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.


Chinese eggplant
Chinese eggplant
Compared to the familiar American eggplant, Chinese eggplants have thinner skins, a more delicate flavor, and not as many of the seeds that tend to make eggplants bitter.
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Chinese spinach
Chinese spinach
This is similar to spinach, only it's prettier, tastier, and more nutritious. Look for it in Asian markets.
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chipotle pepper
chipotle pepper
These dried and smoked jalapeño peppers lend a wonderful, complex flavor to sauces. They're usually rehydrated and canned in adobo sauce, but you can also buy them dried in cellophane bags. They are medium hot.
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choy sum
choy sum
This is a general term in Chinese for the tender inner stalks and flowers of green vegetables. White choy sum usually refers to bok choy, while green choy sum refers to yau choy.
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chrysanthemum leaves
chrysanthemum leaves
This Asian potherb is used to flavor salads, soups, sukiyaki and other dishes. The leaves are usually blanched briefly to soften them and deepen their color, but young leaves can be served raw. Add them to cooked dishes at the last minute, as they become bitter if overcooked. Some people may have an alergic reaction to chrysanthemum leaves.
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cinnamon cap mushroom
cinnamon cap mushroom
Cinnamon cap mushrooms have a firm texture and an earthy flavor.
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cipollini onion
cipollini onion
These round, flat Italian onions are about one to two inches in diameter. They're available in the fall.
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clamshell mushroom
clamshell mushroom
Varieties include the brown clamshell mushroom (left). This mushroom goes well with seafood or meats. Cook them before eating.
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cloud ear mushroom
cloud ear mushroom
It's hard to find these fresh, but dried cloud ears are an excellent substitute. Reconstitute them by soaking or simmering them in lots of water for a few hours.
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collard greens
collard greens
This is a favorite of Southern cooks, who often cook them with salt pork or smoked ham hocks. Frozen collards are an acceptable substitute for fresh.
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coriander root
coriander root
Thai recipes sometimes call for these roots, but they're hard to find in markets. The best source is to pull out a cilantro plant in your garden, or you can use cilantro stems instead.
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corn salad
corn salad
Corn salad has tender leaves and a very mild flavor.
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Costeño Amarillo
Costeño Amarillo
This yellow Mexican chili is used to make soups, stews, and mole sauces. It's fruity and moderately hot and somewhat hard to find.
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cousa squash
This Middle-Eastern summer squash looks a lot like spaghetti squash, only it has a thin, edible skin. It's similar to zucchini, but its larger size makes it a natural for stuffing.
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cracked Provencal
These aromatic green olives are marinated in a solution with herbes de Provence.
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cremini mushroom
cremini mushroom
These are closely related to common white mushrooms, but they're a bit more flavorful. Large cremini mushrooms are called portobello mushrooms.
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cress
cress
This is a peppery green that's great in salads, sandwiches, and soups. It's attractive enough to make a good garnish as well. There are several varieties, including watercress, upland cress, curly cress, and land cress. Cress is highly perishable, so try to use it as soon as possible after you buy it.
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cuaresmeno - fresh
cuaresmeno - fresh
They are moderately hot.
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cubanelle
cubanelle
These sweet, mild peppers are usually sold while yellowish-green. They become hotter and redder as they mature.
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curly endive
curly endive
You can use this crisp, bitter green in salads or cook it as a side dish. The outer leaves are green and somewhat bitter; the pale inner leaves are more tender and mild. Don't confuse this with Belgian endive, which the British call chicory and the French call endive.
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currant tomato
currant tomato
These are about half the size of cherry tomatoes.
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daikon
daikon
Daikon is larger and milder than its relative, the red radish. The Japanese like to grate it and serve it with sushi or sashimi, but you can also pickle it, stir-fry it, or slice it into salads. Japanese daikons tend to be longer and skinnier than their Chinese counterparts, but the two varieties can be used interchangeably. Choose specimens that are firm and shiny. They don't store well, so try to use them right away.
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daikon sprouts
daikon sprouts
These have a pungent, peppery flavor that works wonders for otherwise bland salads and sandwiches. They're too delicate to cook, so always serve them raw.
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dandelions
dandelions
Dandelions have a somewhat bitter flavor, which Europeans appreciate more than Americans. Older dandelion greens should be cooked; younger ones can be cooked or served raw as a salad green. They're available year-round, but they're best in the spring.
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delicata squash
delicata squash
This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes. Choose squash that are heavy for their size.
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dragon tongue bean
dragon tongue bean
You can eat these, pods and all, just like green beans.
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dried eggplant
dried eggplant
Look for these in Middle Eastern markets.
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dulse
dulse
This is a salty seaweed, so it makes a great salt substitute in soups and stews. Some people eat it raw, like beef jerky. It's rich in iron.
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edamame
edamame
These are fresh soybeans, that are usually sold shelled and frozen, but you can sometimes find them in the produce section, still in their pods. They're rich in protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Fresh edamame pods make great, healthy appetizers. Just steam the pods and have your guests split the pods open and eat the beans inside. Edamame, whether fresh or frozen, is terrific in soups and salads.
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Eggplants
Eggplants
This is a spongy, mild-tasting vegetable that's meaty yet low in calories. It's never eaten raw, but it can be baked, grilled, or sautéed. The best eggplants are shiny, firm (but not too hard), and heavy for their size, with bright green stems and unbroken skin. Smaller eggplants tend to have fewer bitter seeds, as do "male" ones with round scars at their blossom (non-stem) end. (The scars on "female" eggplants look like dashes.) Freshness is important, so don't store eggplants for very long.
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elephant garlic
elephant garlic
This looks like an overgrown garlic, but it's more closely related to a leek. It's much milder than ordinary garlic, so it's a good choice if you want to impart the flavor of garlic to a delicately flavored dish. It's often sold in a mesh stocking to keep the cloves together.
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empeltre olive
empeltre olive
These Spanish black olives are soaked in sherry.
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endigia
endigia
This crunchy new French variety blends sweet and bitter flavors.
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endive
endive
This category includes Belgian endive, curly endive, frisee, and escarole.
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English cucumber
English cucumber
This foot-long slicing cucumber is pricier and less flavorful than other varieties, but it has less conspicuous seeds, a thinner skin, and a plastic wrapper--instead of a wax coating--to improve shelf life. All of this saves preparation time, since there's no need to peel or seed the cucumber before slicing it. This is a good variety if you focused on looks--you can cut it into round, green trimmed slices.
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enoki mushroom
enoki mushroom
Enoki mushrooms have a delicate fruity flavor. They're usually served raw.
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escarole
escarole
Escarole has sturdy leaves and a slightly bitter flavor. Young escarole leaves are tender enough to add to salads, otherwise escarole is best cooked as a side dish or used in soups.
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fennel
fennel
Fennel tastes like licorice or anise, and it's commonly used in Italian dishes. It's very versatile; you can sauté it and add it to sauces, braise it as a side dish, or serve it raw as a crudité.
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fennel leaves
fennel leaves
For more information, see the Wegman's Food Market's page on Fennel.
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fiddlehead fern
fiddlehead fern
When a fern first emerges from the ground, its uncoiled frond is called a fiddlehead. Edible varieties of fiddleheads include those from the ostrich fern and the less common wood fern. They're available in the late spring and early summer. Select the smallest, freshest-looking fiddleheads you can find. Warning: Fiddleheads from bracken ferns resemble those from ostrich ferns, but are believed to be carcinogenic. Be very careful if you're gathering fiddleheads from the wild. Undercooked ostrich fern fiddleheads also have been linked to some cases of food poisoning.
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fingerling potato
fingerling potato
There are many varieties of these small, finger-shaped potatoes, but they all tend to be low in starch, and great for roasting or making potato salads.
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fingerroot
fingerroot
This ginger relative is popular in Thailand. It resembles long fingers jutting from a hand.
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flowering kale
flowering kale
This is a beautiful cabbage used more often as a garnish than as a vegetable.
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fresh beans
fresh beans
Fresh beans appear in the summer and fall, and they're sweeter and more tender than dry beans. You don't need to soak them or cook them as long as dried beans, but they often need to be shelled before using. You can usually substitute them with dried beans pound for pound.
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