Sweetly flavored and colorful, these are the most versatile root vegetable. For vibrant cocktails, we like infusing a liter of gin or vodka for two to three days with raw beets or, for hummus, blending roasted bulbs with tahini, garlic, and spices. The greens make a bold side dish stir-fried with fish sauce, garlic, and chilies.
Whether Swiss or rainbow chard, this green is versatile—and can be swapped into recipes that call for kale or spinach. We love using it to amp up egg dishes, whether sautéing the leaves with garlic and chili flakes to layer on toast with a poached egg or scrambling them with eggs, onion, and chorizo to stuff inside tortillas. Purée the stalks with garlic and tahini for a Mediterranean dip.
Why serve a side of summer corn when it can be the main event? Try sautéing kernels in butter alongside garlic, cherry tomatoes, basil, and zucchini ribbons for a market-fresh pasta. Or, make a sauce by blending raw corn with equal parts milk and cream, then cooking it on the stove till slightly thickened; it tastes wonderful tossed with cheese ravioli and bacon or spooned over grilled fish.
Think outside the salad bowl when it comes to fresh greens. Stir-fry heartier varieties like romaine and escarole with chicken or tofu, fresh vegetables, and a soy-based sauce—or try Korean-style green-leaf lettuce wraps filled with grilled steak, rice, and kimchee. Spicier greens such as arugula and watercress can add kick to pesto.
Roasted root vegetables can get as old as winter. Try perking up this hearty staple by pickling slices in vinegar with garlic and mustard seeds to serve alongside charcuterie, or give in to cold-weather comfort dishes: Bake sliced turnips with cream, garlic, Parmesan, and thyme, then top with bread crumbs for a gratin, or fold turnip purée into creamy mac and cheese.
This article appears in the April 2014 issue of Washingtonian.