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.


tomatillo
tomatillo
Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes encased in a papery husk, though they're not true tomatoes.They're pleasantly tart, and principally used to make Mexican salsas, particularly salsa verde. They're good raw, but many cooks cook them briefly in order to enhance their flavor. Frozen tomatillos are good substitutes for fresh. Store fresh ones in the refrigerator for up to a month, or cook them and freeze them.
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trefoil
trefoil
Named for the three leaves that sprout from each stem, trefoil has a crunchy texture and aromatic flavor. It's great in salads or as a garnish in soups.
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tropical yam
tropical yam
These firm, white-fleshed yams are widely used in tropical countries. They're somewhat bland and dry, so they're often served with spicy sauces.
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truffles
truffles
Truffles are one of the most expensive of the fungi (technically, they're not mushrooms), but they're packed with flavor. You can grate raw truffles into salads, or chop and sauté them and use them to flavor sauces. Their flavor is complex, so truffles work best in delicately flavored dishes like cream sauces. Truffles are highly perishable, so you should plan to use them within a few days after buying them. To preserve them, add slices of them to bourbon, then use the bourbon and truffle pieces to flavor sauces. Fresh truffles are often sold in containers filled with rice. Don't throw out the rice--it was put there to absorb some of the truffle's exquisite flavor.
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trumpet royale mushroom
trumpet royale mushroom
This is a tasty, meaty mushroom.
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turban squash
turban squash
This squash has a gorgeous rind, but ho-hum flavor. It makes a good centerpiece, or you can hollow it out and use it as a spectacular soup tureen.
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Turkish green pepper
Turkish green pepper
These are long, green, and hot chili peppers. Turks like to grill them and serve them with meat. Don't confuse this fresh pepper with the spice called Turkish pepper.
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turmeric
turmeric
Turmeric has a pungent flavor, but it's more widely known for it's brilliant yellow color. You can find fresh roots in Southeast Asian and Indian markets, but dried ground turmeric is far more commonly used. Be careful when handling fresh turmeric--it can stain your hands and clothes.
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turnip
turnip
Turnips can be roasted, boiled, steamed, or stir-fried. Select small turnips that feel heavy for their size.
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turnip greens
turnip greens
A staple of Southern cuisine, turnips greens are traditionally served with salt pork or ham hocks. The leaves are pungent and slightly bitter, especially older ones, but they become milder when cooked. Don't prepare them with aluminum cookware, as it will affect their flavor and appearance.
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vine tomato
vine tomato
For best flavor, tomatoes should stay on the vine until they're fully ripened. This is a tall order for growers, who prefer to pick tomatoes while they're still green and sturdy, and then gas them with ethylene until they turn red. Vine tomatoes, on the other hand, are picked after they begin to "break" or turn red, which allows them to develop fuller flavor. Expect to pay more for the special handling required to bring these to market.
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Wakame
Wakame
This has a sweet flavor, and it's rich in calcium. It's often rehydrated and then added to miso soup or sautéed as a side dish. Dry wakame can also be toasted and crumbled over salads and other dishes. It's very high in calcium.
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water chestnut
water chestnut
Water chestnuts are delightfully sweet and crisp--if you buy them fresh. Though canned water chestnuts are more easily available, they're not nearly as good. Look for fresh water chestnuts in Asian markets. You need to peel off their brown jackets and simmer them for five minutes before stir-frying. If you must use canned water chestnuts, blanch them first in boiling water for thirty seconds.
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water spinach
water spinach
This cooking green is very common in the Philippines. Some varieties have purple stems.
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wax bean
wax bean
These are similar to green beans except for the color, which can be yellow or purple. Don't confuse these with lima beans, which are sometimes called wax beans.
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white asparagus
white asparagus
Growers make asparagus white by shielding it from the sun, thus stifling the production of chlorophyll. The result is daintier looking and a bit more tender than green asparagus
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white chanterelle mushroom
white chanterelle mushroom
White chanterelles are very similar to golden chanterelles, except for their color and relative rarity. Fresh chanterelles are best; dried or canned chanterelles are less flavorful and tend to have a rubbery texture.
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white eggplant
white eggplant
This eggplant comes in different shapes and sizes and, except for the exterior color, is interchangeable with their purple cousins, the American eggplant and the Italian eggplant.
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white mushroom
white mushroom
These are the mushrooms you're most likely to find in supermarkets. They're good raw, but more flavorful if cooked.
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white onion
white onion
These popular cooking onions are often called for in Hispanic dishes, since they have a cleaner, more tangy flavor than yellow onions. They're slightly more prone to mold than yellow onions, so store them in a dry, well-ventilated place.
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white round potato
white round potato
These low-starch potatoes are great for boiling.
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winged bean
winged bean
This pods have deep ridges, and attached leaves that open up like wings. Young ones are best. Don't confuse this with the yard-long bean, which is also sometimes called an asparagus bean.
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winter melon
winter melon
This Asian squash-like fruit has a mild flavor similar to a cucumber. It should be peeled, seeded, and cooked before eating. Don't confuse it with sweet melons like Honeydews or cantaloupes, which sometimes also go by the name "winter melons."
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winter purslane
winter purslane
This resembles ordinary purslane, only the leaves and stems are smaller and more delicate.
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winter squash
winter squash
Winter squash come in many sizes and shapes, but all have hard outer rinds that surround sweet, often orange flesh. Winter squash arrive late in the growing season and they have a long shelf life, so they've long been a staple in winter and spring, when other vegetables are harder to come by. Unlike summer squash, winter squash must be cooked. They're usually baked or steamed, and then sometimes puréed. Select squash that are heavy for their size.
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wood ear mushroom
wood ear mushroom
Chinese markets carry fresh or dried pieces of this tree mushroom. You're supposed to soak or simmer the dried chips until they soften, and then rinse them carefully to remove any dirt. They're not very flavorful, but they have an interesting texture and are believed to have medicinal benefits.
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xcatic chili
These fresh yellow peppers are long, curved, and very hot.
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yam
yam
Americans use the word "yam" to refer to a sweet, moist, orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato. To everyone else in the world, a yam is what Americans call a tropical yam, a firm tuber with white flesh. Varieties of American "yams" (sweet potatoes) include the garnet yam (pictured at left) and the jewel yam.
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yamaimo
yamaimo
This is a sticky yam that the Japanese peel and grate or julienne for salads. It's also fried or used to make soba noodles.
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yard-long bean
yard-long bean
These beans usually aren't a yard long--half a yard is more typical. Asians like to cut them into smaller pieces and add them to their stir-fried dishes. You can also boil or steam them like green beans, though they're not as sweet and juicy. They don't store well, so use them within a few days of purchase.
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yau choy
yau choy
Yau choy is more tender and delicately flavored than other Asian cabbages.
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yellow Finn potato
yellow Finn potato
These are great all-purpose potatoes, known for their yellow flesh, creamy texture, and buttery flavor.
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yellow foot mushroom
yellow foot mushroom
Though not as flavorful as golden chanterelles, these mushrooms work well in most chanterelle recipes.
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yellow onion
yellow onion
This is what most cooks reach for when a recipe simply calls for "onion." It's higher in sulfur than the white onion, so it has a more complex flavor. The sulfur, unfortunately, is also what makes you cry when you cut into it. Yellow onions turn a rich brown and become sweeter and milder when cooked. Many people find them too pungent to eat raw.
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yellow squash
yellow squash
This category includes yellow straight-neck squash and yellow crookneck squash. They're interchangeable with zucchini.
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yellow wax pepper
yellow wax pepper
These are easily confused with milder banana peppers. Sample before using. They are moderately hot.
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Yukon Gold potato
Yukon Gold potato
These are good all-purpose potatoes that have yellow flesh and a rich flavor. They're great for boiling, but they tend to fall apart if over-cooked.
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zucchini
zucchini
America's most popular summer squash, zucchini can be served raw, sautéed, baked, grilled, and even shredded and baked in a cake. Green zucchini is the most popular, but some grocers also carry a bright yellow variety. There's also a globe-shaped round zucchini that's easy to stuff.
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