some of this in the store with a smartphone, if you have one).

                                        Try it....and enjoy!

                                        1. Celery root, you can prepare it many different ways so lots of room to explore

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            I think I've used celery root about 2 times. What do you like to do with it?

                                            1. re: tcamp

                                              cubed and roasted with other root vegetables.

                                              boiled and mashed with potatoes.

                                              grated and mixed with mayo and lemon for a nice changeup on coleslaw.

                                              added to soups and stews.

                                              LOVE celery root.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                Cubed and braised

                                                Remoulade

                                                Puree

                                                Roasted - last month someone posted a link for a whole roasted celery root which is served with a spoon

                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  (I'm assuming you know, but others may not, that remoulade is the French word for the coleslaw riff)

                                              2. re: tcamp

                                                Celeriac and apple salad is a classic. Here's one from Ottolenghi:

                                                http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...

                                            2. Eggplant is pretty versatile. I just made baba ganouj. Eating it right now....

                                               
                                              1. One of my favs is roasted cauliflower, really roasted, with evoo s&p, to a brown goodness. Same for brussel sprouts and carrots. Lately, I've been making kale chips in the oven, wow!

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: treb

                                                  Treb, I totally agree with you concerning really roased cauliflower. My daughter and I couldn't stop eating it the first time we tried it, and we ended up eating the whole thing in one evening. It is delicious!

                                                  1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                    and it's nice to finally find *something* that you can snarf down with no guilt!

                                                  2. re: treb

                                                    +3000 on the roasted cauliflower. I do the head whole (minus the bottom stem and leaves). I also do mine completely plain (no oil, seasoning, etc.) until it comes out. That way, the outside is brown and kind of crunchy and the inside is soft. Season it however you want when it comes out.

                                                    Completely amazing!!!!!

                                                    (equally amazing is roasted red cabbage - cut into 1" thick steaks and roast)

                                                    1. re: treb

                                                      My favourite roast cauliflower recipes involves garlic, anchovies, bread crumbs and parmesan. Mmmm.....

                                                    2. First of, Durian's a fruit.

                                                      Secondly, the interwebs and cookbooks are your friend.

                                                      Third, these are some awesome veggies to cook with:
                                                      beans (any type), cauliflower, eggplant, snow peas, fennel, brussels sprouts, green asparagus, etc. etc.

                                                      Now go and be adventurous.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                        "First" if you had bothered to read my post you would have noticed I did use the word "fruit".
                                                        Second I was referring to the more far-out veg and fruits that have only in the last few years become common in large supermarkets.
                                                        I have been cooking with 'snow-peas'/fennel/brussel sprouts/asparagus/bok choy etc etc probably longer than who have lived.
                                                        Have a mint and chill for goodness sake.

                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                          Re: far-out produce for me include orange cauliflower, grape-flavoured apples, donut-shaped peaches, baby kiwis, kumatos and romanesco. In the kitchen, I think I'd treat them the same as their more common relatives.

                                                          Might be easier if you named the veg you consider far-out. I can't think of any veg I wouldn't know how to prepare (correction: I remembered that I don't know how to prepare salsify), but I wouldn't know how to open some imported-to-Canada/imported-to-USA fruit. What is far-out for you might be ordinary for another Chowhound.

                                                          1. re: prima

                                                            Since first discovering Romanesco two Thanksgivings ago, and bringing home the last head, every single person that has tried it has loved it. In season, a few farm stands out on the North Fork of Long Island have some, but I have been able to buy it by the case from a farmer acquaintance. I probably went through at least fifty heads for family and friends and all can't wait for next season. Delicious and beautiful!

                                                          2. re: Puffin3

                                                            "I have been cooking with 'snow-peas'/fennel/brussel sprouts/asparagus/bok choy etc etc probably longer than who have lived."
                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                            And THAT would have been helpful to know in your original post.

                                                        2. How about Broccoli Rabe? It's got a really nice bite to it. I love to chop it a bit and sautee with garlic onions and olive oil until just tender crisp.

                                                          Another favorite is Rutabaga (also known here as yellow turnip). It's a big round root vegetable, sometimes it's waxed, sometimes it is wrapped in plastic. Peel and dice and cook like mashed potato with lots of butter and a dash of ground nutmeg. It's got a nice sweet, nutty flavor that I love.

                                                          Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Get some sprouts, wash, cut off the root end, slice in half, toss with some olive oil salt and pepper, put on a sheet pan in a single layer, roast in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes until just browning a bit.

                                                          Artichokes will be in season very soon. If you have a pressure cooker, cut off the very top of the artichoke and a bit off the bottom of the stem. Put in the pressure cooker and cook at full pressure for 20 minutes, quick release under cold water. Then make a dipping sauce for the leaves, stem and heart. I like garlic butter, or a remoulade sauce. Pull leaves off and dip the bottom ends in the sauce, squeeze between your teeth to pull the meat off. When you are done, scoop the choke out of the heart and dip the heart too. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cook in a few inches of water for 45 minutes or so, until you can easily pull a leaf off.

                                                          Do you like licorice flavor things? Try getting a bulb of fresh Fennel. Cut off the tough dark green stems and the fronds, take the bulb and cut out the core in the middle. Chop in bite sized pieces and add to salads. It's especially good with citrusy dressings made with orange juice and such. You can also roast fennel, which will make the flavor change substantially into a more mild flavor without the strong licorice aspect.

                                                          German style Red Cabbage is great this time of year. Look up a recipe on line there are plenty of choices.

                                                          Swiss Chard and White Beans, a classic Italian meal. Again, Google that for recipes, there are tons of options.

                                                          1. The best recommendation I can give you is one I've followed myself: Barbara Kafka's outstanding volume "Vegetable Love". Not only does it have amazing recipes, but there's also a section in the back that gives detailed instructions for choosing, preparing, and cooking every veg possible! Including microwaving, which is outstanding for some of them. Plunge in and enjoy -- you're to be commended for striking out in a different direction.

                                                            1. My recent' "sleeper" veggie is kohlrabi. I've been oven roasting it and amazingly, it comes out of the oven still fairly crisp, like an apple or jicama. It's really cool.
                                                              I use miso paste, maple syrup, cider vinegar, s&p.

                                                              I'm still trying to figure out the best veggie to pair with the kohlrabi for roasting.

                                                              11 Replies
                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                I like to use it in place of potatoes in a breakfast hash. Can't tell the difference!

                                                                1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                  Hash it a great idea, thanks!

                                                                  1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                    Around here, kohlrabi costs around $3 a pound, 4x the price of potatoes. Unless there's a major nutritional or convenience difference in favor of the more expensive ingredient, I wouldn't do "tastes just like" subbing.

                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                      In my case, I was getting them for free from work, and there was a nutritional factor. But that's a very valid point.

                                                                      1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                        Interesting workplace perk! I usually have given away the kohlrabi I get in my summer farm share to a friend who loves them but will try the breakfast hash idea.

                                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                                          Kohlrabi is great. Raw, it's sweet and crunchy

                                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                                            I work for a produce company. :) (Basically a farm-share alternative that sources from multiple farms to give more variety and less risk.)

                                                                            1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                              I would like to apply to be your new best friend......:)!!

                                                                              1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                Cool, sounds interesting!

                                                                      2. re: monavano

                                                                        Kohlrabi is really nice roasted with rutabaga

                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          I used to love the kohlrabi I got in Canada. Loved. One day, I found kohlrabi at the grocery store in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Bought it, brought it home. It ended up being so tough and woody that it was nearly inedible. I tried a few more, but they were all the same. I don't know what they do to the poor kohlrabi, but they were so terrible. :(

                                                                        2. Jerusulam Artichokes
                                                                          Brussels Sprouts
                                                                          Crookneck Squash

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                            My brother grows Jerusalem Artichokes at his place in Tennessee -- "sunchokes", as he prefers to call them, the "vegetable of the future" in his words. He shipped me a mess of them. I found that I really like them.

                                                                            1. re: jmckee

                                                                              Nodules from the roots of sunflowers. Tasty but gassy

                                                                              1. re: jmckee

                                                                                they are so easy to grow - but invasive. They have a really nice flavor though I like them in soups/stews or mashed.

                                                                            2. I'd recommend a recent copy of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook. That's my reference when I don't want to look online, and many vegetables are covered, including recipes for simple preparations as well as more involved recipes.
                                                                              Re: specific veg usage directions:
                                                                              For eggplant, I really like imam bayildi (which comes up if you search the board).
                                                                              For kale, I alternate between cooking it with Italian sausage or chorizo, and with peanut butter/ginger/garlic for a West African approach (also can be found on this site).
                                                                              I roast any root veg (parsnips, beets, radishes, sweet potatoes, etc).
                                                                              I saute/stir-fry most greens, whether they're Asian, Mediterranean, Western, whatever, then drizzle with oil and vinegar. Sometimes I add a bit of sesame oil or soy sauce.
                                                                              I braise cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, etc in butter, water, vinegar and herbs.
                                                                              Which vegetables did you want to try?

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: prima

                                                                                Joy of Cooking also has an extensive vegetable section.

                                                                              2. The Cooks Thesaurus at this link http://www.foodsubs.com/FGVegetables....
                                                                                is another good online source for identifiying those mystery veggies you see at the market -- photos, descriptions and substitutions. I like your idea of having a touch screen in the produce department, but expect there are practical barriers for that in an area that routinely gets water-sprayed.

                                                                                You might also set a household "Research & Development" R&D budget of a few dollars per week/month. Like a business that knows not every R&D project will be successful, you give yourself permission to buy/try and know that it's OK to toss if something really is not to your taste.

                                                                                1. On the topic of "how to use" info at the produce section:

                                                                                  This is not at all an unreasonable idea. Meat departments frequently have stickers on packaged items advising "great for stir fry" an so forth. Every cook has a learning curb and helping them get an idea of the best use of an item is a service and will ultimately increase sales.

                                                                                  Many producers do send recipe and processing tips with produce. The problem is that most stores don't have a good method to display the cards. The "rain machines" limit what can be placed by those items. Display restrictions from corporate offices often limit signage to a very specific type.

                                                                                  Ask the produce people. There is a good chance they have loads of material in back. At the very least they have their manuals detailing proper handling and use.

                                                                                  You'll have better luck at a Whole Foods or similar store. Many of the employees work there because it matches their interests and life style so they tend to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about sharing tips and recipe ideas.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                                                    The Whole Foods website also includes many recipes for produce.

                                                                                  2. jicama

                                                                                    1. At the grocery store that I frequent, they have a rack of cards with recipes for the more unusual veggies and fruits that are free for the taking. They are in the produce section, but not very prominently displayed - think like a small rotating metal rack near one of the non-refrigerated displays. I shopped there for years before I even noticed it, so it is possible one of your groceries have the same thing.

                                                                                      1. Cardoons. I adore them, when I can find a greengrocer who sells them.

                                                                                        1. Artichoke hearts and bottoms. Buy them frozen and use them all the ways Italian and Maghrebi cooks do. Although keeping a can or two on hand gives you a ready-to-use add-in to upgrade salads.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                            trader joe's often has frozen artichoke hearts so i stock up when they do.

                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                              I wish TJ's still had the artichoke-filled tortelli. That plus the frozen artichoke hearts and some other stuff used to make the BEST pasta salad.

                                                                                          2. Hearts of palm. I dream of fresh hearts of palm, but regularly add the canned ones to salads.

                                                                                            1. I love okra. One of my favourite ways to cook it is to sautee the whole pods, and season with salt and fresh lemon juice. Also good stewed with tomatoes.

                                                                                              Eggplant - you can roast it, fry it, stew it. I like it stewed with tomatoes and some herbs, or as a dip. I use the long, skinny Asian ones, which don't need to be seeded and are easily sliced.

                                                                                              Beets - grated raw in salad with lemon juice and olive oil, roasted with butter, roasted and made into a salad with feta or blue cheese, onion, walnuts, and vinagrette, pickled.

                                                                                              Fennel - shaved in salads, or braised with chicken stock, white wine and onions.

                                                                                              Check out an Asian grocery for a wide variety of leafy greens. Stir fry them with garlic, use them in soups, blanch them and serve with a bit of lemon juice, or vinegar, or chill them after and serve with some Japanese roasted sesame dressing.

                                                                                              Edamame (young soy beans) can be found shelled in the frozen section. You can use them much as you would peas, and they make a nice addition to steamed rice (just mix in before steaming). Whole pods can be boiled for about 5-6 minutes, cooled, sprinkled with salt and eaten as a snack (a popular Japanese bar snack).

                                                                                              Winter squash or pumpkin - bake it and mash it, make a pureed soup out of it, stir fry it, grate it and make patties out of it (like potato pancakes), braise it with soy and sake.

                                                                                              Daikon (aka Chinese radish) is very good stewed with meat. The cooking softens the texture and mellows the flavour, but it still has a bitterness that goes well with meaty foods - beef and pork work well, particularly pork belly.

                                                                                              The Asian melons (bitter melon, luffa, silk melon etc) can be an interesting change. I love stirfried bitter melon with salted duck egg, but it is a bit of an acquired taste. Luffa is the same vegetable as produces the bath scrubbies - the immature version is edible. It needs to be peeled, and when steamed it has a soft texture and earthy taste.

                                                                                              Jicama makes a lovely salad - I dress it with lime juice, a bit of chili powder and salt.

                                                                                              If you're browing the Asian section, note that taro and fresh bamboo shoots need to be cooked before they are eaten to break down certain compounds that cause irritation.

                                                                                              1. My motto is if it's a vegetable I haven't seen before I'll try it.

                                                                                                You could start out gradually, with parsnips (carrots turned up to 11), celeriac (the taste of celery without those icky strings) then go on to turnips/rutabagas, cauliflower, kale, chard and end up with pea shoots, bok choy and mustard greens.

                                                                                                One person's "ethnic" is another's everyday food: I ran into a fellow shopper in an Indian grocery once who didn't realize that okra was popular in the US South!

                                                                                                1. Experiment. See something at the market. Google it for info, images and recipes. Take a chance and roll the dice

                                                                                                  1. radicchio. Most people think of this as a salad veg,
                                                                                                    which it is for sure. But, sliced, sautéed in olive oil with some chopped raw garlic, finished off with a little nice balsamic vinegar, and maybe a tad of lemon juice, steamed down a bit with cover on: you've got one heck of a grown ups vegetable that goes with almost any meat/fish or chicken.

                                                                                                    Similar process with sliced in half endive, but the color is spectacular with the radicchio.

                                                                                                    1. I had amazing cauliflower "la plancha", with crispy garlic and salsa verde at a Tapas restaurant in Utah last weekend.

                                                                                                      1. I love pea sprouts! They can be eaten raw in a salad or quickly sauteed with garlic. Easy to grow and yummy to eat. Two weeks from planting to plating.

                                                                                                         
                                                                                                         
                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                          I never thought to cook these!

                                                                                                          1. re: Siegal

                                                                                                            If you see them at your grocer, do try a bunch. They overcook in a flash so be careful. If you're growing peas, just snip a few and try it. They have a wonderful flavor. I snip them and they grow back for a second batch of veggies, although less robust. It's still 2 for 1!

                                                                                                            1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                              Growing them from....what, exactly? Don't suppose I can repurpose the split peas in my cupboard....

                                                                                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                I use "super sugar snap" seeds, but primarily for the peas,not the shoots. In case you are not kidding, dried split peas probably wouldn't be viable.

                                                                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                  If you can get bulk whole dried peas, then soak those and they should sprout. That's the cheapest route. If not, give the split peas a try. If you do a search, lot of people sprout them successfully. Just make sure they're not too old.

                                                                                                                  "When peas are split it is usually neatly on a fault line between the cotyledons (future first leaves), but the radicle (future single root) tends to adhere to one half or the other. That's the part that gets messy and results in roughly half of the split peas able to soak up water but not sprout while the luckier halves with attached radicles can sprout--"

                                                                                                                  http://www.rawfoodsupport.com/read.ph...

                                                                                                                  1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                    Interesting! But are those the pea shoots we were talking about, or something more like "bean sprouts"? Aren't split peas some kind of "field pea" instead of a "garden pea"?

                                                                                                                    ETA looks like usually snow peas, but it can be ANY pea variety.

                                                                                                                    http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetab...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                      That's a good link, Shrinkrap.

                                                                                                                      The pea shoots I grew were from "Alaska peas". I just bought a pound of them which was about 4 cups of dried peas. They were sold for consumption but every single one of them germinated.

                                                                                                                      1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                        Nice! So you can buy dried peas for consumption, and they are labled by variety? Is that in a grocery store?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                          It was in a "natural foods" store that had a lot of bulk items. They were labeled "Alaska peas" but that was the only variety they had. I don't think there is anything particularly special about them.

                                                                                                                          This website has a pound of whole peas for only $3.50
                                                                                                                          http://www.bulkfoods.com/dried-peas/4...

                                                                                                                          1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                            Thanks!

                                                                                                                            But I MUST have my sugar snaps in the spring (they overwinter here), and Suger Snap, Super, Sugar Snap, and maybe Sugar Ann do best for me. The pea shoots are just a bonus for me, and are also available at the local Asian market.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                        For sprouts, you can sprout a huge variety of peas, beans and other seeds - mung beans, I think, make the classic sprouts, but there's a veggie buffet near my place that has about a dozen different varieties.

                                                                                                                        I've also had what was called "pea shoots" which were the immature leaves of snow pea/snap pea plants, before the peas grew. These are a tender and very flavourful leafy green, which is good steamed.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                          Yes; I believe we are talking about the shoots, not the sprouts. I'm trying to link a picture of my sugar snaps from last year....can't seem to make it work....oh well...it's with my photos.

                                                                                                            2. I highly recommend the book "Vegetables Every Day" by Jack Bishop. It covers common and less common vegetables alphabetically, talks about buying, storing and prepping them, and has very good uncomplicated recipes where the vegetable shines through. I use it all the time. It's not huge, so I suppose you could carry it with you to the grocery to look up the vegetables you find.

                                                                                                              http://www.amazon.com/Vegetables-Ever...

                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                These are the types of veg/fruit I'm referring to. They have only started showing up where I shop in the last couple of years:
                                                                                                                cassava/eddoe/makhan/marauta root/cherimoyes/kiwano/kaki/green papaya/bannana flower/bitter cucumber/buddha's hand/black radish/bitter melon/balsan pears/prickly chayote/salsify/cranberry beans/taros. I could probably list hundreds more. There is such an array of them it's hard to know were to start hence my thread.

                                                                                                                1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                  But listing what you just did in your original post would have been helpful for the rest of us to know in which direction you wanted the thread to go.

                                                                                                                  Hopefully those with familiarity of vegetables such as what you listed can now help you. But as others have said - perhaps the best way to go is to buy a vegetable and come home to research it and see how you want to cook it.

                                                                                                                  OR do the reverse - take a pad and pen to your local market and write down the names of unfamiliar-to-you vegetables. Come home and look them up and see what sounds interesting to you in terms of flavors, preparation, etc.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                    Buddha's Hand, okay..I have about five of these in my pantry right now. Think of them as lemons on steroids and all that's left of their body is the outer peel and a good deal of pith.

                                                                                                                    I strip the peel using a vegetable peeler and either sink the strips in vodka, white vinegar or grapeseed oil OR I chop very finely and use wherever lemon peel is refreshing (like a salad, or sandwich spread, or marinade or baked recipe). Buddha's Hand likes to be kept cold or it will mold on you fast.

                                                                                                                    Welcome to Buddha's Hand!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                      Bitter cucumber recipes are really interesting on this site.
                                                                                                                      http://www.phamfatale.com/cat_4706/ta...

                                                                                                                      I'm working my way through the recipes. They also go by the name bitter melon.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                        In Chicago's many Hispanic markets the big Mexican papayas are available year-round. If you can get them where you are, buy one that is turning from green to orange in color. Put it in a brown paper grocery bag, fold the top down a couple of times, and clip shut. Wait until the papaya is so ripe that you think it might be starting to rot (5-6 days). Put it in the sink and give it a good scrubbing, then peel it, cut it into slices or chunks, and refrigerate. (I don't leave the peeling on even washed because if the fruit is ripe enough the peeling is yucky.) These papayas are BIG. You will have a week's supply. Eat it with a squeeze of lime or lemon. Good alone, on a fruit or salad plate, or pureed with vanilla ice cream to make a Brazilian dessert. Some people use the seeds, which are a little spicy. Thai cooking uses green papaya but that's a whole other story. In the midst of many snowstorms I am looking for the taste of the Caribbean: ripe papaya.

                                                                                                                      2. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                        I have that one, and one from Alice Waters/Chez Panisse called "Vegetables" as well. She also has one called "Fruit". I would not say either have extremely essoteric or unusual vegetables, but the cover more than "the usual suspects".

                                                                                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                          I agree. But at first we didn't know the OP was looking for extemely esoteric or unusual ones, just moderately esoteric or unusual. Still, I've been impressed with how many interesting veggies Jack Bishop covers in "Vegetables Every Day" and have tried things I otherwise might not have.

                                                                                                                      3. Spaghetti squash is a good one. I bake mine until soft then cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Then "shred" the squash into a pot and add butter and S&P to taste. Some people even use a marinara sauce on top (but I just like my butter) and sometimes I'll add a little brown sugar to sweeten it up.

                                                                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                          We enjoy spaghetti squash pre roasted, then split and stuffed with ground lamb and lots of chopped vegetables and spices. Continuing roasting until lamb is ready.

                                                                                                                          Also we flake the strands out of the shell once roasted, shape the strands into birds nest, lay inside a cupcake tin (lightly oiled) and break an egg in each nest, bake until firm and served with ham. Delicious.

                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                            Thanks for all the feed-back. I'll ask the 'veg-person' at the store about a specific veg/fruit and buy it than research ti at home.
                                                                                                                            Tried 'Dragon fruit'. It would have been a bit easier to buy if there had been a photo of the inside and a description available at the store. I notice pretty much all the 'Dragon fruit' sits too long and gets tossed at that store.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                              I buy Dragon fruit at the local Asian market when they have it. Sort of kiwi-ish in taste. Scoops out of that bright pink shell so easily with a spoon. Cubed it has white flesh and black dots. Kinda pretty for the ooh factor but not big on flavor.

                                                                                                                              But Puffin3, I would use Google IMAGE to look at a long list of photos of each item you are interested in. Click on the individual image and it will lead to a site that is a) using it in some way and a description. IMAGE is a handy tool.

                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                meh, dragon fruit. very pretty but not all that much there there. at least the ones i have tried.

                                                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                  Exactly what I was getting at I suppose. But, don't you believe everyone should at least try a new fruit or vegetables themselves and then decide if they like it?

                                                                                                                                  You didn't care for it, ok. I didn't hate it but I expected more sweetness and I hope the OP gives Dragon fruit a try and reports back.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                    oh, am all for trying new stuff. :)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                      I've tried Dragon fruit. It's OK but nothing to write home about flavor wise. The white flesh and black seeds are Kool though.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                        What do you think you will try next? You have a big list!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                          Fiddleheads. Only in the spring, but don't miss them. I simply steam them lightly, slightly grassy tasting but, to me, as essential a part of spring as daffodils.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                                                                            I really enjoy fiddleheads! So hard to find in just any place and the markets get a good buck per lbs but I really enjoy them simply turned in a hot pan with lemon juice, ground black pepper and a splash of gin!

                                                                                                                                            Good one,AdinaA!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                              ALWAYS find fiddleheads in supermarkets in New England.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                I wish we had them in all the stores!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                  I love them,but have found them exactly twice all the way down here in the south.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                              I have a recipe for daikon radish and carrot salad.
                                                                                                                                              1 1/2 cups finely shredded daikon
                                                                                                                                              2 med carrots finely shredded
                                                                                                                                              T finely chopped mint leave
                                                                                                                                              1 T finely shredded lemon rind
                                                                                                                                              1 t black sesame seeds
                                                                                                                                              1/3 C sushi vinegar
                                                                                                                                              I'm serving this salad with seared room temperature very thinly sliced rib-eye and thin sliced daikon radish and seeded cucumber slices with individual small bowls of ponzu sauce.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                      If you have a good Asian market you can explore a lot of greens that are in the bok choy category but really do differ. Here in Boston I shop at Russo's or Super 88 market and enjoy long beans, Chinese celery, at least six different kinds of choy, loquat, kumquat and lichee, and can try quite a number of new green herbs. I suspect if I went to a good Spanish market I'd encounter some new varieties of veggies as well and, in fact, your post just made me want to go and try.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: boyzoma

                                                                                                                                    And this recipe for a spaghetti squash salad looks good: http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sr44

                                                                                                                                      Oh, that does look yummy. I'll have to give it a go. Thanks for the inspiration!

                                                                                                                                  3. Celeriac was mentioned. We like it sometimes diced, boiled in a little water and eaten as a warm salad with vinaigrette dressing. We add caraway seeds to this and sometimes cubed crisp Apple.
                                                                                                                                    Or cut into thick slices, parboil, bread it and fry it!! Yum!!

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: RUK

                                                                                                                                      celeriac makes a lovely pureed soup with a bit of cream, or as a mash.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                        But washing, cleaning, skinning it is very time consuming. I am a vegetable person, but I don't do celeriac as often as I might because it takes so much time.

                                                                                                                                        By contrast, local markets where I live sell fresh butternut squash peeled and diced & artichoke hearts come frozen.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                                                                          Just take a heavy knife and slice the exterior layers off. It's probably twenty or thirty knife strokes. It's easier than, for instance, chopping a bunch of parsley.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                            And it makes your hands smell lovely for the rest of the day!

                                                                                                                                    2. Do you have access to farmers markets? The venders that I like can tell you what something will taste like, and give a couple of ideas for prep.

                                                                                                                                      1. SUNCHOKES!

                                                                                                                                        blend them into a creamy soup or grate 'em into a savory hash. no matter how you slice it, you've got a special dish. pairs really well with cumin, coriander, cinnamon.

                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: melentine

                                                                                                                                          I know them as Jerusalem artichoke and they are very delicious and not nearly the clean up an artichoke is.
                                                                                                                                          Another vegetable I don't see nearly enough in NJ markets.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                            They are very carefree to grow. I put 3 smallish ones in a very large pot last spring. This fall after the stalks died back I unearthed about 8 cups worth (using a pyrex liquid measuring cup). Super fresh they taste even better than usual.

                                                                                                                                            As an added plus the devil rodents ie squirrels left them alone!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                              What a fantastic idea!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: melentine

                                                                                                                                            I used them for the first time last fall when I saw them at the farmers market. I don't often see them in the supermarket, though.

                                                                                                                                            I made them into soup and fried. V. good!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                              They are super over-priced at Wegmans - I bought a small package from their organic section years ago - stuck em in the ground now I have bounty.

                                                                                                                                              Chayote is also pretty common in markets here and fairly forgiving to prepare - not much flavor but something for variety.

                                                                                                                                              Sometimes I just buy produce to take it home and see what it's all about - I have discovered that I patently dislike many of the tubers available but I always forget which ones until I buy them again

                                                                                                                                          3. I was in a similar place so in order to dive in more I've been visiting farmers markets and produce stands, and just buying what looks interesting. When I get home I look for recipes online to use them. Once you've bought it you're stuck with it... You gotta figure something out or let it spoil!

                                                                                                                                            Also you can start with veggies that are similar to those you are familiar with. Like carrots? Roast some parsnips. They look alike but are so different! Like onions? Try shallots and leeks.
                                                                                                                                            Many of the exotic veggies are easy to work with because they need to be cooked the same way as your more familiar ingredients. But fruits may be more complicated cause some of them have poisonous seeds etc.

                                                                                                                                            1. I've cooked with some of the vegetables on your "to try" (or "WTF?") list.

                                                                                                                                              Cassava is the same as yucca, and is also called manioc or tapioca root. It's an extremely starchy tuber, like taro. It grows in harsh climates where nothing else can grow, and really sits in your stomach, which is why in many poor African countries it's the starch staple, usually served as a mush under other things, like a polenta or poi. There's also a yummy jamaican fry-bread made out of it called Bammies.

                                                                                                                                              A number of East Asian countries use taro, fried in chips or added to stews, or mashed up with some lard and made into little cakes (sort of like polenta cakes -- these are often made of daikon, too.). I hate the flavor of taro, so I never make it, but if you want to see if it appeals to you, one easy way is to buy a small bag of Terra Chips in that flavor: http://www.terrachips.com/our-chips/t... . My old roommate used to make a sort of Thai-style coconut curry with it.

                                                                                                                                              Green papaya is amazing in Thai salads, shredded and tossed with peanuts, Asian long beans, scallions, fish sauce and some other stuff. It has a great mouth-puckering sourness and is very refreshing in summer. This is a good recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/thai...

                                                                                                                                              I'm pretty sure bitter cucumber is the same as what they call bitter gourd or karela in India. This is how my Mom makes it: http://indianfood.about.com/od/vegeta... . It is shockingly bitter, but some people love it.

                                                                                                                                              Black radish has a spicy strong flavor that kind of sneaks up on you and then gets heavy, so it's hard to eat much of it raw. Once it's boiled or roasted, it mellows out quite a bit, so it's good in stews and things, or served mashed with cream and butter like potatoes. The thing is, it's purported to have great health properties raw, so when I use it that way, I usually grate it fine and add it to a vegetable smoothie, or marinade it with grated beets and carrots in some apple cider vinegar. An ounce or so of the radish is more than enough in recipes like that -- a whole radish will take over the dish.

                                                                                                                                              There's not enough difference in flavor between the prickly chayote and the smooth kind to bother with the prickles. The taste of both is mild and pleasant -- somewhere between cucumber and potato, with a texture a bit like apple or pear. It's nice shredded in a salad, but I like it best chopped and added in a lentil soup.

                                                                                                                                              You can get cranberry beans dry, and then you use them like cannellini or pinto beans, but they also sell them fresh in the late summer. The outside is too tough to eat, so you have to shell them and then cook like fresh lima beans.

                                                                                                                                              You've probably already tried Gai Lan, aka Chinese Broccoli, but if you haven't, it's definteiy worth a look. The taste is somewhere between broccoli and collards, but the stems have almost the texture of asparagus.

                                                                                                                                              Another suggestion is fresh fenugreek leaves. They have them at most Indian/South Asian Markets, where they're often labeled "Methi". They're a very interesting greens and are supposed to be extremely purifying for the blood and balancing for the endocrine system. I only know how to make them the Indian way, sort of like this: http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/2013/0.... There's also an amazing chicken dish called Chicken Nizami with tons of dried fenugreek in it (Kasoori Methi). If you're interested I can try to dig up a good recipe for you.

                                                                                                                                              Some other greens I've come to love are amaranth greens (a lot like spinach in flavor), purslane (excellent just sauteed w. garlic), and lovage (super lemony tasting and nice in cream soups).

                                                                                                                                              Hope you'll let us know what weird vegetables you end up trying and how you made them.

                                                                                                                                              Happy cooking, ninrn

                                                                                                                                              1. Been wanting to try roast shallots but haven't had a moment yet.

                                                                                                                                                1. I use many different veggies from my Asian grocer:

                                                                                                                                                  I use bitter melon quite a bit. It is very good in mixed vegetable dishes and with fatty pork to balance out a dish. I have frozen it diced and used it directly from the freezer in stir fry.

                                                                                                                                                  I also prefer the really green choy vegetables. Long choy sum is green and leafy. They are also a bit more bitter ( in a good way). All are great sauteed with fermented soy beans.

                                                                                                                                                  Okinawan sweet potatoes are good for almost everything. I really like them smashed, mixed with onions, garlic and thick chinese chives then made into patties to pan fry.

                                                                                                                                                  Lotus root is a staple in my house. I love it roasted in the oven and doused with ginger and soy. It is like a potato that way. It is also good sliced and put in a mason jar with soy, ginger and rice wine and some sesame oil. Shake it up.They stay crunchy, last all week, and are great added to a little app tray before dinner. They turn brown from the soy sauce but stay crisp.

                                                                                                                                                  Taro root is good too. I use it to make chips and fries. I like it with ground red pepper flakes sprinkled on it. I serve them like sweet potato fries with a dip or remoulade.

                                                                                                                                                  Burdock root is great in everything. Love it. I really like it sliced thin and sauteed with other veg- but I also quick pickle it in a jar with turnip, diakon and carrot.

                                                                                                                                                  Silk squash is chinese okra ( but better IMO). I use it like okra, they are only good when they are small. Sliced on the diagonal, they are good in a sauce with oyster sauce, soy sauce, mushrooms and garlic for a quick side dish.

                                                                                                                                                  From my Mexican Mart:

                                                                                                                                                  I make a cactus ( Nopales) salad -and also pickle it.It can get slimy (like okra does) so it is not good for everything but it is so green tasting and good in a salad.

                                                                                                                                                  Banana leaves for cooking in....fresh epazote can be chopped and frozen for use in beans, soups and mixed in other veg.

                                                                                                                                                  Chayote. Really good on the grill. Brush with oil and finish with chunky salt for a great BBQ side dish, or just use it instead of zucchini in a saute.

                                                                                                                                                  So many vegetables...so little time :D

                                                                                                                                                  1. Bitter gourd. Also known as bitter melon.

                                                                                                                                                    It's common in Asia - I've bought it in Sri Lanka, where I was introduced to it, as well as Singapore and Malaysia. There are a couple of different varieties, one with a way bumpier outer skin than the other. I use them interchangeably - the taste is pretty much the same.

                                                                                                                                                    Using them in soups is fairly common, and I've tried them that way, but don't really like it myself. I prefer them deep fried...

                                                                                                                                                    To do the deep fry method... Slice as thinly as you can into round discs. Sprinkly salt on them - say, a teaspoon or so for one large bitter gourd - and mix the salt in. Let sit for half an hour (squeezing the liquid out later makes the bitter gourd more palatable). Get deep fry oil nice and hot. Squeeze the liquid out of a handful of bitter gourd, then deep fry until they're golden brown. Do this in small batches.

                                                                                                                                                    When you're done deep frying, you can eat them as is - I do. They're kinda like way better potato chips for me, and I can easily eat an entire bitter gourd by myself this way. Or you can make it into a Sri Lankan sambol by mixing it with a couple tablespoons finely sliced onions, a minced green chilli, a teaspoon of Maldive fish flakes (or tiny dried shrimp if you can't get Maldive fish flakes), and half a lemon squeezed over. You can also add a quarter cup of freshly shredded coconut if you like.

                                                                                                                                                    Man oh man, that is one of my most favourite dishes. And please note, I am *not* usually a fan of bitter at all. But this is nectar of the gods.

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                      My favourite bitter melon dish is to slice it, blanch it briefly, and then saute, adding a diced hard boiled salted duck egg near the end. The egg gives a salty, fatty coating to the sharp taste of the melon.

                                                                                                                                                      It also pairs well with spam - saute it with onion, spam, and maybe some egg.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                        Spam is out in my house - my husband is Muslim - but I like the way you're thinking. I'm going to have to give your methods a try. Thanks! :)