7 underrated vegetables and how to use them

A bit of booze in a soup makes parsnips an interesting proposition.

A bit of booze in a soup makes parsnips an interesting proposition.

Vegetables, like many foods, are subject to fads and fashions. Yesterday’s underrated leafy green becomes tomorrow’s ubiquitous menu item.

But food trends can come with confusing and frankly outlandish claims. It’s hard to keep up, so I turned to my old friend Tracie, senior dietitian at a Melbourne public hospital. I know there’s no such thing as a superfood, but could she tell me which vegetables are underrated, and should be eaten more often?

Tracie’s response was blunt: “I would say all of them”. The fact is, the average Australian only consumes half the amount of vegetables recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. And as Tracie pointed out, variety is the key to getting the vitamins, minerals and fibre we need.

I turned Tracie’s comment into a personal quest to find more variety. I would ask everyone I met about vegetables. What’s underrated? What do you do with it?

Cauliflower, roasted whole, is delicious.

Cauliflower, roasted whole, is delicious.

“Underrated” fell into two camps: unusual and interesting varieties; or (more commonly) familiar veggies that people disliked as kids, and rediscovered in adulthood as tasty and exciting. Here are my conclusions:

  • We should all try snake beans. Recommended in a ratatouille, or with black bean sauce.
  • Japanese (hakurei) turnip is delicious and versatile. Serve it raw in a salad, or as fried tempura.
  • For old standards asparagus, broad beans and cauliflower, the memo is clear: buy them fresh and do not overcook them. And cauli is great roasted whole.
  • Parsnip makes a beautiful soup. Add some white wine or vodka to your stock and serve with goat cheese crumbled over the top.
  • To bust apart perhaps the most common childhood loathing: roast your brussels sprouts with bacon and drizzle them with maple syrup.

So hail the kale and eat the beet. And for even better health, explore under the radar too.

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