I Tried 4 New-to-Me Vegetables and Here’s What I Thought

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Anna Goldfarb)

Welcome to our Healthy Habit Challenge! Instead of focusing on (impossible-to-keep) New Year’s resolutions, we challenged four writers to start a new healthy habit. These challenges aren’t about cutting out sugar or going on a diet, or focused on the negative. They’re about doing something new and good — and making it second-nature. Here’s how they went.

Until recently, I filled my grocery cart with the same four fruits and vegetables again and again (and again). Do not judge! There are reasons we go back to the same foods over and over (and over). But my resolution for the new year was to shake things up a bit and expand my shopping bag’s horizons, so I approached my healthy habit challenge with enthusiasm (and some trepidation).

My experience trying exotic fruits was educational, but I didn’t really discover anything that beat my Honeycrisp apple. Would my foray into unknown vegetables prove more, um, fruitful?

I Tried 4 New-to-Me Vegetables and Here’s What I Thought

At the farmers market one morning, I picked up this handsome trio of veggies: rutabaga, romanesco broccoli, and a bulb of kohlrabi. The haul only cost me a couple of bucks, which made me and my wallet happy.

(Image credit: Anna Goldfarb)

First up was the rutabaga. I shaved off the skin, trimmed the long wispy pieces, and diced it into small cubes. I like parsnips, so I was hoping it’d have a similar taste. To my delight, it did! Roasting the rutabaga was a great way to go. I added a grind of fresh pepper and a pinch of truffle salt to round out the flavor. It was heavenly!

(Image credit: Anna Goldfarb)

Romanesco is known for its gorgeous fractal patterns. It’s almost too pretty to eat. After 30 minutes under the broiler, I garnished it with a few shards of Parmesan cheese. It was fabulous! The burnt, crunchy bits were a delight, and the cheese added a pleasant salty sharpness.

(Image credit: Anna Goldfarb)

Not knowing what to do with the massive kohlrabi bulb, I chopped it up and roasted it too. On its own the flesh is firm and juicy, but roasting made the kohlrabi mellow, soft, and sweet. I plowed through the plate, quite happy with my effort.

(Image credit: Anna Goldfarb)

By now, I was getting used to searching out new produce. During a trip to Whole Foods, I grabbed a small bunch of rainbow beets. I trimmed them, diced them, and then roasted them with a little salt and pepper.

Truthfully, while the array of colors was pretty, the red beets overpowered the lot and turned everything red. And they all tasted like regular ol’ beets, which made me a little disappointed. I guess I was hoping it’d be a new taste sensation. (“Rainbow beets: Just like regular beets, but slightly lighter” — their motto, probably.)

What I Learned from Trying New Veggies

Unlike fancy fruits, vegetables got two thumbs up! I’m always looking for new sides during weeknight meals and I’d be happy to incorporate any of these guys into my regular lineup (including the beets). Plus, my experience has given me a new life philosophy: When in doubt, roast.

As for the overall experience, will it change my shopping habits? Perhaps! I was certainly glad I did it. This challenge opened my eyes as to how much variety is available in the supermarket. Instead of opting for the same-old items, I’m now more aware of how robust the produce department is!

But trying a bunch of new items every store visit was intense. Moving forward, I think I’ll aim to buy one new item each trip. That seems more reasonable.

Have you ever tried to mix up your fruit and vegetable shopping habits? How’d it go? Tell us in the comments!