From A to Z There’s a Vegetable for Every Letter and Every One
From A to Z, vegetables come in every letter in this alphabetical list of vegetables. Vegetables are considered the edible roots, like parsnips, leaves, spinach, or immature flowers like broccoli, or non-sweet fruits like cucumbers. Now that you have 26 choices before you, there shouldn’t be any trouble eating the recommended five servings a day.
Vegetables From A to I
Asparagus are in season in early to mid spring but can be found in grocery stores year round. It’s one of the more expensive vegetables, often selling for $5.00 per pound. The vegetable is harvested when the stems first poke through the earth and are 10 to 12 inches long. Other “A” vegetables include artichokes.
Beets are a root vegetable that is round and dark red, although some varieties are streaked with white. They are best served cooked, although young small beets may be julienned and served raw in salads. The taste is sweeter than most vegetables. Other “B” vegetables include broccoli.
Carrots are crunchy when raw and have a smooth texture when cooked. They range from three inches long to 12 inches long. Most are bright orange. However, carrots come in red, yellow, and white as well. Other “C” vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, and corn.
Daikon radish is an oriental root vegetable which is long and white. It’s commonly offered as a condiment with sushi, and is served pickled.
Eggplant is an acquired taste for many. It’s egg-shaped when young, with a dark purple shiny skin. It has a tendency to become bitter when bigger and has prominent seeds. Eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge when cooked . Escarole is another “E” vegetable.
Fennel grows with a fleshy bulb right above the ground. The bulb is considered the vegetable. It has a slight licorice taste. Serve raw, thinly sliced in salads, or cooked as a side dish.
Green beans are a favorite of many. The beans may be harvested anytime after they’re a few inches long. Younger beans are more tender than older beans. The pod and seed inside are both eaten. Fava beans have to have the outside pod removed before cooking and the casing of the seed.
Hubbard squash has a hard thick skin, which means it stores well through the winter. That’s why it’s known as a winter squash. It grows during the summer like other squashes. The skin is dark green and the flesh is orange.
Iceberg lettuce has fallen out of favor recently because it doesn’t have as many vitamins as the darker green lettuces. It has crunchy leaves. Serve with Thousand island dressing for a blast from the past. It’s a head lettuce, and looks like a cabbage.
Vegetables J to Q
Jicama is used in Southwestern and Mexican cooking, and is usually served raw. It has a slightly sweet taste. To serve, dust with salt, chili powder, and a squeeze of lime juice. Peel off the brown skin before serving. Jerusalem artichokes are another “J” vegetable.
Kale should be cooked before serving as the raw leaves are rather tough. It’s dark green with a ruffled edge, and its flavor is pleasantly bitter. It doesn’t cook down as much as spinach does.
Leeks look like giant scallions or green onions. Only the white part is edible, although the green parts can be used to make vegetable broth. Leeks should be washed thoroughly, as sand hides between the layers.
Mushrooms grow in the dark and are actually a fungus. They range in size from tiny shitake mushrooms to huge oak-leaf mushrooms. Some varieties are very toxic. Only eat mushrooms you buy from the store, unless you’re positive they’re safe.
Napa cabbage is a loosely headed cabbage with a mild flavor. The leaves are crinkled. Serve in a salad or quickly stir fried.
Onions are the cook’s best friend. They are used extensively in many cuisines. When served raw, they have a bite to them. Cooking brings out the sweetness. Other “O” vegetables are olives and okra.
Potatoes are another kitchen staple. They are not the roots of the potato plant, but are tubers. When you see the “eyes” in the potato those are actually sprouts. If the sprouts are planted, a new potato plant will grow. A word of caution, all parts of the potato plant except the tuber are toxic. Other “P” vegetables include pumpkins, peppers, and peas.
Quinoa is a grain. And some might think that including a grain as a vegetable in this list is cheating, but corn is also a grain, and is definitely considered a vegetable. Grains are the seeds of grasses.
Vegetables R to Z
Rutabagas are closely related to turnips and look similar. It is a vegetable that stores well through the winter much like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and squash. Its taste is rather nondescript. Other “R” vegetables include radish and rhubarb. Rhubarb is usually served as a dessert, but it’s technically not a fruit, but a vegetable.
Spinach was the go-to food for Popeye the sailor. Canned, it does have a rather slimy appearance and is bitter. Fresh, it’s served in salads. Cook spinach until it barely wilts. Serve with bacon crumbles, and you’ll know Popeye was on to something.
Tomatoes: you say tomato I say tomatah; however it is pronounced, it says delicious to your taste buds. Tomatoes are usually red and about three inches in diameter. There are hundreds of different varieties ranging from tiny sweet currant-sized tomatoes to giants weighing over two pounds. Tomatoes come in white, yellow, pink, green, orange, purple, and chocolate.
Udo is the Japanese version of asparagus with a licorice taste. Use in salads cooked or stir fried. Find it in oriental markets.
Vidala onions are a sweeter version of yellow onions. They often don’t have that oniony bite. Vine leaves of the grape vine are used in Middle Eastern cooking extensively. They’re stuffed with a savory rice mixture or meats. You won’t find them fresh at the supermarket, but you will find them preserved in jars.
Watercress is a bog plant that has a spicy taste used in salads.
Xtra sweet corn because there are no vegetables that begin with X. The closest would be the Chinese name for watermelon, Xigua.
Yams are tubers. They are starchy and sweet when cooked. When baked, they are served with butter and maple syrup. Thinly sliced yams make great yam chips when deep fried.
Zucchini grows to baseball bat size if left untended in the garden. Harvest when small, no more than 6 to 8-inches long.
Cook Your Way Through
Now that you know a vegetable for each letter in this alphabetical list of vegetables, select a few new ones every week to try.
Burpee Complete Gardener, Allan Armitage et al; 1995