It’s that wonderful time of year when community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes start to arrive on subscriber’s porches, the farmer’s market is piled high with goodies and the produce section of the grocery store is at it’s peak. Part of the fun of a CSA box or cruising the outdoor markets and produce sections in the summer is discovering new fruits and vegetables. One of the best aspects of this time of year is lower prices and plentiful produce – even if the produce in question is unfamiliar. Here are five of our favorite unusual fruits and vegetables to watch out for (– and feel free to stock up, as they can be beautifully freeze-dried):
Fava beans – When you see a fava bean, you’ll know it. They’re also called “broad beans” because they’re enormous. Bean pods are thick and can be up to 30 centimeters long! Each pod has five or six large, meaty beans inside that can be steamed or just eaten raw. Raw fava beans are delicious paired with some salty pecorino cheese.
Dragon fruit – Though these large fruits are strange looking, they don’t much resemble a dragon. It’s tempting to just buy a sack full of these pink beauties and leave them on display, however the fruit inside is juicy with a slight sour tang like a kiwi. Dragon fruit is best enjoyed by scooping out the flesh with a spoon. They’re very perishable so eat them soon after you buy them.
Jicama – This member of the bean family is pronounced “hick-a-ma” and is one of the most underrated ingredients in summer cooking. The flesh is crunchy like a radish but the taste is mild. It’s perfect for salsa, ceviche, salads or cut into strips for a sandwich or wrap filling.
Watermelon radish – These gorgeous little veggies are just begging to be photographed before you eat them. They taste nothing like a watermelon, but they get their name because of their unique coloring. Use a watermelon radish anywhere you need a punch of color, a peppery crunch or in place of Chinese daikon. Our favorite way to eat watermelon radish is to grate it, roll it up in a large basil leaf with a slice of fresh grapefruit then give it a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Tomatillos – Tomatillos may already be a kitchen staple in your house, but if you haven’t tried these versatile fruits you’re missing out. Tomatillos are Ping-Pong ball size green tomatoes wrapped in a papery husk. Our favorite way to use tomatillos is to roast them on the grill then whiz them in the food processor with garlic, jalapenos, onions and cilantro. This blend makes a nice green salsa that’s good with chips or on top of fish or chicken.