Wonder what vegetables grocers aren’t selling, but really should?

Looking for vegetables in your local grocery store is straight forward, but maybe there are vegetables you wish you could buy. Most grocers sell the more common types – lettuce, leafy greens like kale and bok choy, spinach, and more, but you’d be surprised at just how many vegetables and microgreens varieties there are.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 15 vegetables grocers aren’t selling, but probably should.

1.  Wasabi Arugula

Arugula, like other lettuce and leafy greens, has a variety of different types and one that gives a new kick to salads is wasabi arugula. The flavor has a bit of a spicy flare, but it’s not overwhelming; the taste has been described as a cross between spicy horseradish and wasabi.

pOne editor ate handfuls of wasabi arugula plain when this box was dropped off at the office.p
PHOTO BY ALEX LAU

Because of the wasabi like taste, this arugula is excellent in Asian inspired dishes, but you don’t need to be limited to those dishes. As mentioned, using this in a salad will kick things up a notch or try it with pasta.

Recipe idea: Cheese Tortellini with Pancetta and Wasabi Arugula

2. Mexican Pepperleaf

Known locally as the ‘Hoja Santa’ or ‘sacred leaf’, the Mexican pepperleaf helps to compliment many hallmarks of Mexican cuisine. The flavor is a bit like anise, nutmeg, and black pepper, with the flavor being stronger in the stem.

While not prevalent within the US, a few Mexican markets in New York, Chicago, and LA will sell these plants or may sell the recipes that make use of the pepperleaf. Many dishes use the pepperleaf as a wrapper for seafood or even the wrapping for tamales.

Recipe idea: Grilled Snapper Wrapped in Hoja Santa (Mexican Pepperleaf)

3. Red Cabbage Microgreens

Red cabbage microgreens are the smaller, seedling version of the familiar red cabbage you find in grocery stores. While the normal sized red cabbage is noted for helping to lower cholesterol, red cabbage microgreens have been linked to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It also has a high level of vitamin C, providing 245% of the daily value! Using red cabbage microgreens in a salad adds to the flavor, especially if paired with citrus, nuts, avocados, and apples; you’ll want to avoid using heavy dressings, however due to their delicate nature.

Recipe idea: Micro-Chopped Salad

4. Dandelion Greens

When you think of dandelions, you might imagine the weed that pokes up in your garden. But did you know that you can actually eat them? Dandelions might be common weeds, but their greens are actually a delicious addition to your meals.

Dandelion greens are high in vitamins A, B2, C, and K, and even have more iron than spinach. Due to their bitter taste, they work great if sautéed or braised and make a great accompaniment with eggs, soup, and pesto.

Recipe idea: Dandelion Green & Asparagus Tart

5. Edible Flowers

Have you ever ordered edible flowers? More than just a bouquet to celebrate a special day, there are many different types of flowers that are not only beautiful to look at, but delicious to eat. Edible flowers include violets, lavender, dandelions (as we discussed above), roses, sunflowers, and more!

The great thing about edible flowers is they work perfectly as a garnish to food or even as part of a delicious drink!

Recipe idea: Violet Simple Syrup | Lavender Spritzer

6. Amaranth Red Garnet

Originally coming from Peru, the red garnet amaranth is a lesser known type of microgreen, but is a strikingly beautiful flower, with a deep red and magenta coloring. Like other flowers, the entirety of the flower is edible, from the flower spikes, to the leaves, to the seeds.

The leaves have a similar taste to spinach and the seeds are a similar taste and feel to grain, like quinoa. It’s used to make dessert treats for celebration, such as the sweet candy like confection known as dulce de alegria. It can also be used as garnish for dishes.

Recipe idea: Amaranth Leaves Spinach in Coconut Milk

7. Okinawan Spinach

A variety of spinach that originally hails from Indonesia and has a following in the state of Hawaii, Okinawan spinach has a distinctive nut and pine flavoring, making a great dish either raw or lightly sautéed.

As a spinach, it works very well as part of a mixed greens salad, as part of a stir fry, or even as part of an omelet.

Recipe idea: Okinawan Spinach (Handama) Salad

8. Glasswort

Also known as sea beans and Salicornia, glasswort looks like something you might want to feed your goldfish. But because of its strange look, it’s also known as sea asparagus. Glasswort has been around for some time, even making an appearance in William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Mostly found at farmers’ markets along or near coastal cities, sea beans are great for dishes during the summer months.

Recipe idea: Sampire Fritters with Fennel Ceviche and Lemon Thyme Dressing

9.  Buckwheat microgreens

Buckwheat microgreens, also referred to as buckwheat sprouts, are usually harvested once the first leaves have sprouted and grown. Those who are looking to eat gluten-free food will find that buckwheat microgreens are perfect for their diet.

These microgreens are full of nutrients, with a high-level flavonoids and carotenoids, which can help to prevent cancer, leg edema, and prevent the hardening of the arteries. You can eat buckwheat microgreens as an option to any salad or as a garnish for a meal.

Recipe idea: Sprouted Buckwheat Breakfast Bowl

10. Indian/Asian Pennywort

Native to the wetlands of Asia, pennywort has many names, but the binomial name is centella. Pennywort is mostly used in Myanmar cuisine, usually mixed with salads containing onions, peanuts, and bean powder, but it’s also seen in dishes from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries.

Pennywort has a slightly bitter taste, so it’s better balanced with flavorful dressings.

Recipe idea: Burmese Pennywort Salad

11. Red Ribbon/Veined Sorrel

Red Ribbon or Red Veined Sorrel is the best of both worlds – it can be cooked as a vegetable, but it also has a distinctive lemon flavor like an herb. It’s great as a lettuce or baby spinach substitute in salads and sandwiches, but it can also be cooked and eaten with fish, veal, eggs, and potatoes.

Due to the lemon flavoring, this sorrel also makes a fantastic main ingredient for sauces by sautéing a few large handfuls of leaves in a bit of butter. It’s also a great addition to the popular spinach spanakopita dish.

Recipe idea: Spinach and Sorrel Spanakopita

12. Celosia

Featuring a number of varieties, Celosia is often seen as an ornamental plant, but it’s a profitable vegetable within the countries of Africa, Indonesia, and India. The leaves, stems, and even flowers can be combined with other vegetables within soups and stems, while the leaves can be boiled or steamed and eaten as a side dish.

Celosia can be compared to other leafy greens, containing nutrients like protein, calcium, icon, vitamins A and C. Cooking celosia is great during the colder months, as it helps to keep circulation and digestion flowing.

Recipe idea: Sautéed Baby Artichoke and Celosia

13. Chicory

If you’ve ever visited the city of New Orleans (or know people that have), you may have had or heard about chicory coffee. Chicory itself if a flowering plant within the dandelion family, with light purple flowers and leaves that are usually used in salads.

Chicory root is where the ‘chicory coffee’ comes from – the root was often used a substitute during a coffee shortage in 1800s France. During the Civil War when the city of New Orleans had naval blockades which also caused a coffee shortage, chicory roots were used.

Chicory coffee is similar to regular coffee, with a slightly woody or nutty flavor. Just using the chicory root itself, you’ll find the coffee has no caffeine and is great for those trying to cut back on their caffeine intake. Many restaurants in New Orleans still offer this type of coffee to their patrons.

Outside of coffee, you can also eat chicory as either an addition to a salad or even as a dessert.

Recipe idea: Café Noir | Chicory and Dolcelatte Tart

14. Mitsuba

It looks a lot like parsley, has a similar taste to parsley, belongs in the same family as parsley, but this Japanese parsley is very distinct. Mitsuba, also known as cryptotaenia, has a different flavoring than parsley, a cross of parsley, celery, and a hint of cilantro.

Mitsuba is an herb and is used in a variety of Asian dishes like soups and stir fry. Both the leaves, root, and seeds of Mitsuba can be eaten, both cooked and raw, though heat can sometimes bring out its more bitter flavor. And like a number of our listings, it’s high in vitamin C and calcium.

Recipe idea: Oyakodon

15. Lovage

Did you know that lovage was a popular salad green before celery became common? You may not have heard about lovage, but it’s a herb that tastes a bit like celery.

All of the plant can be used in cooking – leaves can be chopped and added to salads, soups, stews, and more, while other parts can also be used therapeutically. The roots were often used a salves and placing them in bath water could help with aching joints.

Recipe idea: Lovage Bloody Mary Cocktail

In this article, we looked at 15 vegetables that grocers aren’t selling, but really should. The great things about all of these listed is that they are easy to grow for both an indoor farm or a container farm, providing an unique section to any growers crops.

If you’re wondering about how to start a container farm business, we have a great guide to walk you through. We also offer free tours so you can see what the inside of a container farm looks like, how it works, and get your questions answered!