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Unusual Vegetables

crosnes, Chinese artichokes

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Cardoons, salsify, odd greens, beans and other veggies are my specialty: If it is not likely on a typical produce counter, then it’s probably in my garden. You can get many of these odd vegetables at good farmer’s markets, and of course you can grow your own. Linked below are some sources for seeds and sets.

NOTE: I do indeed have some recipes for “regular” garden vegetables, and they are here, too.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Root Vegetable Ragout with Polenta

A hearty Italian ragout made with all kinds of root vegetables, from the unusual to the mundane. It’s a great late winter-early spring dinner when served with polenta.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Cardoon Risotto

A subtle risotto made from cardoons, which are an ancient relative of the artichoke.
Photo b Holly A. Heyser

Cardoon Gratin

My go-to dish for cardoons. If you only learn one recipe for cardoons, this is it.

Cardoons, Ancient Roman Style

This is an original recipe for cardoons that is based off some dishes I read about in Apicius, an ancient Roman cookbook writer.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Crosnes and Peas

No these are not grubs. They are a small, crunchy tuber called crosnes — pronounced like the old woman — Chinese artichokes or betony (there’s a wild relative of this plant that grows in Florida).
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Squash Soup with Bacon

Butternut or kabocha squash soup. Pretty mundate, eh? My version is made with bacon which gets pureed with everything else.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Tomato Conserva

Call it strattu, estrattu or conserva, just don’t call it tomato paste. It’s much, much better.

Drying Tomatoes Without an Oven

Sacramento has hot, dry summers. Perfect for drying tomatoes without the need of an oven.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Tomato-Fennel Pasta Sauce

This is my go-to tomato sauce with fish. It’s also a winner as a summertime pasta sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Playing with Fennel

Fennel is one of the garden’s most versatile plants. Here’s how to use every part of it.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Sorrel Soup, French Style

OK, this is a leaner. I grow sorrel in my garden, but it is also a common wild edible. Both kinds work well in my version of Julia Child’s classic French soup.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Cauliflower Fritters

A Spanish style fritter of cauliflower served with saffron aioli, A great party appetizer.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Oyster! Oyster! Oyster!

This is one of my favorite dishes. Oyster mushrooms, oyster plant — salsify — and actual oysters.

Tuscan Baked Beans

My take on classic New England baked beans, only with an Italian twist.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Greek Stewed Gigandes Beans

A classic Greek recipe for giant beans  slowly stewed with tomato and garlic.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Cicerchia Bean Soup

Old-school Italian cicerchia beans, cooked into a pasta e fagioli style soup

A Proper Salad

I am very particular on what a greens salad should and should not be. Here are my rules.

Fresh Fava Beans

How to grow, harvest and process your own fresh fava beans.

Ancient Roman Fava Bean Dip

An ancient Roman recipe from Apicius for a fava bean spread for toast or crackers.

Fresh Fava Bean Spread

My modern fava bean dip, made with fresh spring favas.
photo by Holly A. Heyser

Winter Minestrone

The first recipe I posted to this website, back in 2007. It’s still my favorite winter soup.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Stewed Artichokes with Fresh Fava Beans

Stewed artichokes with fresh favas. Can’t get much more spring – or Mediterranean – than that.

More Recipes for Wild and Foraged Vegetables

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2 responses to “Unusual Vegetables”

  1. Lou

    Hank, I love cardoons! (cardun in dialect).

    You have GOT to try the young ones lightly battered and fried. You will
    eat an entire bowl.

    -Lou

  2. Ken Royer

    Hank love the site. Used to live in Rio Linda. Do you have any recipes/foraging tips on the chicory roots/plants that are all over in the fields there? I drink a chicory blend coffee from Cafe Du Monde and have wondered what could be done with all that chicory at my parents old place.

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