What Do I Do With This Weird Veggie?

Maybe you’ve got a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share and have received something you don’t recognize. Maybe you saw something new-to-you at the farmer’s market, or maybe you just want to broaden your culinary horizons and picked up something new in the produce department. Whatever the reason, the question “what in the world do I do with this veggie?” is something most of us grapple with at some point.

Not to worry! I’ve got some tips to help you get over your unfamiliar-veggie-phobia (and maybe even find a new favorite)…

Beef Stew with Fennel and Shallots
Fennel is a great example of a common veggie that many people aren’t comfortable cooking with. Our team loves it in this Beef Stew with Fennel and Shallots.

Do some online or cookbook research.

As long as you know the name of the veggie in question, you can easily look up preparation ideas either online or in your favorite cookbook. You can check out our own Guiding Stars recipes as a starting place. Additional sites to check out a variety of vegetable recipes include the Fruits and Veggies More Matters website and the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

Consider it a challenge.

My daughter and I like watching those cooking shows where the contestants are challenged to make a dish using all the ingredients in a basket. When the fresh findings at the market or the assortment in your CSA box look strange to you, consider it a challenge to your tastebuds or your cooking skills. After all, these things are edible, and clearly some people like them/buy them or nobody would grow them. Break out of your culinary rut (a few tips for doing that here) and be adventurous. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite!

Get a couple of go-to techniques down pat.

Several cooking techniques can be universally applied to nearly all vegetables, meaning you don’t necessarily need any skills or unique talents to cook that one “weird” veggie member of your CSA box. Learn a couple easy techniques, such as roasting or grilling, and spare yourself the endless ruminating over how to prepare the summer’s bounty.

Just ask!

You might feel like a pest, but in reality, the grower selling that unfamiliar veggie at the farmer’s market—or the produce manager at the supermarket— is usually happy that someone is taking an interest in what they are providing. So, don’t be afraid to ask “What’s that?” or “How do you recommend I cook this?” or “What’s the best way to store this?” Don’t be shy—people in the food business like to share their knowledge and tips.