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Our mothers were and still are correct. Vegetables help us stay healthy. From treasured family recipes to the latest food trends, they also present us with endless opportunities to really love fresh produce on our plates.
There are thousands of different veggies and so many ways to group them. You can think of them as root, stem or seed. Some can be classified as tubers, flowers or fungi. It’s a very big, very tasty world to explore, so let’s start with a simple category: small, round green vegetables.
Our List of Favorites: 6 Delicious Little Green Vegetables
Ask local produce suppliers to name the most popular green vegetables. Count on plenty of smiles and different answers. Ask folks shopping for groceries or stocking restaurant pantries. Everyone has a flavorful favorite. We always keep these six round green vegetables with leaves at the top of our fresh produce list.
1. Baby Iceberg Lettuce
Crisp and compact, baby iceberg lettuce offers a tasty alternative to its larger namesake. The leafy vegetable picked up its moniker in early 20th century railcars where it was packed in ice for shipping. Modern refrigeration and transportation changed, but iceberg kept its name.
When you enjoy an appetizer, salad or wrap made with baby iceberg, you probably don’t think about how those small, round green vegetables develop so much flavor. Baby iceberg lettuce grows from special seeds that maximize healthy goodness in a softball-size package with great shelf life.
2. Historic Brussels Sprouts
All vegetables have history, but only one can lay its claim to fame in a 16th century European city. Brussels sprouts’ popularity on plates in Belgium’s capital migrated to American shores during the 18th century. They’ve been an important commercial crop here in California since the early 1900s.
Brussels sprout facts make a long and interesting list, and we’re glad the veggies are finally receiving the appreciation they deserve. Too many years of overcooking and underserving almost sidelined the little packages that deliver a unique combination of good taste and good nutrition.
3. Fresh Green Peas
Are they legumes or seeds? We leave it to botanists to work out the details, but food historians tell us that green peas originated thousands of years ago across the Asian continent. They successfully migrated around the globe to almost every culture and cuisine.
While you can eat them straight out of the pod, fresh green peas add irresistible texture and flavor to all kinds of dishes. They’re also delicious simply steamed and served as a classic side, and they come in four well-known varieties: English, snap, sugar and snow.
4. Tiny, Tasty Tomatillos
When a little vegetable earns a place in the gardens of the National Museum of American History, you know it has a fascinating pedigree. Tomatillos trace their culinary history back through both Mayan and Aztec cultures. Our palates are grateful that the tiny tomatoes made their way this far north.
You’re familiar with tomatillos pureed into a smooth, spicy green sauce over enchiladas, but don’t overlook the veggie’s amazing versatility. It’s an important ingredient in Caribbean cooking, its flavor pairs perfectly with seafood, and it even puts a special kick in scrambled eggs.
5. Exotic Thai Eggplants
Their shapes and colors aren’t quite like the eggplant that we’re used to here in California. They’re small, round and green with a slightly different background from their purple cousins. Golf-ball size Thai eggplants trace their lineage to India and their popularity to Thai cuisine.
Thai eggplants are staples in slow-cooked curries, and they’re highly valued as a healthy snack straight off the vine. They also add wonderful texture and taste to fresh salads and veggie-centric recipes. Look for these little green exotics in Asian produce markets and specialty grocery stores.
6. Edible Fiddlehead Ferns
We saved this one for last because it’s so unusual. Yes, ferns have been on menus since the Middle Ages. No, they’re not as well-known here in the U.S. as they are across Europe. That lack of familiarity positions fiddleheads to become one of our newest hot food trends.
This is one small, green veggie with an impressive nutritional profile. The coiled leaves supply vitamins C and A, serve up omega-3 fatty acid and contain important antioxidants. Like Thai eggplants, fiddlehead ferns are usually found in specialty food stores.
Making the Most of Nature’s Bounty
Premium produce delivers nutrition and good taste in so many versatile packages. Whether you’re partial to Brussels sprouts, prefer peas or favor fiddleheads, we share your love for fresh veggies, and we love sharing ideas for making the most of nature’s field-grown bounty.
We join California produce companies across the state in a salute to round green vegetables with leaves. Whether you bring out their best with steam, grilling or a slow-oven roast, Hitchcock Farms raises a toast to the little green veggies that bless our plates with good health and wonderful flavors.