10 weird & unusual vegetables we bet you haven’t tried
To mix things up, sometimes you need more than a new recipe — you need a new food. The following vegetables and their corresponding recipe recommendations offer nutritious ways to break the routine and bring something new to your plate.
Though its name is German for “cabbage turnip,” kohlrabi is actually in the same family as kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. The greens and the bulbs are edible, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. In fact, the bulb — which has a taste and texture similar to that of broccoli stems — tastes great once it’s peeled, sliced and just sprinkled with a little salt. The best way to eat the greens is to cook them just like you would cook kale.
Kohlrabi needs to be thoroughly peeled before eating — both the stems and the fibrous layer beneath need to be removed to reveal the edible crisp flesh underneath. The nutritious veggie is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, copper and manganese.
If you want to try it raw but want something with a little more flavor than simply salted kohlrabi, try this kohlrabi Waldorf salad — which tosses kohlrabi with Granny Smith apple, raisins and pecans — from Vegan Yum-Yum. For a dish with cooked kohlrabi, try this kohlrabi and ham gratin from Eating Well.
2. Garlic scapes
You probably didn’t know it, but the long, curly, bright green stems of garlic bulbs can also be eaten. Garlic scapes are the immature flower stalks of garlic bulbs that resemble thick scallions and taste like garlic cloves but milder.
Also known as garlic shoots, garlic stems, garlic spears or green garlic, the scapes grow above the ground, attached to the bulb that grows below the surface. They can be finely chopped and used for flavor and aromatics like you would use garlic cloves, or they can be chopped into pieces the size of green beans and eaten as vegetables. And they’re nutritious! Garlic scapes are a good source of protein, vitamin C and calcium.
Garlic scapes make for wonderful hummus or pesto. Try this garlic scape pesto from In Jennie’s Kitchen to find out for yourself. To try them in vegetable form, we recommend using them in a stir-fry, like this beef and garlic scapes stir-fry on Food.com. For an example of how to use it for added flavor and as an aromatic, check out this recipe for garlic scape scampi from Closet Cooking.
Also known as Japanese mustard, kyona, potherb mustard or Japanese greens, mizuna is Japanese for “water/juicy vegetable” and is closely related to turnips. The veggie has white stalks and green leaves and is often used in salads, stir-fries and soups. With a mild, peppery flavor, it’s delicious as a replacement for arugula or mixed with arugula in salads. Like spinach, it shrinks when cooked; so unless you’re trying to get rid of a hefty amount of mizuna, eat it raw. Mizuna is high in vitamin C, folate, iron and antioxidants.
Want something a little more exciting than your usual salads? We recommend Bobby Flay’s recipe for grilled tuna “sashimi” strips with mizuna and avocado.