Fruits and vegetables you may want to give a try

April 3, 2021

green and white text box reads: "The grocery sticker you find on produce contains a price-lookup code (PLU). A label with 4 digits starting with the number 3 or 4 means it was conventionally grown, and one with five digits starting with 9 means it was organically grown."

Do you, like me, love exploring new foods? Whether it’s a new recipe full of enticing flavors or a new-to-me ingredient full of potential, discovery is a wonderful part of cooking (and eating)! Because I try to eat (mostly) healthful foods, I especially love trying all kinds of new produce! Many fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed raw, but sometimes I swap a new fruit or veggie out for similar ingredients in favorite recipes. Other times I’ll find brand new recipes that showcase the new ingredient.

Bringing home new produce can be a great way to encourage picky eaters to explore new foods, too! My grandkids have always been eager to learn about (and often even taste) the unfamiliar fruits and vegetables I bring to the table!

Following are half a dozen fruits and veggies that I recently discovered. Perhaps they’ll be new to you, too! You can find many of them at the grocery store, your local food co-op, and/or Asian grocers.

Jackfruit

The taste of jackfruit ranges from nearly tasteless (when unripe) to mildly sweet. It’s an extremely versatile fruit! I’ve tried it in everything from desserts to vegan barbecued sandwiches! Even the seeds can be cooked and eaten. I gathered some great recipes — as well as everything you need to know about buying, preparing, and storing jackfruit — in this week’s blog post!

a new halved dragon fruit on a pale blue plate on a white wood surface

Dragon fruit (pitaya)

Another mildly sweet treat, dragon fruit — or pitaya — tastes a bit like a cross between a kiwi and a pear. I like it best fresh. Just cut it in half and scoop the meat out with a spoon — the skin makes a great bowl! I’ll often mix in some yogurt and berries, nuts, or seeds for a heartier snack. Here’s a vibrant Dragon Fruit Smoothie recipe.

Jerusalem artichokes

Okay, these aren’t really new to me; I just want to make sure you give them a try if you haven’t! This knobby-looking root vegetable is worth the little bit of trouble you’ll have getting it clean. (Enlist the help of a veggie brush to scrub the dirt out around those knobs.) You can eat Jerusalem artichokes raw, but roasting them brings out their nutty, mildly sweet flavor. There are myriad Jerusalem artichoke recipes online, but I’d recommend starting with a simple Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes dish, which is easily accomplished and my favorite way to eat them!

Plantains

I once bought plantains by mistake instead of bananas. I know. They don’t look that much alike! In my defense, the plantain is a type of banana, though it’s larger and tougher-skinned. Plantains can be eaten raw (make sure it’s ripe) or cooked. They can be used to make chips or tostones (a twice-fried snack), or grated to make fritters. You can also fry them until they caramelize at the edges — while the insides remain soft. Here’s a yummy recipe for Fried Plantains.

dandelion greens on a wood cutting board

Dandelion greens

Dandelion greens can be purchased at many farmers markets and even some grocery stores. And of course they’re easy to grow! (Just make sure you don’t harvest them from a lawn that’s been chemically treated.) They’re a bitter green and can be used just like (or substituted for) other tough greens (such as mustard greens). This means you can toss them into salads, soups, or even pasta dishes! Or use them to make this scrumptious Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto.

Tamarillo

Oval and smooth-skinned, the tamarillo looks like a pretty little tomato. You can find red, yellow, purple, and gold-skinned tamarillo. After removing the bitter skin, you’ll find the apricot-colored flesh both sweet and tangy. The edible seeds are larger than regular tomato seeds. Add tamarillo to salads, sandwiches, relishes, sauces, salsas, and chutneys. And be sure to try this beautiful Tamarillo and Orange Marmalade. (I think this would make a terrific gift!)

Whatever your local produce farmer is growing!

The best produce is fresh and local. Farmers markets, local co-ops, CSAs, etc. often have exciting varieties of fruits and vegetables. So chat with your local growers and cooperatives to see what they’re growing. You may just discover your next favorite food!

Have you tried any of the above fruits or veggies? (Or perhaps they’re staples for you!) What do you think of them? What other foods do you think I ought to try?

Take good care,

Headshot photo of Karen Mary with her signature in blue ink to the right

P.S. Stop by the blog every Tuesday for the latest posts — next week we’ll learn how to store medicines and supplements (and when and how to toss them out). In the meantime, here are some posts you might want to visit this week:

Jackfruit — How to purchase, store, and prepare jackfruit (new post!)

Making your produce last — Storage tips for fruits and veggies

Eggs — How to keep them fresh and how to tell when they’re not

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