Vegetables

Vegetables

Vegetables is a catch-all category that includes many of the edible parts of a plant, like stems, roots, flowers, tubers, and leaves. Some biological fruits that aren't very sweet, like tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplants, and beans, are considered by cooks to be vegetables.


broccoli raab
broccoli raab
This slightly bitter cooking green has long been popular in Italy and is now catching on in America. It's best to just eat the florets and leaves; the stems are quite bitter.
Learn more
broccoli Romanesco
broccoli Romanesco
This is similar to broccoli, but its florets resemble pine cones. It's especially good raw.
Learn more
broccoli sprouts
broccoli sprouts
These are rich in sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting compound. They also have a pleasant, peppery flavor.
Learn more
broccolini
broccolini
Broccolini results from a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. The slender stems resemble asparagus in flavor and texture.
Learn more
Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts
These look like small cabbages, and they're most often boiled or steamed and served as a side dish. They have a rather strong flavor, so it's best not to pair them with anything that's delicately flavored. They don't store well, so use them within a day or two after purchasing.
Learn more
bull's horn pepper
bull's horn pepper
This Italian heirloom pepper is shaped like a bull's horn, and many cooks think it's a lot more flavorful than an ordinary bell pepper.
Learn more
burdock
burdock
Burdock is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, but it's already an important vegetable in Asia. It lends an interesting, earthy flavor to soups, stews, or stir-fried dishes. Select small, firm roots.
Learn more
buttercup squash
buttercup squash
With sweet and creamy orange flesh, the buttercup is one of the more highly regarded winter squashes. The biggest shortcoming is that it tends to be a bit dry. Choose specimens that are heavy for their size.
Learn more
butterhead lettuce
butterhead lettuce
This category includes Bibb lettuce and Boston lettuce.
Learn more
butternut squash
butternut squash
This variety is very popular because it's so easy to use. It's small enough to serve a normal family without leftovers, and the rind is thin enough to peel off with a vegetable peeler. As an added bonus, the flavor is sweet, moist, and pleasantly nutty.
Learn more
cabbage
cabbage
Cabbage is a nutritional powerhouse that can be eaten raw, usually in slaws, or steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Choose heads that are unblemished, smallish, and heavy for their size. They're cheapest and best in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Store them uncut and unwashed, in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Many varieties will remain fresh for several weeks. Varieties include green cabbage, which is what recipes often mean when they simply say "cabbage," red cabbage, napa cabbage, savoy cabbage, su choy, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi.
Learn more
cachucha pepper
These small sweet peppers come in different colors and looks like squished bell peppers. They're popular in the Caribbean, where they're often stuffed and roasted.
Learn more
calabaza
calabaza
These are popular in Hispanic countries and throughout the Caribbean. They're large, so markets often cut them up before selling them.
Learn more
calcot
calcot
This is a large, Spanish variety of green onion.
Learn more
California chili
California chili
These are dried Anaheim chiles, and very mild.
Learn more
callaloo
callaloo
These huge leaves are about a foot and a half long, and they're a popular vegetable among Pacific islanders and some Asians. Many Western cooks steer clear of them, though, since they must be cooked for at least 45 minutes to an hour to rid them of calcium oxalate, a toxin that irritates the throat if swallowed.
Learn more
cardoon
cardoon
This vegetable is very likely an early ancestor of the artichoke. Its large, grayish-green stalks are somewhat bitter, but they remain popular in Italy and North Africa. You can find them in large produce markets in late fall.
Learn more
Caribe potato
These large, starchy potatoes have purple skins and white flesh. They're great mashed, but they don't hold their shape well, so they shouldn't be used in potato salads or scalloped potatoes.
Learn more
carrot
carrot
Raw or cooked, carrots add sweetness and color to stews, soups, stir-fries, slaws, cakes, and crudité platters, plus they're a great source of Vitamin A. Try to buy them with the greens still attached, they're usually fresher and sweeter that way.
Learn more
cascabel pepper - dried
cascabel pepper - dried
These are nicknamed rattle chiles because the seeds rattle when you shake them. They're a rich brown color and moderately hot.
Learn more
cassava
cassava
People in Hispanic countries use cassavas much like Americans use potatoes. There's both a sweet and a bitter variety of cassava. The sweet one can be eaten raw, but the bitter one requires cooking to destroy the harmful prussic acid it contains. It's often best to buy frozen cassava, since the fresh kind is hard to peel. Look for it in Hispanic markets. It doesn't store well, so use it within a day or two of purchase.
Learn more
Catarina chili dried
Catarina chili dried
This medium-hot Mexican chili is used to make tamales, marinades, stews and soups. It's got a fruity flavor with just a hint of tobacco.
Learn more
cauliflower
cauliflower
Cauliflower florets often wind up in soups, or as a side dish smothered with a cheese sauce, or served raw on a crudité platter. Select heads that are heavy for their size.
Learn more
cauliflower mushroom
cauliflower mushroom
These are very flavorful, but a bit chewy. They're good fried, or in soups or stews. Select small, young-looking heads.
Learn more
cayenne pepper - fresh
cayenne pepper - fresh
These are often used in Cajun recipes. Green cayennes appear in the summer, while hotter red cayennes come out in the fall. They are very hot.
Learn more
cayenne pepper dried
cayenne pepper dried
These are very hot, bright red chilies. Recipes that call for cayenne pepper are likely referring to a ground powder that goes by the same name, or possibly to the fresh version of the pepper.
Learn more
celeriac
celeriac
This underrated vegetable is a relative of celery that's been developed for its root, which has a pleasant celery flavor. It's popular in France and Northern Europe, where it's usually peeled and cooked in stews or grated and served raw. Many large supermarkets carry celeriac; select smallish roots that are heavy for their size.
Learn more
celery
celery
Raw celery is flavorful and wonderfully crunchy, and it's a great vehicle for dips or fillings like peanut butter or cream cheese. Celery can also be sautéed and used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces. A bunch or stalk of celery consists of a dozen or so individual ribs, with the tender innermost ribs called the celery heart.
Learn more
celtuce
celtuce
This is a kind of lettuce that's grown for its stalk, which can be peeled, sliced, and stir-fried. Look for it in Asian markets.
Learn more
Cerignola olive
Cerignola olive
These sweet Italian olives are large enough to stuff. Black Cerignolas are softer than green Cerignolas.
Learn more
chanterelle
chanterelle
Chanterelles are a whole family of mushrooms, most of which are quite choice, but the name is most often applied to the golden chanterelle = yellow chanterelle. These yellow mushrooms are highly prized for their exquisite flavor, color, and texture. Other tasty chanterelle varieties include the yellow foot chanterelle, which is less meaty and less flavorful than other varieties, the black trumpet mushroom, and the white chanterelle, which is similar to the golden chanterelle, but lighter in color. Fresh chanterelles are best; dried or canned chanterelles are less flavorful and tend to have a rubbery texture
Learn more
chayote
chayote
This mild-flavored squash looks like a wrinkled, pale green pear. It needs to be cooked before serving, and for a longer time than other summer squash. You should peel a chayote before cooking it, but don't take the seed out--it's edible and tasty. Cooked chayotes make good low-fat substitutes for avocados.
Learn more
chepil
chepil
Look for this in the produce section of Hispanic markets.
Learn more
cherry pepper
cherry pepper
Along with pepperoncini, this is a good pickling pepper. They are moderately hot, and range in color from orange to bright red.
Learn more
cherry tomato
cherry tomato
These are less than an inch in diameter, perfect for adding to salads or crudité platters, or grilling on skewers. There are both red and yellow varieties.
Learn more
chia sprouts
chia sprouts
These resemble alfalfa sprouts, and can be harvested right off that ceramic chia pet you got as a gift.
Learn more
chicken-of-the-woods mushroom
chicken-of-the-woods mushroom
This got its name because it has the texture of cooked chicken. You can sauté it or, if you want to make mock chicken, simmer it in chicken stock.
Learn more
chilaca pepper
chilaca pepper
When dried, a chilaca pepper is called a pasilla chile. They are mild.
Learn more
Chilcostle chili
Chilcostle chili
This hard-to-find and moderately hot Mexican chili is used in soups, stews, tamales, and mole sauces. It imparts a yellowish color to dishes.
Learn more
chile de árbol dried
chile de árbol dried
Unlike many chilies, these remain bright red even after drying, so they're a favorite for making chili wreaths. They're very hot and somewhat acidic. Don't confuse the dried version with the fresh or powdered versions, which go by the same name.
Learn more
Chilhuacle negro chile
Chilhuacle negro chile
This excellent Mexican chili is loaded with flavor but hard to find. It's used to make mole negro and bean dishes. It is moderately hot.
Learn more
Chinese artichoke
Chinese artichoke
These look a bit like caterpillars, and they taste like Jerusalem artichokes. They're popular in France but hard to find in the U.S. Your best bet would be an Asian market.
Learn more
Chinese broccoli
Chinese broccoli
Like rapini, Chinese broccoli has small stems and green heads (which actually are flowers) and lots of leaves. But Chinese broccoli is leafier and less bitter than rapini. It's a great vegetable to stir-fry, but you can also steam or boil it, as you would broccoli.
Learn more
Chinese celery
Chinese celery
This has a stronger flavor than ordinary celery, and it's often used in stir-fries and soups. Look for it in Asian markets.
Learn more