Humans have always been exploring new ingredients when for different reasons we have traveled to distant places, such as the route of spices. Do you know these foods?
For many years now, humanity has moved around the globe and food travels with us to one place and another. Sometimes the export of certain products is so common that they become very common in countries far away from their origin. On the other hand, there are foods that are commonly consumed in areas or countries not too far away that are not popular with a certain population, such as some types of vegetables . Despite this, it is increasingly common to find more specialized small stores that offer food from certain areas of the world where we can find a multitude of new products that can help us innovate in the kitchen, and we can even discover that they are closer to what you might initially think.
We are used to spinach, chard, artichokes and aubergines, peppers, tomatoes… And… fennel? Rhubarb? To chayote? Let’s see types of vegetables that you may not know.
Lesser known types of vegetables
Rutabaga or Rutabaga
- What is it and what does it provide us ?: This type of vegetable , as its name indicates, is similar to a turnip, but larger. It belongs to the cruciferous family and its external color may be more greenish or more purple, although the nutritional composition does not vary depending on the color of the outer layer, internally all have a yellowish coloration. It is a bulb that provides us with water, fiber, is rich in potassium, magnesium and phosphorus and is low in sodium. The leaves can also be eaten and their nutritional density is higher, as they contain less water. They have a higher content of carotenes and vitamin C.
- Where does it come from ?: Although it is also known as a Swedish turnip, it seems that its origin is Asian.
- How to consume it ?: We must choose firm specimens, without bumps or other damage and not too large, which are the ones that will taste the best. Once at home we must separate the leaves from the bulb and save. They can be consumed grated in salads, boiled as part of a stew, fried as a side or appetizer, etc. We can only use the leaves if they are very tender for stews, stews or purees.
Ocra or okra
- What is it and what does it provide us ?: When we talk about okra, okra or okra, or gombo we are referring to types of vegetables with an external appearance similar to a green pepper that belongs to the Malvaceae family. It is a food rich in fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin K, and it also contains potassium and, to a lesser extent, calcium and phosphorus.
- Where does it come from ?: It is originally from Africa and its consumption is also present in Middle Eastern dishes. Its majority production is produced in India and Nigeria, followed by Iraq, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Egypt, Ghana and Cameroon. But it is also present in dishes of Turkish and Greek cuisine.
- How to consume it? : When consumed in a variety of countries with very different cultures, it is a food that we can find cooked in multiple ways, however, it is often part of stews, because inside there is a mucilaginous substance that confers a texture between creamy and gelatinous and It is often used to thicken sauces and stews. In addition, as a general rule it combines well in dishes with curry, onion, tomato, etc.
- What is it and what does it provide us ?: It is probably better known than the previous ones, although in Spanish gastronomy it is usually used more as a spice and not as a consumption vegetable . It is a herbaceous plant that grows wild and gives rise to a whitish bulb rich in water, fiber, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin C. It also contains anethole, a substance that gives it its typical aniseed flavor and is extracted for use. in the food industry.
- Where does it come from ?: It grows wild in Mediterranean Europe and is used mainly as a spice, although in countries like Morocco or Italy it is more commonly used as a vegetable in salads and stews.
- How to consume it? : Fennel is very versatile and the seeds can be used as a spice, and the chopped stems and leaves as an aromatic herb. For example, in Sweden it is often used to season fish such as salmon. The fleshy part can be used raw to serve in salads or in a stew with couscous or with other vegetables and legumes , such as lentils, accompanying other vegetables such as pumpkin or carrot cream, etc.
- What is it and what does it provide us ?: It is a kind of chicory, in fact it is also known by the name of red chicory or Italian chicory. It provides us with very few calories, it is rich in fiber, vitamin K and calcium.
- Where does it come from ?: It is a widely used vegetable in different areas of Italy and in fact in ancient Rome it was used as a medicinal plant.
- How to consume it ?: We must choose specimens that are compact and with very crisp leaves and keep them cold. Of course, we can use it in salads but it is also eaten cooked in the oven, forming part of the dressing of a fish, with a pasta, etc.
- What is it and what does it provide ?: It belongs to the cucurbit family, like cucumber, melon, watermelon or pumpkin. It is a climbing plant that produces fruits with a slightly delicate appearance, but a mild flavor. 90% of the fruit is water and it also contains vitamin C, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine and potassium.
- Where does it come from ?: We have its origin in the countries of Central America. It is a food that was used by the Incas and Aztecs. Today, in addition to being consumed in Central America, it is also used in Portuguese gastronomy, in Australia, in New Zealand …
- How to consume it ?: It can be eaten raw as part of a salad, and cooked in vegetable creams where it will work in a similar way to how a zucchini does, in sautéed, baked, where you can also make stuffed chayotes, etc. .
- What is it and what does it provide us ?: It is a plant similar to chard, but with a reddish stem that is the only part that is consumed as the blade of the leaf contains toxic substances. Like most vegetables, it provides a very limited caloric intake and provides us with water, fiber, beta-carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin C and potassium.
- Where does it come from ?: It seems that the origin is Asian, although later its consumption spread throughout Europe and today it is also consumed in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- How to consume it ?: Its slightly acidic flavor makes it a product that is used in desserts in combination with fruit. It is a food that is in season in spring, so fruit-based desserts are made with strawberries that are also now at their best. In addition to its use in confectionery, it is also consumed in salty, for example, in fish sauces, as it is often used in France, in meat stews or in soups, as is used in Norway. In the cuisine of the East it gives rise to a dish called khorest, which is a rhubarb and spinach stew.
What you should know
- We suggest you get out of the comfort zone of known vegetables to discover new types of vegetables, foods, textures, flavors … that will surely surprise you.
- Try kohlrabi, rhubarb, okra … as they will provide you with nutrients such as vitamin C and carotenes, and delicious ways to prepare them.
- Fennel is a vegetable that you surely know and have seen in the market but did not know how to prepare: raw in salads, steamed or boiled, to dress fish …