Cabbage Green Red and Savoy

Identification: Cabbages are large leaf clusters in dense,round heads (heads may also be flat or elongated, depending on the variety). Cabbage and mustard are in the same family, a relationship that can be detected in the faintly peppery taste.

Evaluation: For both green and red cabbage, look for a firm head, heavy for size. Good color. Crisp leaves, finely ribbed. Savoy cabbage is not as heavy, with darker green, ruffled leaves.

Preparation: Remove coarse or discolored outer leaves. Remove core and rinse whole, or cut into quarters and then remove core. For wedges, core is left in, but with bottom trimmed,to hold sections together.(See Figure 16.7)

Percentage Yield: 80% Figure 16.7

Cutting and shredding cabbage.

(a) Cut the cabbage head into quarters. Then cut out the core as shown.

(a) Cut the cabbage head into quarters. Then cut out the core as shown.

(b) With a French knife, cut into thin shreds.

Brussel sprouts

Green cabbage

Red cabbage

(b) With a French knife, cut into thin shreds.

Savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage

Cabbage, Chinese

Identification: Heads of tender, crinkly, pale green leaves with broad, flat center stalks.The flavor is mild and slightly spicy.

Related Varieties: There are two main varieties, with different head shapes, although the flavor and texture are virtually the same for both.The head of napa cabbage is stout and barrel-shaped.A more elongated, slender head cabbage is often called celery cabbage for its shape. See also Bok Choy, a closely related cabbage. Evaluation: Look for firm, tightly packed heads with no dry or browned tips, crisp and not limp or wilted.

Preparation: Wash. Cut as desired, discarding the center core. Percentage Yield: 85%

Cactus Pads or Nopales

Identification: Nopales are tender pads of the prickly pear cactus.When cooked, their texture is slippery, like that of okra, and their flavor slightly resembles cooked green pepper or possibly green beans with a slight sourness.

Evaluation: Try to purchase pads with the spines removed. Look for full, firm, crisp pads, not wilted or soft ones.

Preparation: If spines are present,wear rubber gloves and brush them vigorously under running water, then with a vegetable peeler remove the eyes that held the spines.Trim the base if necessary. Cut as desired. Can be sauteed,boiled, steamed, or grilled.

Percentage Yield: 90%


Identification: Long, pointed, orange roots.Among the most widely used vegetables.

Evaluation: Look for bright orange color; crisp, straight, and well shaped; smooth surface. Large carrots are sometimes woody. Preparation: Trim top and bottom ends. Pare with hand peeler. Percentage Yield: 75-80%


Identification: White or off-white, tight cluster of tiny flowers (florets) branching off a central stalk. Member of the cabbage family.

Related Varieties: Broccoflower is a light green relative that looks like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Handle like regular cauliflower.

Evaluation: Look for white color, not yellow or brownish; fine-grained, tightly closed buds; fresh green, well-trimmed leaves.

Preparation: Remove leaves and trim tough part of stalk. Cut away discolored parts.Wash. Soak in salted water 30 minutes if necessary to remove insects. Separate into florets, leaving portion of center stalk attached to each one to minimize trim loss. If cooking whole, cut out center of stalk for more even cooking.

Percentage Yield: 55%


Identification: Pale green stems that form bunches or clusters attached at root end. One of the most common vegetables.

Evaluation: Look for bunches that are straight,compact,well trimmed;fresh green color.

Preparation: Cut off root end. Separate stems and scrub well. Reserve leaves and tough outer stems for stocks, soups, mirepoix. Ribbed outer side of stems may be peeled to remove strings.

Percentage Yield: 75%


Celery Root or Celeriac

Identification: A variety of celery grown for its round,fleshy white root. Evaluation: Select firm and heavy roots. Large ones are often soft and spongy in the center.

Preparation: Wash well, peel,and cut as desired. Percentage Yield: 75%


Identification: A member of the gourd or squash family, this vegetable has a crisp texture and a mild flavor that is somewhere between zucchini and cucumber. It is roughly pear-shaped, although more rounded, with a thin yellow-green skin and creamy white flesh. It is also known as mirliton and vegetable pear.

Evaluation: Look for firm, solid chayotes without blemishes. Preparation: Skin can be left on if served raw, but peel chayotes to be cooked, because the skin toughens.The soft seed in the middle can also be eaten. Percentage Yield: 100% if unpeeled; 85-90% if peeled


Identification: Chestnuts are the seed or nut of a variety of trees grown primarily in Europe.They have a thin, hard, dark brown outer shell and a bitter inner skin surrounding a soft, starchy meat.

Evaluation: Look for plump, firm nuts with no blemishes on the shells.

Preparation: The shell and skin must be removed before use.With the point of a paring knife, cut an X in the shell on the flat side of each nut. Roast at 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes or blanch in boiling water. Peel while still hot.

Percentage Yield: 75%

Celery root



Identification: Corn is a grain that is used as a vegetable if immature. It grows in rows on the outside of a central woody cob and is covered with a leafy husk.Vari-eties grown for vegetable use are sweeter than grain varieties.

Evaluation: Look for fresh, moist husks, not dry; no worm damage; kernels well filled, tender, and milky when punctured.

Preparation: Strip off husks,remove silk, and cut off bottom stump. Cut into two or three sections as desired, if serving on cob, or cut from cob. Keep refrigerated and use as soon as possible.

Percentage Yield: 28% after husking and cutting from cob


Identification: A member of the gourd family, like squash, the cucumber has a thin green skin and a crisp,mild,juicy off-white flesh.

Related Varieties: Cucumbers are of two types, slicing and pickling.The common green slicing cucumber, with dark green skin, is most often used in food service. The long, slender hothouse cucumber,also called seedless and burpless,is another common slicing cucumber. Pickling cucumbers, also called Kirbys, range in size from tiny gherkins to the large ones used to make dill pickles.They are somewhat drier and a little more flavorful than the slicing types.Their green skin is a little lighter in color than that of slicing cucumbers, and the surface is bumpy. Evaluation: Look for vegetables that are firm, crisp, dark green, well shaped.Yel-low color means the cucumber is overmature.

Preparation: Wash.Trim ends. Peel if skin is tough or has been waxed. Skin may be scored to make decorative slices (see Figure 16.8).

Percentage Yield: 75-95%, depending on peeling

Figure 16.8

Cucumber garnishes can be made more decorative by scoring the cucumber before slicing or cutting.

Figure 16.8

Cucumber garnishes can be made more decorative by scoring the cucumber before slicing or cutting.

(b) Scoring with a channel knife.


Identification: Eggplants are members of the same family as tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes.They have purple,white,or pale green skin and a firm but spongy off-white flesh containing tiny edible seeds.

Related Varieties: Worldwide, there are dozens of varieties. In the West, the most common is the large, oblong, purple-skinned variety. Smaller, elongated varieties are sometimes called Italian eggplant.White-skinned varieties are round, egg-shaped (the origin of the name eggplant), or long and slender. Japanese eggplants are small,long and slender,with a purple instead of green stem.Asian types include small round, green-skinned fruits, including a Thai eggplant no larger than a pea. The flesh of these varieties is similar in flavor, varying in texture or density from soft to almost hard.

Evaluation: Eggplants should be firm, not soft. Common purple types should be shiny, dark purple color; heavy and plump;without blemishes or soft spots. Preparation: Wash.Trim off stem end. Peel if skin is tough. Cut just before use. Dip in lemon juice or antioxidant solution to prevent discoloration if not to be cooked within a few minutes after peeling and cutting. Percentage Yield: 90% (75% if peeled)


Identification: The clustered or bunched stems form a bulbous base.The fleshy bulb is white with a pale hint of green,while the stems are darker green.The aroma and flavor have a faint suggestion of licorice.

Related Varieties: The vegetable fennel is more properly known as Florence fennel, to distinguish it from the varieties grown as a spice (seed) and herb.The vegetable is sometimes incorrectly called anise,which is a different plant. Evaluation: Look for bright, pale green color with few or no brown spots. Fresh green tops, not wilted or spoiled. Compact, heavy for size.

Preparation: Trim stems and feathery leaves. Split in half through the base. If the Fennel fennel is large, cut out the core as for cabbage if it is fibrous or tough.

Percentage Yield: 80%

Fiddlehead Fern

Identification: This spring vegetable is the early shoot of a fern, usually ostrich fern, harvested just as it emerges from the ground. It consists of a tightly curled stem lined with the tiniest beginnings of leaves. It is usually handled and cooked like tender asparagus.

Evaluation: Look for jade-green, firm and resilient, not wilted, fiddleheads with fresh-looking, not spoiled, cut ends and leaf tips.

Preparation: Trim the cut ends. Rinse well.

Percentage Yield: 85%

Figure 16.9

Peeling and crushing garlic.

Figure 16.9

Peeling and crushing garlic.

(a) Place the garlic on the worktable. Hold a (b) You can now peel the garlic easily.

broad knife blade over it as shown and strike it firmly with the palm of the hand.

(a) Place the garlic on the worktable. Hold a (b) You can now peel the garlic easily.

broad knife blade over it as shown and strike it firmly with the palm of the hand.

(c) Chop or mince the garlic.

(d) To make a paste of the garlic, sprinkle it with salt and mash it firmly with the back of the knife blade.

(c) Chop or mince the garlic.


(d) To make a paste of the garlic, sprinkle it with salt and mash it firmly with the back of the knife blade.

Identification: A pungent member of the onion family, garlic forms bunches of cloves attached at the root end and covered with a papery skin. Related Varieties: There are many varieties, with white or purplish skins. Some are more pungent than others. Elephant garlic is the size of an apple, with relatively few large cloves; it is milder than other garlics.

Evaluation: Skin may be white or pink. No brown spots, soft spots, or spoilage; dry skin; no green shoots.

Preparation: Separate cloves as needed, or strike whole bulb with heel of hand to separate.To peel cloves, crush slightly with side of heavy knife. Peel and trim root end (see Figure 16.9). Percentage Yield: 88%

Greens, Cabbage Family (Collards, Turnip Greens, Kale)

Identification: These sturdy, flavorful greens are nearly always cooked because they are too tough to eat raw, unless very young.The kale varieties have curly or ruffled dark green leaves (except the ornamental varieties,which may have touches of red or other colors).Turnip greens resemble large,lobed mustard or arugula leaves. Col-lards are similar, generally with heavier stems and more rounded leaves. Evaluation: Avoid browned, yellowed, or dried leaves. Look for smaller leaves that are dark green and have a moist feel.

Preparation: Strip the leaves off the stems if they are tough. Cut off any discolored parts.Wash well in several changes of water.

Percentage Yield: 80%

Collard greens

Turnip greens


Identification: Jicama (HEE kama) is a large, round tuber with a thin brown skin and crisp,mild,juicy,creamy white flesh similar to water chestnuts. Evaluation: Look for smooth, almost shiny skin with no blemishes. Preparation: Peel. Cut as desired. Percentage Yield: 85%


Identification: Kohlrabi, when trimmed, resembles a root vegetable, but it is actually a swollen stem.A member of the cabbage family, its pale white, crisp flesh re-sembles,in texture and flavor, the interior of a broccoli stem.The skin is tough and must be removed.

Related Varieties: Purple-skinned kohlrabi, except for the skin color, are similar to the more common green.

Evaluation: Look for uniform light green color; 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) in diameter. Crisp and firm. No woodiness.

Preparation: Peel like turnips, being sure to remove the full thickness of skin. Percentage Yield: 55%



Figure 16.10 Cleaning leeks.

Identification: A long, slender member of the onion family with distinctive flavor, milder than onions.

Related Varieties: Ramps are wild leeks with broad, flat leaves and bulbs that resemble those of scallions.They have a pungent,garlicky flavor.

Evaluation: Look for fresh green leaves; 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) of white.White part should be crisp and tender, not fibrous.

Preparation: Cut off roots and green tops. Cut deeply through white part, separate the layers slightly, and wash carefully to remove all embedded soil (see Figure 16.10). Percentage Yield: 50%

Figure 16.10 Cleaning leeks.

(a) Trim off the root end and as much of the green as desired.

(b) Make one or two deep cuts to within 1 in. (2.5 cm) of the root end.

(c) Spread apart the layers, as shown. Carefully wash out all embedded dirt under running water.

(a) Trim off the root end and as much of the green as desired.

(b) Make one or two deep cuts to within 1 in. (2.5 cm) of the root end.

(c) Spread apart the layers, as shown. Carefully wash out all embedded dirt under running water.


Identification: See Chapter 21 for full description of salad greens. Percentage Yield: 75%

Mushrooms, White

Identification: Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungus—that is, the part of the fungus that produces spores for reproduction.

Evaluation: Select firm, white caps, closed at the stem. Stems should be relatively short. No dark spots, bruises, or mold.

Preparation: Trim bottoms of stems.Just before cooking,wash quickly in cold water; drain well. If you desire to keep the mushrooms white, add a small amount of acid (lemon juice, vinegar, ascorbic acid) to the rinse water.To flute mushrooms, see Figure 16.11. Percentage Yield: 90%

White mushrooms

Figure 16.11

Basic methods for fluting mushrooms.

Figure 16.11

Basic methods for fluting mushrooms.

(a) Grasping the blade of a paring knife, hold the edge against the (b) The first cut is completed. center of the mushroom cap at a sharp angle.

(c) Continue making cuts all around the mushroom. (d) The fluted mushroom cap.

Mushrooms, Exotic and Wild Varieties

Identification: See pages 534-536.

Figure 16.12

To prepare okra, cut off the stem ends.

Figure 16.12

To prepare okra, cut off the stem ends.


Identification: Okra is the pod or fruit of a member of the mallow family. It is long and tapered, with ridges running its length. Inside the pod are tender seeds and a thick, sticky juice.The flavor is very mild.

Related Varieties: Common okra varieties are green. Red-skinned varieties, which turn green when cooked, are uncommon but available.

Evaluation: Look for tender, full pods, not dry or shriveled. Ridges should be soft. Seeds should be soft and white. Uniform color.

Preparation: Wash.Trim ends (see Figure 16.12). Slice or leave whole. Percentage Yield: 82%

Onions, Dry

Identification: A pungent, many-layered bulbous root that is the kitchen's most common vegetable.

Related Varieties: Onions come in almost limitless varieties, from tiny white, yellow, and red pearl onions and cipolline (chip oh lee neh, Italian pearl onions) to medium and large yellow onions, the workhorse of the kitchen, to large red and white onions. Mild varieties include Vidalia,Walla-Walla, and Maui.These are often said to be sweeter, but they do not contain more sugar than regular varieties. Rather, they have less of the chemical compounds that make onions strong. Evaluation: Select onions that are clean, hard, well shaped; no mold or black fungus; no green shoots. Skins should be very dry.

Preparation: Cut off root and stem ends. Peel.Wash. Cut or slice as needed (see Figure 7.10).

Percentage Yield: 90%

Yellow onions

Yellow onions

White onion

Red onions

Pearl onions

Red onions

Pearl onions

Onions, Green (Scallions)

Identification: These are very young, immature bulb onions, sold with their stems. Scallions are almost always white varieties of onions, although red varieties can sometimes be found.

Evaluation: Scallions should have fresh, crisp green tops; little or no bulb formation at white part.

Preparation: Cut off roots and wilted ends of green tops. Amount of green left on varies with recipe or use. Percentage Yield: 60-70%


Identification: Parsley is the most common fresh herb used in kitchens. It is used in such quantities that it is included here with vegetables.

Related Varieties: The two main varieties are curly parsley and flat or Italian parsley.

Evaluation: Select bright green,unwilted leaves with no rot. Preparation: Wash well and drain. Remove yellow leaves and large stems (save stems for stocks). Separate into sprigs for garnish, or chop leaves. Percentage Yield: 85%


Identification: The parsnip is a long, conical root vegetable that looks like a carrot, only more tapered and with a wider top. Its skin is tan and its interior is yellow-beige, with a distinctive, sweet flavor.

Evaluation: Look for firm, smooth, well-shaped parsnips, with light, uniform color. Large ones are often woody.

Preparation: Refrigerating for two weeks develops sweetness.Trim ends and peel. Rinse.

Percentage Yield: 70-75%

Pea Greens or Pea Shoots

Identification: These are the tender tips, with leaves, of pea vines, usually snow peas.

Evaluation: Look for fresh, medium-green leaves and tender, not woody, stems. Preparation: Wash well; trim ends of stems, especially if they are tough. Cook like spinach.

Percentage Yield: 90-95%

Peas, Green

Identification: The tender,immature seed of a legume (see Chapter 19). Evaluation: Look for firm, fresh, moderately filled-out pods. Peas lose sweetness quickly after harvest, so locally grown,just-harvested peas are best. Frozen peas are likely to be sweeter than fresh peas that have been stored for some time. Preparation: Shell and rinse. (Peas are not often purchased in the pod by food service operations because of the labor required for shelling.) Percentage Yield: 40%



Pea shoots

Peas, Edible Pod

Identification: Unlike shell peas, above, whose pods are too fibrous to be eaten, these peas have tender, edible pods and so are always served in the pod. Related Varieties: The two main varieties are the flat-podded snow pea,with tiny undeveloped seeds, and the rounder sugar pea or sugar snappea,with larger seeds. Evaluation: Look for fresh green color, crisp pods, no blemishes. Preparation: Remove stem end. Pull off strings at side veins.Wash. Percentage Yield: 90%

Peppers, Sweet

Identification: Peppers are the fruit of a plant related to tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes. Both sweet and hot peppers are members of the Capsicum family.They have fleshy walls and a hollow interior,with a seedy core just below the stem.Also called bell peppers.

Related Varieties: Green,red,yellow, orange, and purple peppers are widely available.

Evaluation: Shiny color;well shaped;no soft spots or shriveling. Preparation: Wash. Cut in half lengthwise and remove core, seeds, and white membranes. Peppers to be julienned or diced may have the interior ribs trimmed. Or leave whole (as for stuffed peppers) and cut out core from the end. Peppers are often roasted and peeled as preparation for use in recipes (see Figure 16.13). Percentage Yield: 82%

Green pepper

Snow peas

Sugar snap peas

Snow peas

Red pepper

Green pepper

Orange pepper

Yellow pepper

Orange pepper

Figure 16.13 Roasting peppers.

Figure 16.13 Roasting peppers.

(a) Roast the peppers over an open flame until the skins blacken. For large quantities, you may do this under a broiler or in a hot oven. In this case, the skins will not darken as much but can still be peeled off.

(b) Wrap the peppers in plastic film while they are still hot. This helps loosen the skins.

(c) Peel off the loosened skin. You may do this under running water to help rinse off charred skin, but some nutrients and flavor may be lost.

(a) Roast the peppers over an open flame until the skins blacken. For large quantities, you may do this under a broiler or in a hot oven. In this case, the skins will not darken as much but can still be peeled off.

(b) Wrap the peppers in plastic film while they are still hot. This helps loosen the skins.

(c) Peel off the loosened skin. You may do this under running water to help rinse off charred skin, but some nutrients and flavor may be lost.

Peppers, Hot, or Chiles

Identification: Relatives of sweet peppers, but containing a compound called capsaicin, which makes them spicy hot. (Chile is the original Spanish spelling; also spelled chili and chilli.)

Related Varieties: Many varieties are available worldwide.The heat of any particular pepper is determined by how much capsaicin it contains and is measured in Scoville units.A mildly hot jalapeno averages about 2,500-3,000 units, while the intensely hot habanero averages around 200,000 units. Commonly used fresh chiles include the jalapeno, serrano, poblano, California, New Mexico,Thai green, and cayenne.

Evaluation: See Peppers, Sweet.

Preparation: Larger fresh chile peppers, such as ancho,mulato, New Mexico, and Anaheim, are usually roasted and prepared like sweet peppers (see above). Small peppers, such as cayenne,jalapeno,and serrano, are usually chopped or sliced and used as seasoning. Remove core, veins, and seeds carefully; wear rubber gloves if you are sensitive to the hot oils, and avoid touching the eyes or any sensitive part of the skin after working with chiles.

Percentage Yield: 80-90%

Green cayenne chiles Italian hot peppers Jalapenos and cherry peppers

Potatoes, White

Identification: See Chapter 18. Percentage Yield: 80%

Sweet potato

Figure 16.14

Radishes can be cut into many decorative forms, including those shown here.

Figure 16.14

Radishes can be cut into many decorative forms, including those shown here.

Potatoes, Sweet

Identification: Sweet potatoes are any of several types of tubers, usually bulbous, with tapered or pointed ends.They are unrelated to potatoes and to yams. (True yams are an entirely different vegetable,with starchy white flesh.They are not often seen in North America, except in Hispanic and some other specialty markets.) Related Varieties: There are two basic groups of sweet potatoes, those with a creamy white or pale yellow flesh and those with orange flesh.The variety that has a moister, deeper orange flesh is sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as the yam. These varieties are interchangeable for most purposes. Skin colors range from beige to orange to red, depending on the variety.

Evaluation: Look for clean, dry surface. Firm, not shriveled or blemished. Fat, regular shapes are preferable because of less waste in trimming and portioning. Preparation: Scrub, boil, or steam, then peel. May be peeled before cooking but must be dipped in antioxidant to prevent discoloring. Machine paring is wasteful with irregular shapes. Percentage Yield: 80%


Identification: Crisp, juicy root vegetables in the mustard family, with a peppery taste.

Related Varieties: In North America and Western Europe,the word radish usually indicates the small, round or tapered, red-skinned and white-fleshed variety, or sometimes the white icicle radish. Other important radishes are the turnip-size black radish, eaten raw or cooked, and the very large,long Asian daikon (the name is Japanese for "big root"), with white skin and flesh, also served raw or cooked. Cooked radishes are somewhat like turnips both in flavor and texture.

Evaluation: Select firm, tender, crisp radishes,with good shape and color. Preparation: Cut off root and stem ends.Wash. Decorative cuts are shown in Figure 16.14.

Percentage Yield: 90%


Identification: See Turnip.


Identification: The name salsify (sal si fee) refers to either of two distantly related long, slender root vegetables with off-white flesh and a flavor, when cooked, that is sometimes said to resemble artichoke.

Related Varieties: True salsify, or white salsify, has brownish-white roots, often forked and branched, with many root hairs attached. Scorzonera (score tso nerra), or black salsify, is straight, long, and slender, with dark brown skin. Both have off-white flesh.

Evaluation: Select medium-size roots, as larger ones may be fibrous.They should be as smooth as possible.

Preparation: Scrub with a brush. Peel with a swivel peeler and immediately drop into water containing an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, to prevent discol-oration.Wear gloves to prevent staining the hands. Percentage Yield: 65-70%


Identification: Shallots are small,dry-skinned onions that grow in clusters attached at the root end.They have a brown, papery skin and white and purple flesh.Their flavor is milder than that of onions.

Evaluation: Same as for dry onions.

Preparation: Same as for dry onions.

Percentage Yield: Same as for dry onions.


Identification: A tender leafy green with a tart, astringent taste,used in small quantities, usually to flavor sauces.The leaf resembles spinach but is longer and not as dark green.

Evaluation: Same as for spinach.

Preparation: Pull off coarse stems.Wash in several changes of water if sandy. For most purposes, sorrel is cut into chiffonade (p. 139). Percentage Yield: 90%


Identification: Most soybeans are allowed to mature and dry and are harvested and processed as a grain.The use of tender,unripe soybeans,known as edamame (edd ah mah meh), is a popular adoption from Japanese cuisine.The small, fuzzy pods usually hold three light green, roundish beans. Evaluation: Same as shell beans.

Preparation: Rinse, boil in the pod until the beans are tender, and shell. Percentage Yield: 50%


Green Soybeans


Identification: A tender, dark green leaf, probably the most popular of leafy vegetables after lettuce.

Related Varieties: Two main types are curly-leafed and flat-leafed.

Evaluation: Look for fresh,crisp,dark green leaves.No rot or slime or badly bruised leaves.

Preparation: Remove stems and damaged leaves (Figure l6.15).Wash in several changes of water. Use a large quantity of water and lift spinach up and down to float off sand and dirt. Lift from water and drain well. Percentage Yield: 50-70%

Figure 16.15

When trimming spinach leaves, remove the heavy center rib along with the stem.

Figure 16.15

When trimming spinach leaves, remove the heavy center rib along with the stem.

Squash, Summer

Identification: Several types of tender-skinned members of the gourd family are called summer squash.They all have tender seeds in a firmly filled seed cavity,un-like the hard seeds encased in a fibrous mesh in the hollow interior of winter squash. Related Varieties: Green-skinned zucchini is well known and the most popular. Yellow straight and crookneck squashes are similar in flavor and use. Pattypan squash has a squat, round shape, slightly resembling the popular idea of a flying saucer.They can be yellow, dark green, or pale green. Many other types are available, but they are less common.

Evaluation: Look for firm, heavy, and crisp squash, with tender skins, no blemishes. Preparation: Wash or scrub well.Trim ends. Percentage Yield: 90%


Yellow summer squash

Spaghetti squash

Butternut squash

Acorn squash

Squash, Winter, including Pumpkin

Identification: Winter squash are mature members of the gourd family,with thick skins and hard seeds in a hollow cavity.They are starchier and less moist than summer squash and, unlike summer squash, are not generally eaten raw.

Related Varieties: Many types,of all sizes and shapes,are available,including Hub-bard, acorn, butternut, buttercup, kabocha, turban, delicata, sweet dumpling, and pumpkin. Spaghetti squash has a fibrous flesh that, when cooked and scraped out of the shell,resembles a tangled pile of spaghetti. Evaluation: Heavy and firm. Hard rind. No blemishes.

Preparation: Wash. Cut in half. Scrape out seeds and fibers. Cut into portion sizes. For pureed or mashed squash either steam or bake, then remove peel; or peel, dice, then steam.

Percentage Yield: 65-85%

Squash Blossoms

Identification: Young, yellow blossoms of any summer squash. Related Varieties: Female flowers are attached to the ends of new squashes.They fall off after the squash is a day or two old so must be harvested, attached to the tiny fruit, in a timely manner. Male blossoms contain the pollen and grow on a separate part of the same plant. Both types are used, often for stuffing, or simply sliced and sauteed.

Evaluation: Squash blossoms should be fresh and bright yellow, not wilted.They are best if used within a day or two of harvest.

Preparation: Open the flower petals gently and carefully rinse in water. Percentage Yield: 100%

Sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes

Identification: Sunchoke is a relatively new marketing term for a Jerusalem artichoke, created because the vegetable is not an artichoke and has nothing to do with Jerusalem. Sunchokes are knobby brown tubers with crisp, creamy white flesh. Evaluation: Look for firm sunchokes with clean brown skin, no soft or green spots, and no sprouts.

Preparation: Wash and peel off brown skin. Percentage Yield: 80%

Swiss Chard

Identification: A leafy green related to the beet. Chard leaves resemble beet greens, both in flavor and appearance, except the center stalks of chard are broader.

Related Varieties: Red-stemmed, white-stemmed, and yellow-stemmed chard are available.

Evaluation: Fresh,dark green color,not wilted. Crisp,not wilted or rubbery stalks. Preparation: Wash thoroughly.Trim ends of stalks. Remove leafy greens from stalks by cutting along the margins of the stalk down the center of the leaf. Center stalks may be cooked separately like asparagus. Percentage Yield: 85%


Identification: One of the most widely used vegetables, the fruit of a plant in the nightshade family, related to eggplant, potatoes, and peppers. Related Varieties: In addition to the common red slicing tomato and the small cherry tomato,dozens of varieties of heirloom tomatoes are grown and marketed. These come in all shades of red, pink, yellow, and green, all with somewhat different flavors.

Evaluation: Firm but not hard, with little or no green core. Smooth, without bruises, blemishes, cracks, or discoloration. If underripe,let stand two to three days at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

Preparation: For use with skin on: Wash,remove core.To peel: Plunge into boiling water for 10-20 seconds (riper tomatoes take less time). Cool immediately in ice water. Slip skins off and remove core. (Note: Many chefs core the tomatoes and cut a shallow x in the skin at the bottom before blanching in boiling water. Other chefs, wishing to avoid even the slightest loss of flavor and nutrients from the exposed flesh into the water, first blanch the tomatoes and then core them and pull off the skins,which slip off just as easily.) See Figure 16.16 for further techniques. Percentage Yield: 90% (peeled)

Red-stemmed Swiss chard
White-stemmed Swiss chard

Figure 16.16

Preparing tomato concassé.

Figure 16.16

Preparing tomato concassé.


Identification: A small green fruit vegetable resembling a green cherry tomato encased in a papery husk. It is not a tomato,although it is in the same family as tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes.Widely used in Mexican cuisine. Evaluation: Look for hard, dry tomatillos with tight husks. Preparation: Remove the husks and rinse. Percentage Yield: 95%

Turnips and Rutabagas

Identification: Root vegetables in the mustard family, related to cabbages.

Related Varieties: Turnips are white with purple skin around the stem end.The flesh is white. Rutabagas, also called swedes, are much larger and have yellow-orange flesh.

Evaluation: Look for roots that are firm and heavy, with good color and no blem-ishes.White turnips over 212 inches (6-7 cm) in diameter may be woody or spongy. Preparation: Peel heavily by hand or in machine to remove thick skin (see Figure l6.17).Rinse.

Percentage Yield: 75-80%

Figure 16.17 Peel rutabagas and turnips deeply enough to remove the full thickness of skin, as pointed out in this photograph.

Water Chestnuts

Identification: Water chestnuts are corms, or swollen underground stem bases, of plants that grow in moist, warm environments.They are small and roundish, with dark brown skin and crisp white flesh.

Evaluation: Look for solid water chestnuts with no sign of softness, bruising, rot, or shriveling.They spoil easily.

Preparation: Scrub well with a brush, as they are often muddy. Peel with a paring knife.

Percentage Yield: 75%


Identification: See discussion of salad greens in Chapter 21. Evaluation: Bright green, crisp,unbruised leaves. Preparation: Wash well. Remove heavy stems and discolored leaves. Percentage Yield: 90%

Continue reading here: Mushrooms A Special Topic

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