6 Elegant Veggies To Add To Your Repertoire

Even the best chefs need backup sometimes. Whether you’re seeking inspiration or simply want to experiment with some new ingredients, these vegetables can help you empower old favorites or come up with something totally new, all while looking positively classy on the plate.

Ramps

Ramps may be the most “got to have it” vegetable out there and honestly, we don’t blame em; the foraged favorite has a flavor that takes parts of leeks, shallots, and scallions and fuses them into an unforgettable finished product. They make a killer side dish too, but if you’re looking a ramp-forward main, try tossing them into your next spaghetti carbonara.

Shallots

We love shallots because they expand on dishes without changing the rules. The little allium is the perfect cross of onions and garlic but without the bite. Naturally, you can often swap it in for onions with little to no effort. If you ever need help enriching a dish, keep shallots in mind.

  • Peak Season: May-July
  • Favorite Varieties: Ambition, Matador, Torpedo
  • Try Cooking: Beef tenderloin with roasted shallots

Artichokes

If you’re anywhere near the west coast, it’s worth considering adding artichoke to your menu. While the veggie is delicious nationwide, it has reached icon status in California, where nearly 100% of the U.S. crop is grown. Artichokes are hearty without being overly filling, which make them a fantastic main course option. To start, try crafting a traditional moroccan tagine with artichokes or pair artichoke hearts with freshly caught seafood!

  • Peak Season: February-April
  • Favorite Varieties: Big Heart, Omaha, Violetto
  • Try Cooking: Moroccan tagine with artichokes

Fennel

You know fennel the minute you taste it. Its strong licorice flavor is only matched by perfume-y aromatics that bring a lingering clarity into greater dishes. Traditionally, fennel has had a bring presence in Italian cuisine, so don’t be afraid to incorporate it to house-made ravioli, pasta sauces, or soups!  

  • Peak Season: September-February
  • Favorite Varieties: Trieste, Zefa Fino
  • Try Cooking: Fennel ravioli

Endive

Endive deserves a place on your menu purely due to its exceptional versatility. Frisée, escarole, and Belgian endive are all members of the endive family, but they each have their own unique textures and flavor profiles. This means that you can make first-class salads and show stopping Italian dishes while staying in the endive family.

  • Peak Season: June-October
  • Favorite Varieties: Frisée, Escarole, Belgian
  • Try Cooking: Salad lyonnaise & escarole aglio e olio

Radicchio

A bold chicory if there ever was one, radicchio has a characteristic bitterness that’s legendary in the culinary community. Interestingly enough, this strong flavor still pairs well with other items on this list; try crafting a classy radicchio & fennel salad or add some to a shallot seasoned pasta!

  • Peak Season: March-May & September-November
  • Favorite Varieties: Castelfranco, Chioggia, Treviso
  • Try Cooking: Radicchio & fennel salad
    • Pro Tip: If you want to cut down on radicchio’s bitterness, try one of these cooking methods.