Underappreciated summer vegetables

Roasted okra chips

Summertime brings a plethora of vegetables. Many people eagerly await the first corn, tomatoes, and melons of the season. But as this articles explains, there are other great vegetables that get overlooked in the shadows of these more popular foods. Break out of your routine and try some of these delicious vegetables, starting with kohlrabi. Sometimes thought of as “the alien in the CSA box,” kohlrabi is “a versatile, nutrient-dense veggie. Naturally fat-free, it’s loaded with fiber, potassium and immune-boosting vitamin C. Crisp and juicy, it’s a member of the brassica family (such as cabbage and cauliflower) and actually has a similar flavor if eaten raw.”

Another underappreciated vegetable is okra, which has a reputation for being slimy. However, if prepared properly, okra can be a delight. It’s great sauteed with other summer vegetables, and wonderful if you “roast it, whole, with oil, salt, pepper and seasonings like smoked paprika. Browned and slightly crisp, you can eat it as is or add it to a salad or side dish.”

Kohlrabi and apple saladMustard greens, eggplant (aubergines), and cabbage round out the list of overlooked vegetables. Which of these (or which other underappreciated veg) is your favorite?

Photos of roasted okra chips and kohlrabi and apple salad from the EYB Library

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  • sir_ken_g  on  July 20, 2014

    Most of the better stands in our market are run my Hmongs. So they sometimes have some exotoc things. Thai eggplants, bitter melon, lemon grass. I like the last two but not the small round green eggplants which are quite bitter.

  • hillsboroks  on  July 20, 2014

    When I was a kid my father liked to grow all kinds of vegetables including kohlrabi. I have fond memories of him bringing some in from the garden and cutting it into sticks for us kids to eat raw. We all loved it that way but I honestly do not remember my mother cooking it for us. But she grew up in the Midwest and was not a big vegetable fan unless they came in a can.

  • Rinshin  on  July 20, 2014

    Okra is used a lot in Japanese cuisine. Another summer time vegetable not used much outside of Asia is goya or bitter melon. Goya and sea vegetable is often touted for long lifespan of Okinawans.

  • annieski  on  July 21, 2014


  • rlmiller  on  July 21, 2014

    Grilled okra, with a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of salt and smoked paprika is a wonderful appetizer. They cook quickly and so are perfect to grill early, then snack on while finishing cooking or grilling the rest of dinner.

  • ellabee  on  July 22, 2014

    Pickled okra are also excellent, especially the baby red ones, which turn the pickling liquid a lovely rose color. Nice accompaniment for cheese or pate on a cracker, which is all the "cooking" you want to do on some August evenings.

  • Foodycat  on  July 25, 2014

    I never liked okra until I had it in an Indian restaurant – it was crunchy and not at all slimy. Just delicious! Never been able to figure out how they get them like that though.

  • ellabee  on  July 25, 2014

    @Foodycat: Fried okra is crunchy, delicious, and not at all slimy; I'm betting the restaurant fried it. The southern US version involves dredging in corn meal; an Indian kitchen would probably use chickpea flour (besan).

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