The 5 Most Underrated Vegetables

Chayote-jicama slaw in tortillas.
Chayote-jicama slaw in tortillas.
Photo by norwichnuts

With fall headed our way, one of my favorite things to do in cooler temperatures is to roast vegetables. Breakfast, lunch or dinner; it doesn't matter. Heating up my old oven long enough to roast sweet potatoes or brussels sprouts isn't such a bad thing when it's cool outside and I actually enjoy it warming up the whole house.

So many vegetables that people either abjectly dislike or don't really consider can be improved by roasting, the high temperatures caramelizing the natural sugars in things like carrots or butternut squash. Below is a list of veggies that are underrated for one reason or another, why you should try them and how to do it.

5. Jicama

Not a vegetable that can be improved by roasting, jicama has a high water content that makes it a cross between water chestnuts and pears in terms of texture. The root vegetable has no real taste, however, save a vaguely sweet hint that makes it an ideal ingredient to add to chopped salads or dishes like Texas caviar -- really anything that could benefit from some extra crunch -- or to slip to children who are fussy eaters as a snack. But if it doesn't taste like anything, why eat it? Because jicama is very high in vitamin C and dietary fiber, two things we can all use more of in our diets. Also, you can make vampire teeth out of them.

Rutabaga mash with poblano, cilantro and olive oil.
Rutabaga mash with poblano, cilantro and olive oil.
Photo by sizeofguam

4. Rutabaga

When stored properly (between 32 and 35 degrees and at about 90 percent humidity), the noble rutabaga can last up to six months. These hearty and wholly underappreciated root veggies are also known as "swede" in England, where they're slightly more popular and where I first developed an appreciation of them. Dice a rutabaga into large chunks and boil it until tender, then mash it as you would a potato. They're also good mashed into a melange of boiled root vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, turnips and rutabagas make an unforgettable side dish that's earthy, sweet and slightly tart. They're high in fiber, vitamins A and C and potassium.

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