For Vegans & Vegetarians! “Forgotten” Vegetables 1~24



Organic agriculture and biodiversity have in recent years brought about a rediscovery of many “forgotten” vegetables that people especially in Europe and France conscientiously tried to forget as they reminded them of the privations suffered during WWII. The same people had then to make do with untraditional vegetables because potatoes, carrots and so on were confiscated by occupying forces or their own armies.
With sustainibility and bioagriculture made more important by the deficiencies of modern mass agriculture, those “forgotten” vegetables have suddenly come to the fore for the pleasure of all, and that of course of vegetarians and vegans!

This particular series of postings will introduce these vegetables one by one. I hope they will become useful for a long time to come to all my vegan and vegetarian friends!



Scorsonere, or oyster plant, is a close cousin of the salsify and even of the burdock root.
The main difference is the dark brown/black colour of its skin.
Their history is the same. They are both found in the wild, especially along the Mediteranean Sea.
Scorsonere lost its popularity mainly because it is a chore to peel them, adde to the fact that the sap tends to stain hands. Moreover, they take a long time to cook.

Scorsonere seeds are planted in March~May in soil, spaced 25 cm from each other. Keep the soil clean leaving only one plant every 10 cm. Keep the soil cool (as opposite to hot and dry). Cover with straw in hot weather. If a flower stem appears, cut it to fortify the root.
The plant can stay up to 3 years in soil.
Soil must must be cool, deep and well manured.
harvest is conducted from October to march according to needs.

Scorsonere beignets/fritters

Once properly cooked, they are very tender and sweet, reminiscent of oysters as their English name indicates, as well of asparaguses and artichokes.
They are great cold in salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette, glazed like carrots, deep-fried as beignets, or cooked again with fresh cream, tomato sauce, parmegianno and herbs!
2) Potimarron


Potimarron, or Cucurbita maxima, Duchesne, 1786 in Latin, is a variety of Potiron,pumpkin, actually nearer to the Japanese kabcha that our big things growing before Halloween.
Talking of kabocha, the Japanes have started ptimarron to the extent that they call it Hokkaido squash!


This cousin of cucumbers has its own characteristic taste, very reminiscent of chestnuts.
Its colour is usually deep orange-red, but can be found in pink, bronce or green colours through mutation.
Although it has been grown for a long time in the Far Esat, especially in Hokkaido, Japan, its origin is American.
But the main reason why it is grown in Europe and Japan is not so much the taste, which is great, but the incredible amount of beta-caroten, a vitamin essential for fighting ageing!

Potimarron Mashe/hash

Moreover Potimarron is very ric in Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and oligo-elements (Phosporus, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, silicium, sodim…), amino acids and unsaturated fat amino, and natural sugars.

The longer the fruit is preserved inside a dry cellar, the nore its vitamins and sugars increase!

Growers have noticed that after extracted the seeds by hand, the skin of their hands stayed soft for two days as if they were coated with wax!

Potimarron soup

Naturally potimarron, like pumpkins can be prepared in numerous ways: has/mash, soups,

Potimarron Tart!

Potimarron Mousse!

and of course tarts, mousse, Japanese cakes/wagashi as desserts, or in pies, or baked with garlic!


Vitelotte (also called Negrèsse or Truffle de Chine in French) is an ancient (quite like an heirloom rose) cultivar of blue-violet potato.

Originally from Peru and Bolivia, the Vitelotte variety is still commonly grown there. It is supposed that they are a 200 year old mix of ancient types of Peruvian potatoes.

Vitelotte potatoes have a dark, almost black skin and dark violet-blue flesh thanks to a high content of the natural pigment anthocyanin. They retain their colour when cooked. The plants mature late and compared to modern varieties produce a fairly low yield. The tubers have a thick skin and thus store well.

Vitelotte chips

Its colour allows for spectacular dishes, taking in account that the colour blue is not common in gastronomy (except for cakes!)

Vitelotte Millefeuille

Combined with other vegetables of different colours, they certainly look attractive!

Mashed vitelotte

Not only its colour but also its hazlenut-like flavour makes it popular with chefs!

Vitelotte soup

It’s a bit difficult to peel, and when boiled a bit floury.
In soups, you can sieve it and combine with fresh cream and serve hot or cold as vichyssoise, but chips are probably the most popilar way to present and consume them!
4) Rutabagas

Rutabaga roasted with Honey


The rutabaga, swede (from Swedish turnip), or yellow turnip (Brassica napobrassica, or Brassica napus var. napobrassica) is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. Its leaves can also be eaten as a leaf vegetable.

Prior to pumpkins being readily available in the UK and Ireland (a relatively recent development), swedes were hollowed out and carved with faces to make lanterns for Halloween. Often called “jack o’lanterns”, or “tumshie lanterns” in Scotland, they were the ancient symbol of a damned soul!

Roasted rutabagas

Rutabagas were an important nutritional source for many Finno-Ugric tribes before the introduction of potatoes. Some claim the vegetable is native to Sweden, but others think it was introduced to Sweden, possibly from Finland or Siberia, in the early 17th century. From Sweden, it reached Scotland, and from there it spread to the rest of Great Britain and to North America.

In continental Europe, it acquired a bad reputation during World War I, when it became a food of last resort. In the German Steckrübenwinter (rutabaga winter) of 1916–17, large parts of the population were kept alive on a diet consisting of rutabagas and little else, after grain and potato crop failures had combined with wartime effects. After the war, most people were so tired of rutabagas that they came to be considered “famine food,” and they have retained this reputation to the present day. As a consequence, they are rarely planted in Germany.

Rutabaga Cream.

On the other hand rutabaga is foing through a kind of boom in France where famous chefs have readily adopted them and given the vegetable its “lettre de noblesse”/nobility image!

Rutabaga Fries!

Choose firm and well-rounded specimens.
All the potato recipes can be applied to the rutabaga.
Its yeloow sweet flsh tastes something between turnip and cabbage.

Other preparations according to the countries:

Finns cook swede/rutabaga in a variety of ways; roasted to be served with meat dishes, as the major ingredient in the ever popular Christmas dish Swede casserole (“lanttulaatikko”), as a major flavor enhancer in soups, uncooked and thinly julienned as a side dish or in a salad, baked, or boiled. Finns use swede in most dishes that call for any root vegetable.

Swedes and Norwegians cook swede with potatoes and carrots and mash them with butter and cream or milk to create a puree called “rotmos” (root mash) and “kålrot/kålrabistappe” in Swedish and Norwegian, respectively. Onion is occasionally added. In Norway, kålrabistappe is an obligatory accompaniment to many festive dishes, including smalahove, pinnekjøtt, raspeball and salted herring.

In Wales, a similar dish produced using just potatoes and swede is known as “potch”.

In Scotland, swede and potatoes are boiled and mashed separately to produce “tatties and neeps” (“tatties” being the Scots word for potatoes), traditionally served with the Scottish national dish of haggis as the main course of a Burns supper. Neeps may also be mashed with potatoes to make clapshot. Regional variations include the addition of onions to clapshot in Orkney. Neeps are also extensively used in soups and stews.

In Yorkshire and Lincolnshire/England, swedes are often mashed together with carrots as part of the traditional Sunday roast.

In Canada rutabagas are used as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake, or as a side dish with Sunday dinner in Atlantic Canada.

In the US rutabagas are mostly eaten as part of stews or casseroles, served mashed with carrots, or baked in a pasty.
5) Cardon

Cardon before cooking

The cardon or cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), also called the artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni or cardi, is a thistle-like plant which is member of the Aster family, Asteraceae; (or archaic: Daisy family, Compositae). It is a naturally occurring variant of the same species as the Globe artichoke, and has many cultivated varieties. It is native to the Mediterranean, where it was domesticated in ancient times.

Cardon plant

The cardon was popular in Greek and Roman cuisine. Cardons remained popular in medieval and early modern Europe, and were common in the vegetable gardens of colonial America. They fell from fashion only in the late nineteenth century. In Europe, Cardon is still cultivated in Provence, Spain and Italy. In the Geneva region, where Huguenot refugees introduced it about 1685, the local variety Cardy is considered a culinaric specialty.

Cardon stalks can be covered with small, nearly invisible spines that can cause substantial pain if they become lodged in the skin. Several “spineless” cultivars have been developed to overcome this but care in handling is recommended for all types.

While the flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid. Battered and fried, the stems are also traditionally served at St. Joseph’s altars in New Orleans.

The stalks, which look like large celery stalks, can be served steamed or braised. They have an artichoke-like flavor. Cardons are available in the market only in the winter months. In the U.S.A., it is rarely found in stores, but available in farmers’ markets, where it is available through May, June, and July. The main root can also be boiled and served cold. Acclaimed chef Mario Batali calls the cardon one of his favorite vegetables and says they have a “very sexy flavor.” LOL

Cardon Cream
Cardons are used as a vegetarian source of enzymes for cheese production. In Portugal, traditional coagulation of the curd relies entirely on this vegetable rennet. This results in cheeses such as the Nisa (D.O.P.), with a peculiar earthy, herbaceous and a slightly citric flavour that bears affinitty with full-body or fortified wines.

Cardons are also an ingredient in one of the national dishes of Spain, the Cocido Madrileno, a slow-cooking, one-pot, meat and vegetable dinner simmered in broth, cardoons are traditional in the cocidos of Madrid.

Cardon requires a long, cool growing season (ca. 5 months) but it is frost-sensitive. It also typically requires substantial growing space per plant and hence is not much grown save where it is a regional favorite.

The cardoon is highly invasive and is able to adapt to dry climates. It has become a major weed in the pampas of Argentina and California; it is also considered a weed in Australia.
6) Panais/Parsnips


The panais (French) or parsnip (English) is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most of them and have a stronger flavor.

Panais confits


Like carrots, parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times. Zohary and Hopf note that the archeological evidence for the cultivation of the parsnip is “still rather limited,” and that Greek and Roman literary sources are a major source about its early use, but warn “there are some difficulties in distinguishing between parsnip and carrot (which, in Roman times, were white or purple) in classical writings since both vegetables seem to have been sometimes called pastinaca yet each vegetable appears to be well under cultivation in Roman times.” As pastinache comuni the “common” pastinaca figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by Bonvesin de la Riva in his “Marvels of Milan” (1288).

Panais and carrots soup


While folk etymology sometimes assumes the name is an English portmanteau of parsley and turnip, it actually comes from Latin pastinum, a kind of fork, whose ending was changed to -nip by analogy with turnip because it was assumed to be a kind of turnip. It is among the closest relatives of parsley, which can be bred to develop a very parsnip-like root.

Panais gratin


Panais are not grown in warm climates, since frost is necessary to develop their flavor. The panais is a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons. Sandy, loamy soil is preferred; silty, clay, and rocky soils are unsuitable as they produce short, forked roots.

Seeds can be planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Harvesting can begin in late fall after the first frost, and continue through winter until the ground freezes over.

More than almost any other vegetable seed, panais seed significantly deteriorates in viability if stored for long, so it is advisable to use fresh seed each year.

Grilled panais

The parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. 100 g of parsnip contains 55 Calories of energy.

Panais pot au feu

Until the potato arrived from the New World, its place in dishes was occupied by the panais and other root vegetables such as the turnip. Panais can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles.

Panais mash/Puree

In some cases, the panais is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root and contributing starch to thicken the dish. Roasted panais is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English-speaking world and frequently features in the traditional Sunday Roast. Panais can also be fried, or can be eaten raw, although raw parsnips are not frequently consumed.

Panais Tagliatelle

Like a lot of vegetables, the recipes are endless as panais can be easily combined with numerous other ingredients and dishes!

Choose them small as they will contain less fibers.
Those which were submitted to a cold wave in the fields are the best as they have become sweeter.
If you eat them raw like carrots, add lemon juice to them, or their colour will change!
7) Patisson/Patty Squash


Patisson (French), or Pattypan squash, Sunburst Squash or White squash (English) or Scallopini or Button Squash in Australian English, is a summer squash (species Cucurbita pepo) notable for its small size, round and shallow shape, and scalloped edges, somewhat resembling a small toy top, or flying saucer.


The name “pattypan” derives from “a pan for baking a patty.”

Patisson Salad

Its French name, “pâtisson,” derives from a Provençal word for a cake made in a scalloped mould. The pattypan squash is also known as cymling, scallop squash, custard marrow, or custard squash.


Pattypan comes in yellow, green, and white varieties. The squash is most tender when relatively immature; it is generally served when it is no more than two to three inches in diameter.

Patisson Soup

In fine cuisine, its tender flesh is sometimes scooped out and mixed with flavorings such as garlic prior to reinsertion; the scooped-out husk of a pattypan also is sometimes used as a decorative container for other foods.

They can be prpared like courgettes/zuchini. Their taste is reminscent of the artichoke.
The smallest are the best!

Pattypan is a good source of magnesium, niacin, and vitamins A and C. One cup contains approximately 20 to 30 calories and no fat. It is often sliced, coated and fried until golden brown.
8) Topinambour/Jerusalem Artichoke


The topinambour or Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called the sunroot or sunchoke or earth apple, is a species of sunflower native to the eastern United States, from Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.

At a European market

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1.5–3 m tall.

The leaves are opposite on the lower part of the stem, alternate higher up; the larger leaves on the lower stem are broad ovoid-acute and can be up to 30 cm long, the higher leaves smaller and narrower; they have a rough, hairy texture.

The flowers are yellow, produced in flowerheads 5–10 cm diameter, with 10–20 ray florets, and are thought to smell like milk chocolate.

The tubers are gnarly and uneven, typically 7.5–10 cm long and 3–5 cm thick, and vaguely resembling ginger root, with a crisp texture when raw; they vary in color from pale brown to white, red or purple.

Topinambour Carpaccio Mi-cuit


Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relation to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke, even though both are members of the Daisy family. The origin of the name is uncertain. European settlers called the plant Girasole, the Italian word for sunflower. (The Jerusalem artichoke is a type of sunflower, in the same genus as the garden sunflower Helianthus annuus.) Over time the name Girasole may have been corrupted to Jerusalem. To avoid confusion some people have recently started to refer to it as sunchoke or sunroot.

The artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke’s name comes from the taste of its edible tuber. Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, sent the first samples of the plant to France, noting that its taste was similar to an artichoke.

Topinambour & Carrots Savoury


Jerusalem artichokes were first cultivated by the Native Americans (who called them “sun roots”[citation needed]) long before the arrival of the Europeans; this extensive cultivation makes the exact native range of the species obscure.[1] The French explorer Samuel de Champlain found them being grown at Cape Cod in 1605. The Jerusalem artichoke was titled ‘best soup vegetable’ in the 2002 Nice festival for the heritage of the French cuisine.

Topinambour Salad


Unlike most tubers, but in common with other members of the Asteraceae (including the artichoke), the tubers store the carbohydrate inulin (not to be confused with insulin) instead of starch. For this reason, Jerusalem artichoke tubers are an important source of fructose for industry. The crop yields are high, typically 16–20 tonnes/ha for tubers, and 18–28 tonnes/ha green weight for foliage. Jerusalem artichoke also has a great deal of unused potential as a producer of ethanol fuel, using inulin-adapted strains of yeast for fermentation.

Jerusalem artichokes are easy to cultivate, which tempts gardeners to simply leave them completely alone to grow. However the quality of the edible tubers degrades unless the plants are dug up and replanted in fertile soil. This can be a chore, as even a small piece of tuber will grow if left in the ground, making the hardy plant a potential weed.

Topinambour Tajine

The tubers, which resemble ginger root, have a consistency much like potatoes, and in their raw form have a similar taste to potatoes except they are crunchier and sweeter with a slightly nutty taste.

Topinambour Veloute

Jerusalem artichokes have 650 mg. potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving. They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.

Best season for purchase and cooking is October~March!

In the Baden-Württemberg, Germany, over 90 percent of the Jerusalem artichoke root is used to produce a spirit called “Topinambur”, “Topi” or “Rossler”!


Crosne tuber

Crosne (Stachys affinis), otherwise known as the Chinese artichoke, knotroot, or artichoke betony, is an herbaceous perennial plant of the family Lamiaceae.


Although its edible tuber can be grown as a root vegetable, it is a rare sight in the garden. From a cultivation standpoint this is rather odd — the plant is easy to grow, requiring neither staking nor earthing-up. The reason that it is so unpopular is the nature of the tubers — small, convoluted and indented, so that it is the cook rather than the gardener or the family who finds this vegetable frustrating. The thin skin is of whitish-brown or ivory-white. The flesh underneath, under proper cultivation, is white and tender. It is in season generally commencing with October.

The flavor of the tubers is delicate and delicious — they can be treated as topinambour/jerusalem artichokes in cooking. It is used as a vegetable, in salad compositions, but more so as a garnish.

In China, the Chinese artichoke is used primarily for pickling.

Japanese Chorogi

Its tuber is a part of Osechi cooked for celebrating Japanese New Year. Dyed red by leaves of red shiso after pickled, it is called Chorogi. In French cuisine, its cooked tuber is often served alongside dishes named japonaise or Japanese-styled.

It was introduced in France in 1882 by a retired French industry businessman called Auguste Pailleux, who had a passion for gardening and unusual plants which could be used for food.

Crosne City

Crosne was adopted as the name of his birthplace in 1960!
He planted them in his garden in the Essone near Paris and has his neighbours taste them. Their taste halfway between salsify and artichoke became an instant success!
The very following year they could be bought at the local food stands/markets!
But They soon fell out of favour, being too difficult to peel.

It has regained popularity since then and is mainly cultivated in France in Val de Loire, around Paris, in Bretagne, Bourgogne and Somme (northern France).

Roasted Mushrooms and Crosnes Salad

They are presently sold over the counter pre-washed.
Blanchir/fry them over a hot fire for 2 minutes first. Then you can decline them into all kinds of dishes including cream, soup, mashed, fritters, etc.

Fried crosnes with cumin


Cerfeuil Tubereux (French) or Chaerophyllum bulbosum (Latin) is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family known by several common names, including turnip-rooted chervil, tuberous-rooted chervil, bulbous chervil, and parsnip chervil. It is native to Europe and western Asia. This is a tall annual herb with fringelike divided leaves and large umbels of white flowers.

Cerfeuil Tubereux chips

The plant is cultivated on a small scale in parts of Europe for the edible root, which looks like a dark gray carrot with yellowish-white flesh.
After harvest it is stored for a few months, during which time the sugar content increases via hydrolysis of starch by amylases.

Sauteed Cerfeuil tubereux

Storage also allows the development of the root’s flavor, which is reminiscent of chestnut. The root is prepared by boiling.
Actually all potato recipes can be applied to cerfeuil tubereux!

The reason it is rare is because it is difficult to plant and that they require 5 months storage for better taste!


Organic agriculture and biodiversity have in recent years brought about a rediscovery of many “forgotten” vegetables that people especially in Europe and France conscientiously tried to forget as they reminded them of the privations suffered during WWII. The same people had then to make do with untraditional vegetables because potatoes, carrots and so on were confiscated by occupying forces or their own armies.
With sustainibility and bioagriculture made more important by the deficiencies of modern mass agriculture, those “forgotten” vegetables have suddenly come to the fore for the pleasure of all, and that of course of vegetarians and vegans!

This particular series of postings will introduce these vegetables one by one. I hope they will become useful for a long time to come to all my vegan and vegetarian friends!
1) Scorsonere/Oyster Plant
3) Vitelotte
4) Rutabaga
5) Cardon
6) Panais/Parsnips
7) Patisson
8) Topinambour
9) Crosne
10) Cerfeuil Tubereux

Poiree is regaining a lot of favour these days, as far as in Japan. It is a herb vegetable which can eaten in two different ways, depending if you use the leafy part or the harde central stem part.

Its Latin name is Beta vulgaris, whereas it is called bette à cardes, blette, poirée à cardes in French,Schnittmangold in German, spinach beet or foliage beet in English and remolacha de mesa in Spanish.

This plant is a variant of the maritime beet (Beta vulgaris L. subsp. maritima (L.) Arcang. in Latin) which grows spontaneously along European shores.

Poirée is bi-annual (it takes two to mature) and cultivated for its leaves. These are large and their central part can come into many colours, making them very attractive for salads (after boiling) and other preparations:

Yellow Poiree

Orange Poiree

Pink Poiree

Red Poiree

Green Berac Poiree

Green Swiss Poiree

Lucullus Poiree

The leaves can be prepared eaten like spinach, whereas the stems after being cut and cooked can prepared in gratin, tarts, quiches, raviolis and soups.
12) OCA


Oca or Oca du Perou in French or Oxalis tuberosa in Latin is an annual plant that overwinters as underground stem tubers. These tubers are known as oca , oka or New Zealand Yam. The plant was brought into cultivation in the central and southern Andes for its tubers which are used as a root vegetable. The plant is not known in the wild.

The stem tubers of oca form in the ground in the autumn. These are commonly boiled before eating although they may also be eaten raw. The leaves and young shoots can be eaten as a green vegetable. Introduced to Europe in 1830 as a competitor to the potato and to New Zealand as early as 1860, it has become popular in that country under the name New Zealand yam and is now a common table vegetable there although it was practically abandonned in France, Europe and North America. It is also widely known in the Polynesian islands of the South Pacific under the name yam.


The flavour is slightly tangy, and texture ranges from crunchy (like a carrot) when undercooked, to starchy or mealy when fully cooked. Though the original Andean varieties are widely variable in colour from purple to yellow, the usual New Zealand variety is a fleshy pink.

Oca can be boiled, baked or fried. In the Andes it is used in stews and soups, served like potatoes or can be served as a sweet. Oca is eaten raw in Mexico with salt, lemon and hot pepper.


Not only the tubers, but also the leaves are edible.

Oca is one of the important staple crops of the Andean highlands, second only to the potato due to its easy propagation, and tolerance for poor soil, high altitude and harsh climates.

Ocas need a long growing season, and are day length dependent, forming tubers when the day length shortens in the autumn. In areas with harsh winter climates, early frosts may cut back the foliage before the tubers have a chance to form. In tropical areas where the days are unchanging in length, oca will not set a crop successfully.

Oca and Quinoa (Courtesy of Blogbio)

Ocas are fairly high in oxalates, concentrated in the skin, and traditional Andean preparation methods were geared towards reducing the oxalate level of the harvested vegetable. This is done by exposure to sunlight which increases the glucose content and sweet taste of the oca. Recent oca cultivars have a lower oxalate content, and have also been selected for more flexibility in day lengths.

In Ireland during the 19th Century, following the potato famine, many people suggested to grow Peruvian Oca, but the project was quickly abandonned due to insufficient yields.
13) Ulluque/Ulluco


The Ulluque (French), Ulluco (Spanish), or Ullucus tuberosus (Latin) is a plant grown primarily as a root vegetable, secondarily as a leaf vegetable.

Ulluque Tubers

The Ulluque is one of the most widely grown and economically important root crops in the Andean region of South America, second only to the potato. It is known there with the common name of papa lisa, but also by the regional names melloco (Ecuador), olluco (Peru, chugua (Colombia) or ruba (Venezuela). The leaf and the tuberous root are edible, similar to spinach and the potato, respectively. They are known to contain high levels of protein, calcium, and carotene. Papalisa were originally used and discovered by the Incas.

The origin and development of the ullucu in the cold climates of the Andes suggest that it is one of the crops most suited to the complex agro-ecology of areas between 3000 and 4000 m. Although the precise role of hybridization, introgression and mutation in the ullucu is not known, these must have acted—along with natural and human selection pressure—to favour the plant’s distribution and adaptation to the various types of Andean climate and soils.

Ulluque Leaves

Oblong and thinly shaped, they grow to be only a few inches long. Varying in color, papalisa potatoes may be orange/yellow in color with red/pink/purple freckles. In Bolivia, they grow to be very colorful and decorative, though with their sweet and unique flavor they are rarely used for decoration.

The major appeal of the ulluco is its crisp texture which, like the jicama, remains even when cooked. Because of its high water content, the ulloco is not suitable for frying or baking but it can be cooked in many other ways like the potato. In the pickled form, it is added to hot sauces.

Cocido Boyacense (Courtesy of Gastrononia & Cia)

It is a basic ingredient together with the cubio in the typical Colombian dish cocido boyacense. They are generally cut into thin strips.

Oblong and thinly shaped, they grow to be only a few inches long. Varying in color, papalisa potatoes may be orange/yellow in color with red/pink/purple freckles. In Bolivia, they grow to be very colorful and decorative, though with their sweet and unique flavor they are rarely used for decoration.
14) Tigernuts, Amande de Terre


Tigernuts or chufa flatsedge in English, amande de terre (earth almond!), choufa, noix tigrée, souchet comestible in French, Chufa in Sapnish, Zigolo dolce in Italian or Yellow Nutsedge in the US, Cyperus esculentus does have many names!


Very popular in Spain, theplant is a cousin of the papyrus.
It produces small 2~3 cm tubers/rhyhomes in Autumn.
Once dried thay can be safely kept for years.


In Spain they are fermented into a celebrated drink with an almond taste called Hochata!

Many people eat them raw as snacks or griilled or in salads with a drink, too!

Before re-planting them April~May, let them in lukewarm water for 48 hours. They need quite some watering, especially during dry seasons.

Harvest are conducted from end of Otober to the beginning of November by pulling out the whole plant . Preserve them in a cold place.

It is also used in place of almonds in cakes.
15) Capucine Tubereuse-Maschua


The Capucine tubereuse (French), Maschua (Inca) or Tropaeolum tuberosum (Latin) is a very old tuber originally grown on the high plateaux of Peru and around Titicaca Lake.

2m high, it is mainly used for its flowers as a decorative plant.
It blooms from July to Autumn. The seeds are formed at the same time.


It was already grown and eaten by the pre-Incas 5.500 years BC.
It gives out fairly good yields.

Maschua has recently become popular in France and Belgium for its tubers.
They can be eaten like potatoes.
Its peppery taste (it contains mustard oils) is not always appreciated.
This peppery taste disappears upon freezing or long boiling.
The taste is best when the tubers are harvested after the first frosts.
In Bolivia and Peru the tubers are also eaten with molasses and frozen as a dessert.

The young leaves can be eaten as a green vegetable, either raw or cooked.
The flowers can be eaten raw and have a sweet taste ending up on a peppery note.
16) Chataigne de Terre/ Great Pignut

(Courtesy: Jean-Luc de Belgique)

The Chataigne de Terre (Earth Chestnut in French) or Bunium bulbocastanum in latin is a truly rare vegetable, even in Europe where gardeners, more than farmers, grow it in France and Belgium notably.

Its other names include: terre noix, marron de terre, gland de terre, moinson (French), Erdkastanie (German) ; bulbo castaño (Spanish) ; bulbocastano comune (Portuguese) great pignut (English) and aardkastanje (Dutch).


It is an ombrelliferea and is also cultivated as a decoration garden plant.

The plant, wit comparatively few leaves can reach a height of 30~70 cm (1~2 feet).
It blossoms in Autumn with beautiful white flowers.
After seeds have been formed, the arial part of the plant will dry out.
It is then than one can find many tuber-like (they are not true tubers) nodules coming out of the roots when the whole plant is pulled out the earth.

These can be eaten raw after being washed in clear cold running water.
They have a distinctive chestnut taste and are greatly appreciated as a snack (for aperitif!)

They also become an ingredient for the German Liqueur called Kummel!


Yacon is another example of a forgotten vegetables rapidly getting popular in Japan, where it is very cheap!

The Yacón is a perennial plant grown in the Andes of Perú for its crisp, sweet-tasting tubers. The texture and flavour have been described as a cross between a fresh apple and watermelon which is why it is sometimes referred to as the apple of the earth. The tuber is composed mostly of water and fructo-oligosaccharides. It has recently been introduced into farmer’s markets and natural food stores in the US.


Although sometimes confused with jicama, yacón is actually a close relative of the sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke. The plants produce propagation roots and storage tubers. Propagation roots grow just under the soil surface and produce new growing points that will become next year’s aerial parts. These roots resemble Jerusalem artichokes. Storage tubers are large and edible.


These edible tubers contain inulin, an indigestible sugar, which means that although they have a sweet flavour, the tubers contain fewer calories than would be expected.

Yacón plants can grow to over 2 meters in height and produce small, yellow inconspicuous flowers at the end of the growing season. Unlike many other root vegetables domesticated by the Indigenous Peoples of the Andes (olluco, oca), the yacón is not photoperiod sensitive, and can produce a commercial yield in the tropics.


Yacon Leaves

Yacón provides for two nutritional products the yacón syrup and yacón tea. Both products are popular among diabetic people and dieters who consume these products because of its low sugar properties.


Japanese Yakon Salad

Yacón can easily be grown in home gardens in climates with only gentle frosts. It grows well in southern Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, where the climate is mild and the growing season long. It has recently been introduced to the Philippines, and is now widely available in markets.

Propagation roots with growing points can be planted in a well-dug bed in early spring, near the time of the last expected frost. While aerial parts are damaged by frost, the roots are not harmed unless they freeze solid. Yacón is a vigorous grower much like Jerusalem artichokes. The plants grow best with fertilization.

After the first few frosts the tops will die and the plants are ready for harvest. It is generally best to leave some in the ground for propagating the following spring. Alternatively, the propagating roots can be kept in the refrigerator or buried away from frost until spring. While usable-sized tubers develop fairly early, they taste much sweeter after some frost.


One reason why Yacon is fast becoming popular in Japan is that it is easy to pickle in “Narazuke” Style (see above picture),


and as dried slices, making for a great snack all year round!
18) Balsamite/Balsamita/Costmary

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Muselle

Organic agriculture and biodiversity have in recent years brought about a rediscovery of many “forgotten” vegetables that people especially in Europe and France conscientiously tried to forget as they reminded them of the privations suffered during WWII. The same people had then to make do with untraditional vegetables because potatoes, carrots and so on were confiscated by occupying forces or their own armies.
With sustainibility and bioagriculture made more important by the deficiencies of modern mass agriculture, those “forgotten” vegetables have suddenly come to the fore for the pleasure of all, and that of course of vegetarians and vegans!

This particular series of postings will introduce these vegetables one by one. I hope they will become useful for a long time to come to all my vegan and vegetarian friends!

Balsamite (French) or Costmary (English) is an aromatic plant that has been cultivated for a long time as an ornamental and medicinal plant.

Its Latin name is Balsamita major Desf. (synonym : Tanacetum balsamita L. subsp. balsamita).

It is known under many names: Grande balsamite, menthe-coq, menthe de Notre Dame, tanaisie des jardins, baume-coq, Chartreuse, (French), Balsamkraut (German), costmary (English), erba-amara balsamica, erba buona (Italian)

It has been grown for many centuries for its pleasant, slightly medicinal or balsamic smell. It was used in medieval times as a place marker in bibles.
Moreover, the plant is known from ancient herbals and was widely grown in Elizabethan knot gardens.

It is a strong plant, quite tall, 1,2 metres/4 feet giving out a pleasant aroma similar to mint with beautiful yellow flowers.

It originated in Western Asia and the Caucasus. It strives in temperate climates and has been succefully grown in Europe, North Africa and North America.

The leaves, slightly sour, can be used to season salads and liqueurs.
Good Beer and Country Boys will be gld to hear that a long time ago, they were used to contribute aroma to ale beer in England!

Liqueur fans, try this:
Macerate 9 leaves with 9 pieces of sugar in fruit alcohol for 2 or 3 months!
19) Concombre Apple Sikkim/Sikkim Cucumber

Did you know that all cucumbers originated in the wild in India?
Well, I didn’t know until I did some rearch on that particular variety!
Large genetic varieties of cucumber have been observed in different parts of India. It has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years in Western Asia, and was probably introduced to other parts of Europe by the Romans. Records of cucumber cultivation appear in France in the 9th century, England in the 14th century, and in North America by the mid-16th century.

Sikkim Cucumber is not an hybrid, but an ancient variety which grows in Sikkim State in India.
Protected by a hard skin, it can easily stored safely for months!
It is comparatively small, never reaching more that 10 cm/4 inches.
Its skin makes for a beautiful design and a popular ornamental plant in Europe.

But it is edible. Its taste is soft and void of acidity.
It can be eaten raw or cooked.
It certainly seems very populat inthe Indian Himalayas.
It can actually be prepared in as many dishes as usual green cucumbers.
20) Chenopodium/Tree Spinach

Chenopodium, or more precisely Chenopodium Giganteum , also called Tree Spinach or Magenta Spree, is a plant originally found in Northern and Eastren India, but has been naturalized in France and some other countries.

The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans.
The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food. However, even considering this, they are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plants will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Leaves can be cooked. Of excellent quality, they are a spinach substitute. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small.
Seed can also be cooked. Ground into a powder and used with wheat or other cereals in making bread etc. The seed is small and fiddly, about 1.5mm in diameter. It should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins.

An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade. It prefers a moderately fertile soil.
The tree spinach is sometimes cultivated for its edible leaves. There are some named varieties like ‘Magentaspreen’, which is a vigorous plant growing 1.5 metres tall. It has large leaves, the new growth is a brilliant magenta colour. Tastiest when young, the leaves are eaten raw or cooked like spinach. A warm climate is required in order to ripen the seed.

Try them in salads for a taste of “wilderness”!

The chayote (Sechium edule), also known as sayote, tayota, choko, chocho, chow-chow, christophene, mirliton, alligator pear, and vegetable pear, Hayatouri/はやとうり (Japanese) is an edible plant that belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The vine is grown on the ground or more commonly on trellises.

Chayote was first domesticated in Mexico, where the fruit is used in both raw and cooked forms. When cooked, chayote is usually handled like summer squash, and it is generally lightly cooked to retain the crisp flavor. Raw chayote may be added to salads or salsas, and it is often marinated with lemon or lime juice. Whether raw or cooked, chayote is a good source of amino acids and vitamin C.

Sauteed Chayote

The tubers of the plant are eaten like potatoes and other root vegetables. In addition, the shoots and leaves can be consumed, and they are often used in salads and stir fries, especially in Asia.

The word for chayote is Spanish, borrowed from the Nahuatl word chayotli. Chayote was one of the many foods introduced to Europe by early explorers, who brought back a wide assortment of botanical samples. The age of conquest also spread the plant south from Mexico, ultimately causing it to be integrated into the cuisine of many other Latin American nations.

Chatotte Tatin

Chayote is native to Central America where it is a very important ingredient to the diet. Other warm regions around the globe have been successful in cultivating it as well. Main growing regions are Costa Rica and Veracruz, Mexico. Costa Rican chayotes are predominantly exported to the European Union whereas Veracruz is the main exporter of chayotes to the United States.

France “imports” its chayotte, also called Josephines from its islands in the Wets Indies and near Africa (Reunion), although moreand more people grow them in Europe.

THey were introduced inJapan in 1917 andhave become increasingly popular as the Japanese like all kinds of gourds. The Japanese eat them pickle, in salads, cooked or in soups.
The shoots are also edible!
22) Strawberry Blite/Epinard-Fraise

Strawberry Blite (Chenopodium capitatum, Blitum capitatum), or Epinard-Fraise in French (Spinach Strawberry) is an edible annual plant, also known as Blite Goosefoot, Strawberry Goosefoot, Strawberry Spinach, Indian Paint, and Indian Ink.

It is native to most of North America throughout the United States and Canada, including northern areas.
It is also found in parts of Europe and New Zealand.
Strawberry Blite is found in moist mountain valleys.
Some farmers and hobbyists are growing them in France.

Flowers are small, pulpy, bright red and edible, resembling strawberries. The juice from the flowers was also used as a red dye by natives.
The fruits contain small, black, lens-shaped seeds that are 0.7-1.2 mm long.
The Plant is small (30 cm=1 foot) and leaves are small too, but can be eaten like spinach. The harvest lasts all Autumn.
Probably best with the fruit added to salads!
Can also be adapted as sauce or coulis.

It is my new Foodbluzz Friend, Wizzy, who attracted my attention on this vegetable, being notably forgotten in the States but entertaining a groeing popularity elsewhere.
I decided to investigate further as I recently had the opportunity to taste recently in Japan!

Purslane cultivation

Portulaca oleracea (Common Purslane, also known as Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed or Pusley), is an annual succulent in the family Portulacaceae, which can reach 40 cm in height. About 40 varieties are currently cultivated. It has an extensive old-world distribution extending from North Africa through the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent to Malesia and Australasia. The species status in the New World is uncertain: it is generally considered an exotic weed; however, there is evidence that the species was in Crawford Lake deposits (Ontario) in 1430-89, suggesting that it reached North America in the pre-Columbian era. It is naturalised elsewhere and in some regions is considered an invasive weed. It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm wide. The flowers appear depending upon rainfall and may occur year round. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are ready. Purslane has a taproot with fibrous secondary roots and is able to tolerate poor, compacted soils and drought.

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it can be eaten as a leaf vegetable, providing sources can be found which have not been poisoned deliberately. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, Asia and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all good to eat. Purslane can be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach, and because of its mucilaginous quality it is also suitable for soups and stews. Australian Aborigines used to use the seeds to make seedcakes.

Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.
It also helps combat ageing as containing antioxydants.

In Greek popular medicine, purslane is used as a remedy for constipation and inflammation of the urinary system.

A common plant in parts of India, purslane is known as “Sanhti”, “Punarva”, or “Kulfa”. In North India it is known to act as a liver tonic and is used in diseases of the liver.


I n japan they are called Grapara leaves (grapara/グラパラ)
Can you see them in the middle of this vegetable sashimi served at yasaitei?


These grapara leaves are grown in Chiba Prefecture, north of Tokyo.
For people who can read Japanese, check their homepage!


Crunchy but with a juicy and tender inside, they are sweet and taste somewhat like pineapple!

Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

Here is a palnt that can be considered both as a vegetable and a fruit depending upon its maturity.
Also considered as a great ornamental plant!

Pepino (Spanish/English) or Poire-melon (pear-melon in French) or Solanum muricatum in Latin is a species of evergreen shrub native to South America and grown for its sweet edible fruit. It is known as pepino dulce (“sweet pepino”) or simply pepino.
The pepino dulce fruit resembles a melon (Cucumis melo) in color and flavor and thus it is also called pepino melon or melon pear, but pepinos are only distantly related to melons and pears.
Another common name, “tree melon”, is more often used for the Papaya (Carica papaya) and the pepino dulce plant does generally not look much like a tree.
The fruit is common in markets in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Chile, but less often overseas because it is quite sensitive to handling and does not travel well. Attempts to produce commercial cultivars and to export the fruit have been made in New Zealand and Chile.
They are being increasingly grown in Europe, France and Belgium in particular, where they can be found in all kinds of dishes.
Moreover, in the United States the fruit is known to have been grown in San Diego before 1889 and in Santa Barbara by 1897.

The plant is grown primarily in Chile, New Zealand and Western Australia. In Chile, more than 400 hectares are planted in the Longotoma Valley with an increasing proportion of the harvest being exported. Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador also grow the plant, but on a more local scale. Outside of the Andean region, it been grown in various countries of Central America, Morocco, Spain, Israel, and the highlands of Kenya. In the United States several hundred hectares of the fruit are grown on a small scale in Hawaii and California. More commercially viable cultivars have been introduced from New Zealand and elsewhere in more recent times. As a result, the fruit has been introduced into up-scale markets in Japan, Europe and North America and it is slowly becoming less obscure outside of South America.

Pepino and kiwano salad

It is a vegetable/fruit valuable for its vitamin C as it contains 29 mg per 100 g.
Depending on its maturity, its taste varies from a slightly sweet cucumber to that of a pear or melon.
Most adapted to salads, although can be cooked when immature.

12 thoughts on “For Vegans & Vegetarians! “Forgotten” Vegetables 1~24”

  1. Great article! By the way – it’s no pain to peel the black salsify/scorsonere. As always, you have to know how to do it 😉
    First it needs a rough wash: soaked in a lot of water and cleaned with a brush to remove the sand/soil. Then the roots will be peeled with a veggie peeler in a bath of very warm water with a dash of a cheap vinegar. The peeling is done down, under the water. So the sap cannot stick on the hands.


  2. What a great list! We have wild “tree spinach” and lots of pursulane that grace the garden and would elsewhere be considered weeds. Do you have seed or plant sources for any of the other veges on the list?


    1. The seeds available at Pinetree seed company. I just harvest my weedy purslane for salads when I see it. The cultivated purslane seeds produce much bigger and meatier leaves.


  3. So many wonderful vegetables here! I just made cardoons the other day–as you know. Have some topinambour in the fridge, ready to make. Wish we had potimarron here where I live–it would make a great risotto, I bet. And I love turnips! Thanks for the great ideas!


  4. OMG! I have never even heard of this vegetable. I don’t think I have even seen them in any of the food stores I go to. How cool! I wish I could try some.


  5. Scorsonere is rarely grown here in the USA there just is no sustainable market for it… The Union Sq. Farmers Market in NYC may have this plant… but it’s going to be tough to find it.


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