Unusual Vegetables

crosnes, Chinese artichokes, on a plate
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.

A bowl of root vegetable ragu over polenta.

Root Vegetable Ragu 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.

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Fiddlehead stir fry

Fiddleheads Stir Fry with Pork

Fresh fiddleheads stir-fried simply with slices of pork or chicken and some wild onions. Easy and great!

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A bowl of cholla buds.

How to Eat Cholla Buds

Cholla is a cactus in the Southwest with flower buds that are fantastic – they taste like artichoke hearts. Here’s how to prepare them.

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cardoon risotto recipe

Cardoon Risotto

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

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A bowl full of my cardoon gratin recipe

Cardoon Gratin

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

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Finished crosnes recipe, with peas

Maybe It’s a Tuber: Crosne

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).

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squash soup with bacon recipe

Squash Soup with Bacon

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

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Two plates of Japanese seaweed salad with chopsticks.

Japanese Seaweed Salad

Yes, you can make your own seaweed salad, from foraged seaweeds you can find on any North American shore. Here’s how to do it.

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kelp pasta recipe

Kelp Pasta with Rockfish

Pasta made with dried, powdered kelp. It has a pretty green color and a lightly briny flavor that goes well with seafood.

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Homemade tomato paste on a plate.

How to Make Tomato Paste

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

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Drying Tomatoes Without an Oven

Sacramento has hot, dry summers. Perfect for drying tomatoes without the need of an oven.

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Meatless spaghetti sauce with pasta in a bowl

Meatless Spaghetti Sauce

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

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Wild fennel flowers

Wild Fennel

Fennel is one of the garden’s most versatile plants. Here’s how to use every part of it.

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French sorrel soup recipe

Sorrel Soup, French Style

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.

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sorrel sauce recipe

Sorrel Sauce

A traditional French sorrel sauce with cream and a little white wine — it’s perfect with fish or poultry.

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oyster mushroom, oyster plant, pickled oyster recipe

Oyster! Oyster! Oyster!

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

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Fresh fava beans in the pod

How to Cook Fava Beans

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

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A bowl of winter minestrone

Winter Minestrone, Supermarkets and Brillat-Savarin

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

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