Vegetables and Beans

Course | Vegetables and Beans Image

Although there are thousands of potentially edible species of plants in the world, human beings use only a small number for food. Most food plants have long been domesticated and bred into forms that serve various purposes and palates.

The domestication of wild plants began around 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. The initial domestication occurred in the Middle East, but agriculture also arose independently in other places at other times. Southeast Asia, Central and South America also cradled ancient civilizations that produced their own agricultural products. Because of this, most of the vegetables we find on our plates today originated in these four areas of the world.

Vegetables do not generally form the caloric foundation of human diets, nor are they a large source of protein. The basic role of vegetables in the diet is to provide a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential to the well being of the body. These nutrients not only maintain heath but also help prevent the onset of disease.

A second and more enjoyable role of vegetables is to provide variety and flavor. Grains and grain products alone can be bland. And meat can be heavy and difficult to digest. But add tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, herbs and spices, and a dish is transformed. The endless variety of colors, scents and flavors offered by vegetables ensure that cooking, eating and the culinary experience are never boring.

Vegetable and Bean Recipes

Aloo Gobi

Vegetables | Aloo Gobi Image

(Indian potato and cauliflower curry)

Aloo gobi is a popular North Indian vegetarian dish often accompanied by naan, roti or paratha to make a full vegetarian meal. Some people serve it in soft buns as a satisfying sandwich. Being what Indians call a "dry curry," very little water is used in making aloo gobi, so it is best made in a non-stick pot. Sometimes spelled alu gobhi. Read more »

Anginares à la Polita

Ingredients | Artichoke Hearts Image

(Greek artichoke hearts and potatoes with dill)

Anginares à la polita means "artichokes city-style." The city in this case is Constantinople, now Istanbul. This wonderful dish is a harbinger of spring and makes good use of artichokes, of one of the first spring vegetables in the market after a long winter. Read more »

Asparagi alla Parmigiana

Ingredients | Asparagus Image

(Italian asparagus gratin)

Roasting is an excellent way to prepare asparagus. This simple dish with a tasty Parmesan crust is a snap to throw together. Asparagi alla parmigiana is a springtime favorite in northern Italy. Read more »

Baigan Bhurta

Ingredients | Eggplant Image

(Indian eggplant and tomatoes)

Baigan bhurta, sometimes spelled baigan bharta, is kind of like an Indian version of the Middle East's baba ghanoush. The eggplant is roasted and the pulp mixed with tomatoes and spices. Serve as a side dish or spread on chapati or naan. Read more »

Beuseus Namul

Ingredients | Shiitakes Image

(Korean stir-fried mushrooms)

Beuseus namul is a typical Korean banchan, or side dish. It is simple but has a bold flavor. Serve as part of a Korean meal with an assortment of other banchan. It is also a typical topping for bimbimbap. Read more »

Bhindi Bhaji

Ingredients | Okra Image

(Indian curried okra)

"Bhaji" is the Hindi word for a type of vegetable side dish that is usually served fairly dry and without a sauce. If you like okra, this recipe is a great way to use it. Read more »

Blaukraut

Vegetables | Blaukraut Image

(German braised red cabbage)

Blaukraut, also known as rotkraut or rotkohl, is a popular German side dish. It is most often served with pork, sausages, goose, duck or game and a side of mashed potatoes or potato dumplings. In England, the same dish is called Suffolk red cabbage. Read more »

Boiled Green Bananas

Ingredients | Green Bananas

(Jamaican starchy side dish)

Boiled green bananas are a popular side dish in Jamaica and many other Caribbean islands where they are used much like potatoes or other root vegetables. Unripe bananas are starchier and much less sweet than the ripe version and make a good side dish for fish or chicken. Read more »

Boston Baked Beans

Vegetables | Boston Baked Beans

(American white beans baked with molasses)

The earliest colonists in North America learned how to slow cook beans with maple syrup from Native Americans. Molasses was a common sweetener in the United States throughout the 19th century, and Boston was a center of production. One tasty result of this abundance was Boston baked beans. It's not called Beantown for nothing! Read more »

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Ingredients | Brussels Sprouts

(English roasted Brussels sprouts with cheese sauce)

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. Undercooked they can be bitter. Overcooked they turn into nasty mush. But if you cook them just right they have a tender, nutty sweetness that will make you a convert. This recipe pairs Brussels sprouts with a delicious cheese sauce in an easy-to-prepare dish. Read more »

Bubble and Squeak

Breakfast | Bubble and Squeak

(English fried potatoes and cabbage)

Bubble and squeak gets its name from the sound it makes as it is cooking. It is a popular breakfast or supper dish in England, made from the leftovers of a roast beef dinner, and often served with bacon and eggs. Also known as "bubble and scrape" or "fry up." Read more »

Calabacitas y Elotes con Crema

Ingredients | Corn on the Cob Image

(Mexican zucchini and corn simmered in cream)

Two New World vegetables pair up beautifully in this simple yet luxurious side dish. Calabacitas is the word for young zucchini, and elotes means kernel corn. Read more »

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Vegetables | Candied Sweet Potatoes Image

(American sugar-baked sweet potatoes)

Also called sweet potato casserole, candied sweet potatoes are a favorite dish in many American households at Thanksgiving and Easter, especially children. They are an extra treat when a layer of marshmallows is baked and browned on top. At Easter, chick- or rabbit-shaped and colored marshmallows called "Peeps" are sometimes used. Read more »

Carottes Braisées au Beurre

Ingredients | Carrots Image

(French braised carrots with butter)

Carottes braisées au beurre are a classic French side dish. The natural sweetness of the carrots, accentuated with a pinch of sugar, goes perfectly with roasted meats and fowl. Read more »

Carrot Tzimmes

Vegetables | Carrot Tzimmes Image

(Israeli Jewish carrots braised with honey)

Tzimmes, or tsimmes, is a Jewish side dish that is a traditional part of a Rosh Hashanah meal. Carrot, or mehren, tzimmes, are a favorite, slowly simmered with honey to make a sweet dish symbolizing a sweet new year. Read more »

Causa Rellena

Vegetables | Causa Rellena

(Peruvian layered potato dish)

This versatile Peruvian potato dish makes a great light meal or a fine addition to a buffet spread. Causa can be layered with any number of fillings — chicken salad and tuna salad are favorites. Served cold, causa rellena is often topped with extravagant garnishes and sauces for a colorful presentation. Read more »

Cerdo con Frijoles

Ingredients | Beans, Black Image

(Mexican stewed pork and black beans)

Wild boar, or cerdo, was traditionally used in this typically Mayan dish from southern Mexico. Epazote is an herb that is almost always used to flavor black beans in the Yucatán. You can substitute bay leaf. Read more »

Chakalaka

Vegetables | Chakalaka

(South African spicy tomato, pepper and onion dish)

Born in the townships of South Africa, chakalaka is a simple, spicy dish of onions, tomatoes and often beans. It has been a staple for generations of black South Africans, and is a required condiment at South African braais, or barbecues. And what a fun name! Read more »

Chiles Rellenos

Vegetables | Chiles Rellenos

(Mexican stuffed, fried chile peppers)

In this sublime dish from Puebla state, chile peppers are roasted and peeled, then stuffed, dipped in a batter and fried. The result is full of flavor and interesting textures. A cheese stuffing is probably the most well known, but meat fillings are also popular. During Lent, chiles rellenos are often served with vegetable or even tuna fillings. Read more »

Coo-Coo

Ingredients | Cornmeal Image

(Bajan cornmeal mush with okra)

Coo-coo, or cou-cou, is one half of "coo-coo and flying fish," the Bajan national dish. This cornmeal porridge is similar to Italy's polenta or Africa's fufu and ugali. Okra goes by the name "ochro" on Barbados. Read more »

Couscous aux Sept Légumes

Vegetables | Couscous aux Sept Legumes

(Moroccan couscous with lamb and vegetables)

This straightforward couscous dish is one of the most popular dishes in Morocco and the rest of the Maghreb. Seven is considered a lucky number, and while the vegetables used in the dish may vary from family to family, town to town and season to season, the number used is constant. Read more »

Creamed Corn

Ingredients | Corn on the Cob Image

(American corn simmered with cream)

Cream-style corn is an old-fashioned midwestern American dish that deserves to be rediscovered. Given a bad name by mushy canned versions, this dish is amazingly simple to make yourself. And the use of fresh corn, not frozen, yields a delicious side dish for summertime meals. Read more »

Dong Gu Dofu

Vegetables | Dong Gu Dofu Image

(Chinese tofu with mushrooms)

This simple vegetarian stir fry is a good wintertime dish. Tofu is paired with meaty shiitake mushrooms in a salty-sweet gravy. Read more »

Dušené Zelí

Breakfast | Bubble and Squeak

(Czech braised cabbage)

Braised cabbage is a very popular side vegetable in Central Europe, often served with roast meats and dumplings. It is called gedünstetes Kraut in Germany. Read more »

Ewa Dodo

Ingredients | Black-Eyed Peas

(Nigerian black-eyed pea stew with plantains)

Black-eyed peas (ewa) and plantains (dodo) are staple foods in Nigeria. Ewa dodo is a spicy, stewy combination of black-eyed peas and often fish served with a side of fried plantains. A Nigerian favorite, ewa dodo makes a nutritious and filling meal. Read more »