Food

5 Trendy Vegetables to Try Right Now

Could yacón be the new kale?

Harvesting yacón, a tuber also known as Bolivian sunroot.
Photo Credit: jasonunbound/Flickr

Clothes, music, vegetables—everything has its stylish moment. And while beet salads and kale everything still saturate trendy restaurant menus (following on the heels of the formerly cool Caprese salad and roasted heirloom carrots), previously ignored produce varieties are trickling in to become the must-eat veggies of the season.

What’s going to finally boot kale off the stylish veggie hotlist? We have a few predictions for the next "it" veggie.

1. Yacón

Traditionally grown in the northern and central Andes from Colombia to northern Argentina, yacón has crisp tuberous roots that taste sweet. (image: chotda/Flickr)

Having a name very similar to bacon probably doesn’t hurt this Peruvian plant's reputation, though its health benefits outshine that of its porky populizer; the perennial daisy is found to lower blood glucose, blood cholesterol and triglycerides. While you could theoretically slice yacón thinly and fry it up with eggs, the sweet tuber is perhaps best suited for boiling, and used in salads or other vegetable-centric dishes.

Consider whipping up a batch of yacón chips:

2. Pattypan squash

Also known as scallop squash, Peter Pan squash and custard marrow, pattypan comes in yellow, green and white varieties. (image: beautifulcataya/Flickr)

Perhaps the silly name of this late-summer squash has thwarted it from reaching full-on cult status, but its adorable shape lends itself pretty perfectly to social media, a sure sign of popularity. At Brooklyn’s Sauvage, Chef Chad Richard uses pattypan on his menu, and believes it's rising in popularity thanks to its unique shape and color. And it's packed with magnesium, niacin and vitamins A and C.

"Treat pattypan squash just like you would yellow squash or zucchini," Richard advises. "It's great grilled. Or take the smaller varieties and shave them thin to garnish a salad." At his restaurant, Richard char roasts pattypan, marinates the small squashes in olive oil infused with garlic, shallot and thyme, and finishes the dish with sherry vinegar.

 

3. Turnips

Grown in temperate climates worldwide, the turnip may have first been domesticated before the 15th century BCE. (image: Abingdon Farmers Market/Flickr)

You probably didn’t expect to see this homely vegetable on this list, and to be honest, neither did we, but upscale, highly acclaimed chefs are using turnips in innovative, intriguing recipes that may just boost turnips' lifelong lackluster reputation.

At St. Louis' Vicia, Chef Michael Gallina uses purple top turnips as taco shells. “Young, petite turnips can be so sweet and delicious all on their own, but larger turnips, in particular purple top varieties, make the perfect taco shell," Gallina said. "They are crisp and fresh, slice easily on a meat slicer, and can hold up to just about any topping."

Plus, the turnip's root is high in vitamin C, while turnip greens are loaded with calcium, folate, lutein and vitamins A, C and K.

4. Microgreens

USDA scientists analyzed key nutrients in 25 different varieties of microgreens and found that red cabbage microgreens (above) had the highest concentrations of vitamin C. These nutritious microgreens are ready to harvest just 10 days after planting. (image: USDA/Wikipedia)

Once reserved for fancy, tweezer-wielding chefs, microgreens—tiny vegetables, harvested after sprouting, but before maturing into full-grown leaves—are no longer limited to restaurant kitchens. Packing a super-fresh flavor, microgreens are the more nutritious, substantive answer to herbs and sprouts on everything.

Bridgehampton, New York’s Good Water Farms grows 35 varieties of microgreens, which owner Brendan Davison says are "four to six times more nutrient rich than their mature leaf counterparts," meaning not only are they tasty, but healthy additions to your diet. Good Water delivers CSA-style microgreens to its Long Island neighbors, and sells living trays to chefs to use in professional kitchens. Add microgreens as a garnish to pretty much anything or try them on their own with curry vinaigrette.

5.  Ugly produce

Some may think these carrots are ugly. But when it comes to food, beauty is in the hands of the cook. (image: rc!/Flickr)

Say goodbye to perfectly symmetrical, unbruised fruits and vegetables. Dan Barber’s WastED movement has raised awareness of food waste and the way we value food beauty, making bruised tomato salad and broccoli stem puree the new “cool” thing to eat.

Barber’s sold-out WastED popups pushed food scraps and imperfect produce at posh destinations (most recently, Selfridge’s in London) for over $15 a small plate. That ugly lettuce leaf? Instagram (and environmental) gold. Try a puree, like roasted beet hummus, to disguise ugly vegetables into something delicious.

Watch a video about Imperfect Produce, a San Francisco Bay Area startup that combats food waste by selling fresh fruits and vegetables that never make it to grocery store shelves:

Do you know of a vegetable that's trending upward or even flying under the radar? Share it—and your recipes—in the comments.

Melissa Kravitz is a writer in New York City who writes about food and culture for First We Feast, Thrillist, Elite Daily, Edible, and other publications. 

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