By Caroline Rosini
There’s nothing like a good haul from your local farmers market on a Saturday morning, or being the first one down the supermarket aisle when everyone is still sleeping. If you’re like us, (coffee in hand), you probably stroll by a dozen or so produce varieties you don’t recognize. Or perhaps you recognize it but aren’t sure how to cook with it? We’re here to help. We’ve identified seven unusual fruits and veggies that’ll add flavor and interest to any meal, from breakfast to dessert.
Yep, that dandelion. But it’s not just a pesky weed that mars a beautiful lawn. The greens that go along with the flower are edible and delicious.
Grown in backyards around the world, dandelion greens have a bitter flavor and are generally combined with richer foods to balance the bitterness. This unusual produce is a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and many other nutrients. Look for dandelion greens during the spring for peak freshness.
If you’re on Instagram, you’ve seen dragon fruit. Its bright pink skin and either white or pink flesh speckled with tiny black seeds are hard to miss. Though the pink hue is all the rage, also keep an eye out for the yellow variety when you’re at the grocery store.
Dragon fruit, or pitaya, can be grown in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, and Israel, and is a cactus fruit (similar to the prickly pear found in the American Southwest).
Despite its bold appearance, dragon fruit’s flavor is mild, like that of a melon, kiwi, or pear. Eat it alone or in a colorful fruit salad. It also has some pretty awesome health benefits; it’s low in calories and contains nutrients like vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants.
The curled fronds of a young fern, fiddleheads get their name from their shape, which resembles the curved bow on a violin. Fiddleheads can only be found in the spring, so don’t skip picking them up when you spot them at your local farmers market.
Prepare Fiddleheads the same way as asparagus, and are a great side to your main dish. Their grassy notes are perfect for pairing with bold flavors, like lemon, Dijon, and garlic. Fiddleheads are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, and copper.
You may have seen this little-known tuber in a crisp salad or adding crunch to tacos. Jicama is grown in warm climates, like the Caribbean, Southern Asia, and Central America, especially Mexico.
Jicama, with its crunchy texture and sweet, nutty flavor, can be used as you would a water chestnut and can be cooked or left raw in a veggie salad. This unusual veggie is high in fiber and vitamin C, and can aid in the absorption of calcium.
This green or purple bulbous vegetable is in the cabbage family, but is often mistaken for a turnip.
Commonly eaten abroad in Germany, Vietnam and India, kohlrabi is a mild-flavored vegetable. Enjoy it raw or cooked, as long as you peel away its thick outer layer.
The texture of the main body of the kohlrabi is reminiscent of Brussel sprouts or broccoli stems, making it a wonderful side vegetable while the leaves (if you’re lucky enough to purchase them still attached) are a delicious addition to a salad. Kohlrabi is an especially rich source of dietary fiber and vitamin B6.
The pomelo, or pummello and pomello, is South East Asia native and the larger, sweeter cousin of the grapefruit. On the outside, pomelos could pass as an abnormally large grapefruit, but underneath their thick green-yellow skin, they are sweeter and milder than the grapefruit.
The pale-yellow flesh is a delicious addition to a salad or dessert, while the juice and rinds are ideal for making marmalades. Like most citrus fruits, pomelos are high in immune-boosting vitamin C and potassium, important for hearth health.
If you’re a lover of Mexican food, you might know this little dynamo already. Tomatillos are native to Central America and a member of the tomato family. Although tomatillos look an awful lot like a green tomato, under their inedible, paper-thin husk, they are distinct in flavor and texture.
Tomatillos are firm and non-juicy with a tart flavor that combines well with avocado, peppers, or Mexican spices. Try making a tomatillo salsa or roast and add them to a spicy chili!