Are peas and carrots making dinner at your house a bit dull? Give these weird-looking vegetables a try. Their looks are deceiving, as their flavor and nutrient content make them a wonderful addition to any meal.
Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke)
Resembling ginger root, but thicker and bumpier, sunchokes offer an abundance of iron and soluble fiber.
Select: Firm sunchokes with a light-brown hue. Steer clear of those with green sprouts, wrinkled skin or blotches. The stubby outcroppings don’t affect quality.
Store: In a cool, dry, well-ventilated area, away from light, for up to a week. Handle with care as they easily bruise.
Serve: Raw, chopped into salads (the skin is edible). For a healthy take on French fries, slice sunchokes into matchsticks, toss with vegetable oil, salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Celeriac (Celery Root)
This knobby root vegetable tastes like a combo of celery and parsley with a nutty twist. Hefty amounts of vitamin K – vital for proper blood clotting, bone mineralization and cell growth – make it a valuable dietary addition.
Select: Celeriac that is firm, not much bigger than a softball, heavy for its size and free of soft spots. Larger roots tend to be woody or hollow inside.
Store: Refrigerated in a plastic bag with the tops trimmed. Celeriac stays fresh for two to three weeks.
Serve: As an alternative to mashed potatoes. Wash, peel and cube; then boil cubes until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, and mash with garlic, chives and a pinch of cayenne.
Kohlrabi has a bulbous base with multi-directional offshoots that give it an extra-terrestrial appearance. It’s crunchy with a cabbage-like flavor, plenty of fiber and more than a day’s worth of vitamin C per cup.
Select: Smaller roots without cracks. Leaves, if attached, should be green and unwilted.
Store: Bulbs up to a week in a perforated plastic bag. The leaves stay fresh for two days refrigerated in a plastic bag.
Serve: Shredded along with beets and carrots, drizzled with olive oil. The edible, highly nutritious leaves are best sautéed with sesame oil and garlic.
Orange cauliflower is sweeter and creamier than white. It also has up to 25 times more beta-carotene, which helps prevent heart disease, cancer and age-related vision loss.
Select: Cauliflower with compact, uniformly orange florets with no dark spotting.
Store: Refrigerated, unwashed, in a plastic bag for up to a week.
Serve: Steamed, or roasted with a dash of balsamic vinegar.
Looking like a cluster of oysters, oyster mushrooms have a mild flavor and velvety texture, and are very low in calories. They are a good source of the antioxidant ergothioneine.
Select: Fresh ones with smooth, dry, blemish-free surfaces.
Store: In a paper bag in the fridge for only two to three days.
Serve: Gently sautéed and added to casseroles, soups or atop pasta. Stir-fry the thin caps (but trim stems before cooking). Do not eat raw.