Kale, turnips, and leeks, oh my!
Have you heard about these 15 tasty vegetables?
They are not as scary as they might sound, and they are fairly easy to prepare by themselves or in mouth-watering combinations with meats, grains, or other vegetables.
I think people don’t eat more vegetables simply because they don’t know how to cook them. Well, now’s the time to learn!
Be brave and experiment!
Even if all you do is: 1) chop 2) steam until tender 3) add coconut oil, butter or olive oil and 4) mix in sea salt, you will discover delicious new flavors and develop an appetite for vegetables. (I always go back for seconds on veggies. Ask my husband!) You might even wonder why you didn’t try these 15 sooner. Yummy!
Bok Choy is commonly used in Asian cooking and stir-fry dishes, but is also delicious in everyday soups. It has a neutral flavor that makes it a nice addition to any vegetable combo. We like it sauteed with carrots and rutabagas. It also comes in a baby version, but both varieties taste the same. Try Baby Bok Choy with Ginger and Scallion by Real Food Forager.
When I was shopping for Brussels sprouts in the produce aisle, a mother walked up and told me that her son recently acquired a taste for this cruciferous vegetable because it was featured on the TV show, Sponge Bob, Square Pants. Well, if Sponge Bob likes them, then maybe your children will too! The key is preparation. Brussels sprouts are good steamed, but my favorite way to eat them is roasted in the oven with pears, cranberries, walnuts, and nutmeg. Also, check out these recipes – Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Wellness Mama and Bacon Brussels Sprout Slaw from Food Renegade. Yum!
Cassava (Yuca) Root – euphorbiaceae family
Cassava is also named yuca (not the same as the similarly-spelled yucca plant). When dried into a powder or pearly form, it’s called tapioca. It originated from South America, but is consumed most in African countries. This starchy root is delicious boiled and mashed. Learn How to Prepare Cassava Root from The Latin Kitchen. Enjoy easy-to-make Yuca (Cassava) Fries from The Domestic Man or try this Cheesy Mashed Cassava With Coconut Milk and Cilantro from From Brazil to You.
Cauliflower (purple) – cabbage/brassica family
This one looks familiar! And no, it’s not the wrong color. Heirloom cauliflower comes in purple, green, and orange. It’s good cut up and steamed or as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Check out my super-simple Mashed Cauliflower recipe.
Celery Root – carrot/apiaceae family
Don’t let celery root’s disturbing look deceive you. It can be eaten raw or steamed or mashed, but is especially wonderful as a soup served with apples on the side. Celery root (also called celeriac) is aptly named; it’s the root bulb of a celery plant. Try Creamy Curried Celery Root Soup (with a fun step-by-step video) by Mark Bittman from the NY Times or read about Ten (Yes, 10) Things to Do with Celery Root by Six Burner Sue.
Chard – beetroot/amaranthaceae family
Chard comes in a variety of colors, including green, red and even rainbow. It’s best sauteed, but it can be steamed or used in soups. We mix it with various greens and saute it in coconut oil with garlic or ginger. Check out Sicilian Swiss Chard Over Quinoa by Vegetarian Times or Falling Hard for Chard by Nom Nom Paleo with several links to appetizing chard recipes.
Collard Greens - cabbage/brassica family
Southern cooking often incorporates collard greens. We love them sauteed in tallow (beef fat) and sea salt. Nourished Kitchen has a tantalizing recipe for Creamed Collard Greens and Harvest Eating with Chef Keith Snow has a good Southern Collard Greens recipe, with a helpful video.
Kale – cabbage/brassica family
No, kale is not just for decoration at the salad bar! This super healthy green can be eaten raw in salads, sauteed with other vegetables, or baked as kale chips. They are easy to grow, even through winter in the Northwest. These kale leaves came directly from our garden in November! Try this raw Kale and Cabbage Salad by Rawmazing and Baked Kale Chips by Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. See, even kids like kale chips!
Kohlrabi – cabbage/brassica family
Just the name kohlrabi sounds sophisticated. It has a light broccoli-like flavor with the texture of an apple. Kohlrabi is delicious raw, steamed or baked. I like to dice and throw it in the pan with other vegetables. Get started with kohlrabi by reviewing Top Five Ways to Prepare Kohlrabi by The Kitchn or Kohlrabi Ham Bake by The Cabin Garden.
Leeks – onion/alliaceae family
Leeks are a lesson known but versatile member of the onion family. They add flavor in combination with other vegetables or in soups. Whenever you have a recipe that calls for onions, you can substitute leeks. Here are five recipes (including soups) containing leeks from Simply Recipes and an amazing Grain-Free Leek and Goat Cheese Tart from Brittany Angell of Real Sustenance.
Napa Cabbage - cabbage/brassica family
Napa cabbage is used a great deal in traditional Asian cooking, but also blends well in common cabbage recipes, including stews, slaws, or salads. It has a lighter texture than green cabbage, which makes it perfect for a fast stir-fry dish. Learn more about napa cabbage with Quick Stewed Napa Cabbage from Ancestral Chef or Quick Napa Cabbage Kim Chi from Jeanette’s Healthy Living.
Parsnips - carrot/apiaceae family
Parsnips are a sweet carrot-like root vegetable. They are tasty roasted, mashed, or in soups. Check out this easy Maple Roasted Carrots and Parsnips recipe from Alaska From Scratch or this Loaded Mashed Parsnips recipe from Primally Inspired. Both look fantastic!
Rutabagas – cabbage/brassica family
Rutabagas may have a funny name, but they are my favorite root vegetable. They are sweeter than turnips, but have a similar texture. They mix well with other vegetables; I add them to broccoli, cabbage, and green bean side dishes. They can also be eaten raw, but I prefer them cooked. The Gracious Pantry has a recipe for Rosemary Rutabaga Fries and Organic Authority has 8 Rustic Rutabagas Recipes compiled by Kristi Arnold for you to explore.
Turnips – cabbage/brassica family
Like rutabagas, turnips are a versatile root vegetable that combine well with various dishes. We eat them cubed in chicken and beef soups, but also enjoy them mashed with cream or butter and nutmeg. They also grow quickly; they were the most prolific crop in our garden this year! (If you grown them, you can also eat the greens.) This Paleo Twice Baked Turnips recipe from Paleo Cupboard looks good and this Roasted Turnips with Balsamic Vinegar from Kalyn’s Kitchen looks tasty too.
Winter Squash (different varieties) – squash/cucurbitaceae family
We all know acorn, butternut and maybe spaghetti squash, but have you tried buttercup, carnival, blue kuri, and gold nugget squash? (Pictured clockwise from the bottom left corner) No sugar needed! They are melt-in-your-mouth sweet. They are good baked or steamed. The easiest way to cook them is to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, add butter or coconut oil and sea salt, and bake for 45-60 minutes on 375 degrees in the oven. You can also carefully remove the outside shell with a knife, cut in half, scoop out the seeds, then cut into small chunks to bake in the oven with apples or pears and cinnamon and nutmeg. A wonderful treat for Thanksgiving dinner! OK, maybe butternut is still my favorite winter squash, but you can substitute any winter squash in 100 Days of Real Food’s Butternut Squash Soup. Also, look at Summer Tomato’s simple Better Than Butternut Roasted Delicata Squash recipe.
As you become more familiar with these vegetables flavors, add complimentary herbs or spices like rosemary, thyme, garlic or ginger.
Or zest it up with a dash of lemon or lime juice!
Or add your favorite sauce to the vegetables!
Use your nose to determine what flavors mix well together. Smell the spice or herbs, then smell the cooking vegetable and add what you think will work best. This takes practice, but it can be learned! My favorite way to cook is adding different herbs and spices without following a recipe, all by using my sense of smell.
Tell me about your cooking adventures using these 15 vegetables. They may be new to you now, but I hope they become staples in your kitchen! I’m so thankful God gave us diverse foods to smell and taste and enjoy.
Don’t stay in a vegetable desert with carrots and peas only. Broaden your horizons and find pleasure in an oasis of vegetables.
Your taste buds will thank you!
Who knows, your family may thank you too!