The renaissance in farmers market has opened our eyes to all sorts of heirloom produce and forgotten vegetables. Some unusual vegetable varieties grow regionally or have short seasons, others are simply aren't widely cultivated. But unfamiliar vegetables have a knack for enlivening menus and piquing our interest in the meal ahead, so grab them at the market whenever you find them. To get you started, this guide will help steer you towards interesting vegetables, and ways to use them.
1. Celeriac aka Celery Root
Knobby celeriac may not be the most beautiful root vegetable on the outside, but peel away the bumpy brown skin, and you'll find a creamy colored root vegetable. It roasts or mashes beautifully, and has a sweet, earthy flavor with celery undertones.
2. Cranberry Beans
Cranberry beans lose their gorgeous vermillion mottling when cooked, but they've got a mild, almost nutty flavor and smooth, yielding texture that's great in a variety of dishes. Buy them fresh and shell them yourself, and you'll find they cook much quicker than dried beans.
3. Fiddlehead Ferns
4. Garlic Scapes
Garlic scapes are the shoots that grow from hardnecked garlic varieties. Harvesting them allows the garlic bulbs to grow well, but they're too delicious to discard. The curly scapes have a mild garlicky flavor and a fresh crunch that's great in everything from salads to pesto.
6. Romanesco Cauliflower
Sorrel has fresh, lemony overtones and a peppery bite that makes it a welcome addition to salads, sauces, and fish dishes.