Tired of the same old local produce and looking for something new, exciting and healthy to spice up your dinner menu. Here are a few exotic veggies that might be a bit harder to find at your local greengrocer but are sure to impress your dinner guests if you can get hold of them.
Celeriac – Though popular in Europe, this hearty, delicious root vegetable is not as common in Australia. That’s a shame, because it makes for a great seasonal alternative to the potato in the winter, and is an excellent source of dietary fibre. Celeriac is also noteworthy among root vegetables in that it contains very little starch. So those looking to cut the starch from their diet can still enjoy potato snacks by replacing the potato with celeriac.
Purslane – This leafy green is classified as a weed, but is eaten in salads throughout the Mediterranean. Purslane is rich enough in all manner of good stuff to classify it as a superfood. Not only is it high in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals, it also contains melatonin and has more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. It is said to have been Gandhi’s favourite food.
Sweet potato leaves – Although the greens are widely popular in other areas of the world, most Australians have no idea that sweet potatoes even have leaves, let alone that they’re edible and delicious, with a softer texture and less bitter taste than kale or silver beet.
But sweet potato greens as food may be getting more affection soon, thanks to a new analysis published in the journal HortScience that found the leaves have three times more vitamin B6, five times more vitamin C, and almost 10 times more riboflavin than actual sweet potatoes. Nutritionally, this makes the greens similar to spinach, but sweet potato leaves have less oxalic acid, which gives some greens like spinach and kale a sharper taste.
Kohlrabi – A relative of wild cabbage, this unique-looking vegetable has been hailed as one of the 150 healthiest foods on Earth. It is most commonly consumed in India, and is a staple in the Kashmiri diet. Pretty much everything on this plant is edible. Fry up the root for some kohlrabi fries, toss the leaves in a salad, or chomp on the crisp, juicy stems for a low-calorie snack.
Salsify – This plant might be related to the sunflower, but it's the edible root that is the real treat. Salsify has historically been popular as a food crop throughout Europe and as far as the Near East, and is also believed to have medicinal qualities. In fact, it was once believed to be a cure for snakebites. You can prepare salsify much like you can many other root vegetables, but what really sets it apart is the taste, which is akin to the flavor of artichoke hearts.