Take a walk on the wild side this fall and try some of our favorite and nutritious unusual vegetables. We've rounded up 7 different vegetable varieties that you won't typically find at the produce section in your grocery store, but may locate at specialty shops or at adventurous farmers market stands. Take a bite and fall in love!
Although fiddleheads may not be exotic vegetables for New Englanders, they aren't commonly seen on the plates of other US residents. Fiddleheads are harvested as the furled fronds of a young fern plant, and as such are foraged in forests where ferns grow. Harvesting fiddleheads can also be challenging, as some varieties are edible while others are poisonous. Fiddleheads are packed with nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, and actually contain double the amount of antioxidants as blueberries! Try them steamed on a salad or braised in a stew or soup.
2. Potato Onions
Also known as multiplier onions, potato onions produce prolifically, as one set will produce 8-12 onions. Although called potato onions, these onions don't taste like potatoes, but rather are named after the root crop because of their growth pattern. Plant them in the summer to enjoy in the fall, or in the fall to harvest them in early spring.
3. Jerusalem Artichoke
Jerusalem artichokes are root vegetables that belong to the sunflower family. Their stalks can grow up to ten feet tall, with bright yellow blossoms clustering at the tips. The edible part of the plant grows underground and is a tuberous root similar in appearance to ginger or turmeric. The most awesome thing about Jerusalem artichokes is their versatility as an edible - you can enjoy them raw grated into salads, baked like potatoes, boiled or steamed and even pickled!
These Asian leaves make for gorgeous garnishes and are a wonderful ground cover for any garden or greenhouse. Their beautiful red and green coloring makes them perfect for pickling and sushi plates, as well as for adding a bit of color to a salad. Shiso grows in a similar way as basil, and is very easy to propagate, so make sure you plant it somewhere you don't mind having it reappear!
Also known as Chinese artichokes, Crosnes are small, tan colored tubers that are ready for harvest in October. Although they belong to the mint family, the roots are the edible part of the plant. Enjoy theses small tubers raw by slicing or grating them into salads and sushi, or cook them up like any other root veggie.
Originating from the Andes mountain range in South America, oca is a root vegetable that is second to potatoes in our neighboring southern continent. High in potassium, iron and vitamin C, oca is slightly tangier and crunchier in texture than an average yellow potato. In some places you may even find the apricot oca, which actually tastes quite a lot likes its namesake!
Also related to the sunflower family, salsify is a tasty root vegetable believed to have medicinal qualities (e.g. a cure for snake bites). It is often also called oyster root, as steamed roots of young salsify plants often have a flavor similar to cooked oysters. Try them to find out for yourself!
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