From artichokes to zucchini, the Phase 1 vegetable selection on the South Beach Diet offers a wide variety of colors and flavors and a wealth of health-promoting antioxidants. Now that you’re eating at least 4 1/2 cups of vegetables a day, keep in mind that changing up your veggies is important so that you won’t get bored. If you tend to fall back on the same three or four, it’s time to try out some of the dozens of others on the Phase 1 Foods to Enjoy list. Here are 6 tempting, tasty, and slightly unusual vegetables that are available in better supermarkets and/or ethnic markets now.
Chayote (pictured here): This gourd-like, light green vegetable, which actually is a fruit, has a mild flavor and a pale flesh. Abundant in the winter, it may be cooked the same way as zucchini. Try it sliced and sautéed in a little extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh lemon juice, or split it, stuff it, and bake it. Chatoye is also excellent diced and tossed raw into a salad. Choose chayote that are firm and small, and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
Broccolini: A delicious cross between Chinese kale and broccoli, broccolini features long stalks with small buds on one end. You may have heard it called “baby broccoli,” and it’s popular for its slightly sweet, slightly peppery flavor. Store it as you would broccoli: in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Be sure to use broccolini within several days. Try our delicious Broccolini with Warm Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette with a simple chicken breast or broiled steak for a fine Phase 1 meal.
Daikon radish: Ivory white and oversized, the Daikon radish has a mild radish flavor. It is extremely popular in Asian cooking. Since they grow to quite an impressive size, these radishes are typically sold by the piece. Once you get a Daikon radish home, store it in the refrigerator, wrapped loosely in plastic, and be sure to peel before using. Try sautéing Daikon in a little extra-virgin olive oil, or grate it coarsely and add it to salads. You also may shred Daikon radish and use it as a garnish for seafood, or add it to a stir-fry for a flavor boost.
Escarole: A member of the endive family, escarole has pale green, slightly curved leaves, a mild flavor, and a pleasantly crunchy texture. It’s great in a salad that’s dressed with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. In our Lemony Sautéed Escarole, the vegetable is halved, cored, and cut into thin strips, cooked with red onion until wilted, and then seasoned with lemon juice, a little salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Escarole, which also may be added to soups, is best stored unwashed, in a plastic bag in the crisper of the refrigerator.
Hearts of palm: Fresh hearts of palm, which look like white asparagus, can be costly. Firm and smooth, with a delicate flavor, they have a taste that’s reminiscent of artichokes. While fresh hearts of palm aren’t always readily available, you can find canned hearts of palm, packed in water, in gourmet shops and large supermarkets. Once you open a can, refrigerate the hearts of palm in their liquid and use within a week. Try hearts of palm in salads, or in this delicious Hearts of Palm “Potato” Salad, where it makes a fresh, summery substitute for potatoes
Jicama: This irresistibly crunchy 1-to 2-pound Mexican root vegetable looks like a cross between a potato and an onion with a dark brown skin. Once peeled, the crisp, white flesh is a great addition to salads or can be enjoyed raw (with hummus) as a snack. While best raw, jicama may be stir-fried or sautéed, too. Next time you have a craving for Mexican cuisine, whip up some of this Jicama, Tomato, and Black Bean Salad, which is seasoned with cumin, lime juice, and minced garlic. It’s the perfect side dish with fajitas or tacos. In the refrigerator, jicama will keep for a few weeks.