Magazine article Sunset

A World of Edibles

Magazine article Sunset

A World of Edibles

Article excerpt

Try out these unusual, and lesser-known, vegetables. Some you can even grow

BURDOCK ROOT

Arctium species

ORIGIN Eurasia; commonly grown in Japan

DEF The burdock root is hard and crunchy, with a sweet, earthy taste. Sold with the dirt still on it; should be eaten right after washing.

SYNGobo, in Japan

USES Stir-fry, or pickle it and toss with a salad, or slice thinly and add to miso-based soups.

GROW IT Sow the seed in spring or summer; small roots will be ready for harvest in about three months. The plant will go dormant through winter but bounce back for one more season the following summer. The leaves can cause irritation, so protect your skin. Seeds from Kitazawa Seed Company (kitazaiva seed.com).

CHZLACAYOTE,

Cucurbita ficif olia

ORIGIN Central America and Mexico

DEF A summer squash that can be eaten young, or left to grow large like a watermelon; pronounced chiil-a-cah-yo-teh.

SYN Fig-leafed gourd

USES If it's young, cook as you would zucchini. If It's giant, candy it as in Mexico and Central and South America: Peel, then simmer for hours in water with brown sugar and cinnamon until it's coated with gooey syrup. The black and white seeds are baked into a brittlelike candy called palanquetas.

GROW it While chilacayote is easy to grow - put it In a sunny spot and give it plenty of spacer - finding seeds is nearly impossible.

GAMDANA

allium species

ORIGIN South and Central Asia; used in Afghan cuisine

DEF Gandana (gafuVD-ah-nah) is a perennial leeklike crop with a unique sweetness that makes it an exciting alternative to leeks, chives, or onions.

USE Hard to find but it's great in the Afghan dish bolani, a large stuffed flatbread.

GROW it Not easy, because of lack of sources in the United States. You might have luck finding the tops at your nearest Afghan market.

MALABAR SPINACH

Basella alba

ORIGIN India and Bangladesh

DEF Actually not a spinach, Malabar spinach is a perennial vine that thrives in high temps. …

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