With the advent of spring comes a whole slew of fresh vegetables we’ve been craving since winter hit. But aside from recipe staples such as broccoli and asparagus, there are also a variety of underrated seasonal gems that don’t immediately come to mind. From fennel and fiddleheads to radishes and cardoons, there’s no better time than the present to try out these oft-neglected veggies.
These peculiar spiraled greens are likely overlooked simply because many blossoming chefs aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Although fiddleheads tend to be pricier than the average veg, they’ll brighten up any dish thanks to their bold colour and tight spirals. They’re also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants and fibre. Just make sure you wash and cook them thoroughly before indulging. Find more delicious ways to eat fiddleheads.
Sure, we all love a piping hot bowl of potato leek soup. But how else can we use this underrated veggie in our everyday meals? As a member of the onion family, leeks offer up a mild, buttery flavour that even non-onion fans will warmly embrace. Think beyond soups: it pairs well with other ingredients in tarts, scalloped potatoes, pasta, pizzas and stir-fries. If you’ve got more time on your hands, you can also try these recipes to master while indoors.
If you’re not familiar with ramps, you’re not alone. Sometimes referred to as the “delicacy of spring” this underrated gem is the perfect way to add a mouth-watering dose of both onion and garlic to any dish. Given that satisfying combo of flavours, ramps easily pack a one-two punch that will elevate any dish. A species of wild onion, they closely resemble scallions – albeit more delicate and with leafier greens on top. Although they might be a little more difficult to track down in stores, they’re worth going that extra mile to seek out. To get you started, try this ramp-infused herbed pea soup. Fridge rules: check out these things you should never store in your fridge (but probably are).
Alright, so morels aren’t technically a veggie, but these tasty honeycomb-like mushrooms sure are underrated when it comes to home cooking. Whether you indulge in them cooked or dried (they’re reportedly mildly toxic when eaten raw), morels taste meaty and nutty, adding a dollop of heartiness to every meal. Not only are they delicious, but they are jam-packed with fibre and antioxidants. Check out these vegetables you can regrow in your kitchen.
Many will be quick to point out that artichokes can be a finicky, high-maintenance veggie that isn’t worth the sweat and tears. But you might want to reconsider solely based on its nutritional value. Artichokes offset their slightly bitter taste by offering up iron, fibre, vitamin C, folate and potassium. Also, depending on the recipe, they’re not as difficult to cook with as you might think. Give it a second chance, if only for its numerous health benefits. For more inspiration, try these simple spring dinners ready in 30 minutes or less.
Ah, the versatile fennel – the mind reels at the various ways to put this humble veggie to use. Similar in flavour to black licorice, it makes for a great addition to pastas, soups and stir-fries. You can also enjoy it raw on its own or for dips – much like a celery and cucumber – while also using the dill-like fronds at the top as an herb for garnish on your favourite dishes or salads. It’s about time we give fennel the love it deserves. For easy meal hacks, try these dinners that start with frozen veggies (but don’t look like it).
The oft-overlooked watercress is a bold leafy green that packs a hefty nutritional wallop, especially with vitamin K. Alas, it tends to lose out to arugula when it comes to everyday cooking, salads or garnishes. Although it’s from the same family as wasabi and mustard, watercress boasts its own unique peppery flavour that adds a spicy punch to any dish. Check out these magical methods for reviving stale food, including leafy greens.
While you might see them pop up in a salad or veggie platter on occasion, radishes are often ignored. It’s a shame, too, given the plethora of health benefits attached to these bold, peppery beauties. An excellent source of vitamin C, fibre, potassium, copper and calcium, the radish deserves far more attention than it receives. So give it a chance to elevate some of your favourite dishes, beyond salads. Find more dishes that prove the underrated radish deserves more love.
At first glance, cardoons strongly resemble artichokes – which makes sense given they come from the same family. The differences, however, revolve around the parts that are actually edible. Unlike with artichokes where the flower buds are eaten, it’s a cardoons’ leafy stalks that we consume. They make for a tasty, albeit slightly bitter, side dish that closely resembles cooked celery. You’re more likely to come across these thistle-like veggies at your local farmers’ market. Bonus: they’re loaded with vitamin A and fibre. For an easy beginner’s recipe, try this cardoons with anchovies appetizer.