Vegetables Category

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.

leaf lettuce, bunching lettuce, cutting lettuce, lechuga, looseleaf lettuce
leaf lettuce
With their crispness and mild flavor, these lettuces are great in salads and sandwiches.
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leek
leek
Leeks look like large green onions, and they have a more complex onion flavor. They're often cooked as a vegetable side dish, or used in soups. Be sure to wash them thoroughly before cooking as the leaves are notorious for collecting dirt.
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lemon cucumber
lemon cucumber
This versatile cucumber is sweet and flavorful, and doesn't have much of the chemical that makes other cucumbers bitter and hard to digest. Though it's often served raw, it's also a good pickling cucumber.
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lesser galangal, kencur root, kentjur root, lesser galangale, zedoary
lesser galangal
This Indonesian rhizome looks a bit like ginger, only it's smaller and darker. It's hard to find in the U.S., but your best bet is to look in Asian markets. It's sold fresh, frozen, pickled, dried, or powdered. Used the dried or powdered versions only in a pinch.
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lettuce
lettuce
These are mild salad greens that are always served fresh, either in salads or as garnishes. There are four basic categories: iceberg lettuce, with leaves that grow in a dense "head," leaf lettuce, with loosely gathered leaves, butterhead lettuce, with tender leaves that form a soft head, and romaine lettuce, with closely packed leaves in an elongated head. Select lettuce that has rich color and crisp, fresh-looking leaves.
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Ligurian olive, Taggiasca olive, Liguria olive
Ligurian olives
These small Italian olives are brine-cured.
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lobster mushroom
lobster mushroom
These are actually white mushrooms that have been coated by a red fungus.
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lollo rosso
lollo rosso
This mild, tender lettuce has ruffled red edges.
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long white potato, California long whites, white rose
long white potato
These oblong potatoes have a medium starch content, and are valued for their versatility. They're good to keep in the pantry as an all-purpose potato.
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lotus root, lotus, quangdong, tenno
lotus root
Slices of the lotus root have a beautiful pattern. The fresh version is available sporadically; if not, the canned version is almost as good. Rinse and drain before using. Look for it in Asian markets.
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Lucque olive
Lucque olives
These green olives are brine-cured.
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Lugano olives
These are salty Italian/Swiss brownish-black olives.
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maitake mushroom, hen-of-the-woods mushroom, kumotake mushroom
maitake mushroom
This Japanese mushroom is reputed to have numerous health benefits. It also has a nice, earthy flavor.
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Malabar spinach, alogbati, Basella alba, Ceylon spinach, mong toi, saan choy
Malabar spinach
This is cooked much like spinach, but it's a bit slimy like okra. It occasionally shows up in Asian markets
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malanga, tanier, tannia, tannier, yautia
malanga
Like taro and cassava, malanga is used in tropical countries in much the same way that potatoes are used in more temperate climates.
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manzana chili, manzana chile
manzana chili
This habanero relative is often used in salsas. It has black seeds. These are hot.
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Manzanilla olive, Spanish olive
Manzanilla olives
These green olives are available in most supermarkets. They're often pitted and stuffed with pimento or garlic. They're often put into martinis.
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matsutake mushroom, pine mushroom
matsutake mushroom
These are popular in Japan, but they're hard to find fresh in the United States and dried matsutakes aren't nearly as flavorful. Avoid canned matsutakes, they're even worse than dried.
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Mexican avocado
Mexican avocado
With their small size and shiny black skins, these look like elongated plums. You can eat them, skin and all
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Mexicola avocado, cocktail avocado, Mexicola cocktail avocado
Mexicola avocado
This is a small, black-skinned avocado that's the size and shape of a fig. Since the peel is edible, they can be eaten like a peach. There's a smaller variety, the Mexicola cocktail avocado, that's oblong and virtually seedless. They'd make a great addition to a vegetable platter.
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mirasol pepper
mirasol pepper
Mirasol peppers have a distinctive fruity flavor. These are moderately hot. When dried, these are called Guajillo chiles.
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Mission olive
Mission olives
These are the common black ones that are ubiquitous in supermarkets, pizza parlors, and salad bars. They don't have as much character as European black olives.
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miyoga, Japanese ginger, miyoga ginger, myoga, myoga ginger
miyoga
These are flower buds that emerge from a variety of ginger. They're quite mild. Look for them in Japanese markets.
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mizuna, Japanese greens, Japanese mustard greens, kyona, spider mustard
mizuna
Mizuna has tender leaves and a pleasant, peppery flavor.
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mora chili
mora chili
This is a smoked and dried red jalapeno pepper. It's very hot.
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morels
morels
Morels are highly prized for their rich, earthy flavor, and also because their caps are hollow, which allows them to be stuffed. Dried morels are very flavorful, and they're an excellent substitute for fresh in sauces and stews.
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morita pepper, morita chili, chile morita
morita pepper
Like the larger mora chili, this is a smoked and dried red jalapeno. It's very hot.
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Moroccan dry-cured olive, Moroccan oil-cured olive, Moroccan salt-cured olive
Moroccan dry-cured olives
These are shriveled black olives that are somewhat bitter. They're best used for cooking rather than snacking.
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mulato chili , mulato pepper, mulatto chile, chile mulato
mulato chili
This very popular chili looks like the ancho, but it's darker and sweeter. It's fairly mild and has an earthy flavor.
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mung bean sprouts, bean sprouts
mung bean sprouts
These are the large sprouts that are common in supermarkets. They're crisp and nutty, and they're the best sprouts for stir-frying, though they can also be served raw. Select bean sprouts that are crisp and white with just a tinge of yellow. To keep them fresh, rinse them off and immerse them in cold water, then store them in the refrigerator. They're very perishable, so try to use them within a day or two. Canned bean sprouts are a very poor substitute for fresh.
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mushrooms
mushrooms
Markets stock a variety of cultivated mushrooms, but many people prefer wild mushrooms, which are often more flavorful. Be careful when picking wild mushrooms (some species are poisonous) and always cook them thoroughly, both to release their flavors and to convert their proteins into a more usable form. To prepare fresh mushrooms, first trim off the bottoms of the stems, then wipe them off. Don't rinse or soak them, for they'll absorb water and turn mushy when you cook them. Dried mushrooms are often excellent substitutes for fresh, though some species don't dry well. You can reconstitute dried mushrooms by soaking or simmering them. Don't throw out the soaking liquid--it can add more flavor to your sauce than the mushrooms themselves. You can also pulverize dried mushrooms with a food processor or blender, then use the mushroom powder to flavor sauces and stews. To learn about various varieties of mushrooms, click here.
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mustard greens, curled mustard
mustard greens
These are more popular in the South than in the rest of the country. There are red and green varieties, and both have a peppery bite. If the greens are too pungent for your taste, you can tame them by blanching them in salted water.
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Nafplion green olive, Nafpelion, Nafphlion
Nafplion green olives
These are green, brine-cured Greek olives. They're somewhat salty.
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nameko mushroom, butterscotch mushroom, huá zi mó, opyonok, Pholiota nameko
nameko mushroom
Nameko mushrooms are hard to find fresh, but Asian markets sometimes stock cans or plastic bags of it. They have a gelatinous texture and the Japanese like to add them to miso soup.
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napa cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Chinese celery cabbage
napa cabbage
Like bok choy, napa cabbage is a common ingredient in Asian stir-fries. It can also be used as a milder and more delicate alternative to green cabbage in slaws and other recipes
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nettles, nettle leaves
nettles
Nettles have long been used in Europe as a substitute for spinach or kale, but they're tricky to use. The tips contain formic acid, a nasty irritant that can give you a serious rash on the outside and cause even more damage on the inside. You can remove the formic acid by cooking and/or soaking the nettles, but don't try this unless you know what you're doing. If you're harvesting your own nettle leaves, select young ones.
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New Mexico green chili, New Mexico chile, New Mexico red chile
New Mexico green chili
These large chilies are similar in size to Anaheims, but they're hotter. New Mexico green chilies peak in the late summer, while the hotter New Mexico red chilies appear in the fall. These are moderately hot.
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New Mexico red chili, chiles de ristra, New Mexican chile
New Mexico red chili
These chilies have an earthy flavor and resemble the California chili, except they're hotter and more flavorful. They are moderately hot.
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new potatoes, baby potatoes, chats, creamers, earlies, potato nuggets
new potatoes
The term "new potatoes" is sometimes used to describe all small waxy potatoes, but technically it refers just to immature potatoes harvested in the spring and early summer. You can tell if a potato is truly new by its skin; immature potatoes have flimsy, parchment-like skins that you can peel off with your fingers. New potatoes are prized for their high moisture content and creamy texture, and because they can be cooked whole. They're especially good steamed or roasted. They're more perishable than other potatoes, so use them within a few days after buying them.
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Nicoise olive, Niçoise olive
Nicoise olives
A key ingredient in Salade Niçoise, these small purplish-black olives have a distinctive sour flavor. They're great in tapenades.
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nopales, nopal, prickly pear cactus leaf, prickly pear cactus pad
nopales
The canned version is acceptable substitute for fresh, but it has an inferior texture.
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Nyon olive
Nyon olives
These black olives from France are salt-cured, which makes them wrinkly and more bitter than standard lye-cured American black olives.
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oakleaf lettuce, oak leaf lettuce
oakleaf lettuce
Oakleaf lettuce has crunchy stems and tender leaves. There are red and green varieties.
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oca potato, uqa
oca potato
Oca potatoes are root vegetables that are popular in New Zealand. They come in a range of colors, inclucing pink, yellow, orange and most commonly, red. Oca can be eaten raw or cooked.
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okinawan purple potato, Okinawan yam, ube, purple yam
Okinawan purple potato
The flesh of this tropical Asian sweet potato is vivid purple. It's perfect for tempura, but it can also be baked, sauteed, boiled, steamed, or mashed. It is very popular in desserts in the Philippines where it is know as ube.
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okra, bamia, bamie, bhindi, bindi, gombo, gumbo, ladies' fingers, ladyfingers
okra
When cooked, okra exudes a slimy substance, which serves as a wonderful thickener in stews. Unfortunately, that sliminess puts off many diners, but you can minimize it by buying small, fresh okra and by cooking it very briefly. Okra's popular in the South, where they fry it in cornmeal, pickle it (this also gets rid of the sliminess), and use it to thicken their gumbos.
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