International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Vegetable and Bean Recipes

Woman with vegetables at Chichicastenanango market

Image by Guillén Pérez

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.

International Vegetable and Bean Recipes


Puerto Rican pasteles, wrapped and unwrapped

(Puerto Rican savory cakes in banana leaves)


Indian vendor with a large bundle of fresh saag greens

(Indian, Pakistani spiced spinach)


Pot of chakalaka on the stove

(South African spicy tomato, pepper and onion dish)


Mofongo mashed plantains

(Puerto Rican, Dominican mashed plantains and pork cracklings)


Women making fufu

(West African mashed yams)


Pikliz (Haitian spicy pickled vegetables)

(Haitian spicy pickled vegetables)

Sukuma Wiki

Sukuma Wiki (East African greens simmered with tomatoes)

(East African greens simmered with tomatoes)


Vigorón (Nicaraguan yuca, pork rind and cabbage salad)

(Nicaraguan yuca, pork rind and cabbage salad)


Falafel (Middle Eastern fried chickpea patties)

(Middle Eastern fried chickpea patties)


Kenyan farmer with potatoes

(Kenyan mashed peas, potatoes and corn)