Each week holds something new for food finders, and each stand holds something different from the next. You will never run out of garden-fresh goodies to buy!
But have you ever spotted something that you wouldn’t normally purchase? Something unusual that has you wondering, how do you cook that? Or even, what is that?
Well, I know I have. And for many other Midwestern taste buds, meat and potatoes and the staple vegetables (corn, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) are what we are accustomed to on our plates.
So, that’s why I’ve hit the streets of the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market on Nicollet Mall and put together 10 of the best finds at the farmers’ market and some recipes to get you thinking about ways to use them in your everyday cooking. By the end, we hope you’ll be able to tell your rhubarb apart from your rutabaga.
In no particular order …
You many have seen this fruit on the dessert menu at Chinese restaurants, but fans know, don’t you dare call it a nut! It has a coarse, leathery rind that you can’t eat, because all the goodness is inside. You’ll find the juicy white flesh of the fruit sweet and crispy.
Also called scalloped squash, this unusual looking vegetable resembles a flying saucer. The pattypan is part of the summer squash family. It comes in yellow, green and white varieties and is said to be super tasty with garlic. But seriously, what isn’t tasty with garlic?
The weird little stems sticking up from it may make it look like a root vegetable, but kohlrabi is actually part of the cabbage family. If you like broccoli or Brussels sprouts you will probably like this, but some think it tastes more a mix between cabbage and potatoes. The main thing to know about kohlrabi is that you can eat it raw or cooked and it has a lot of vitamin C and fiber.
OK, so you’ve heard of radishes before, so they might not be that unusual, but how often do most people eat them except for the occasional slice in a salad? That’s why we added the root veggie to the list — they are easy to grow and a crisp addition to lots of dishes.
Chinese Spinach (Edible Amaranth, Asia Red)
Look at that color! Wouldn’t it make a nice addition to a salad? Chinese spinach, which can also be known as Amaranth Red, as shown above, comes in so many varieties. The broad-leafed veggie can range from green in color or green with crimson areas running through the center of the leaf, to purple in color.
Wax beans, aka. yellow beans or butter beans, are related to the green bean family. You can get them in a purple variety too and they can be used as a substitute for almost any green bean recipe. Of course you can eat them raw when they are nice and tender!
So much more than just a tasty flavor around the holidays, ginger root is ready to buy year round. It’s spicy, pungent flavor adds zest to drinks, stir fries and desserts. That makes ginger one versatile little plant! It’s known as a great cure for an upset stomach, pregnancy pains or a hangover. Ginger relieves nausea too and is a healthy addition to your dinner or to just boost immunity.
Some veggies are sweet, but rhubarb was made to go in a dessert! It has a sweet tart taste and it’s so popular that in Lanesboro, Minn., they celebrate it every year at The Rhubarb Festival. Grown like a veggie and eaten like a fruit, once sweetened, rhubarb takes the cake as best veggie treat!
Peppers (Thai, Habanero, Sweet Banana, Hot Banana, Cayenne)
There’s no better way to spice up your dinner than by using peppers. And at the farmers’ market, they sell mild to sweet to extra hot kinds. Peppers have been known to speed up your metabolism, boost your immune system and even help prevent heart disease. Vendors suggest making a stir fly using a few different types. With so many to choose from, we couldn’t pick just one!
Parsnip And Beets
These two are combined together because they are both root vegetables and they are often combined together in recipes. Parsnips are related to the carrot, but packed with tons more protein then its more popular counterpart. Beets have so many varieties, but the garden beat (beet root) is what is most often thought of. They can be blended in a veggie drink or eaten raw in salads and are high in potassium, calcium, folic acid and antioxidants!