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November 20, 2019
What exactly are baby vegetables?

I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered about that – “What are baby vegetables anyway?”. Are they just vegetables like all the rest? Are they vegetables… dwarves – a variety that produces maybe only this type of vegetables or are they hybrids? Well, you know what? Baby vegetables can be all the above!   

So, let’s start with the basics… In the first category of baby vegetables, there are indeed the ones that are harvested early, before they complete all stages of growth. These may be leafy ones (e.g. spinach), roots or tubers (e.g. potatoes). The second category involves dwarf vegetables, another version of vegetables that come only in this particular size, while the third category involves hybrids; vegetables that have been grown by crossbreeding two different varieties of the same species and that -supposedly- have improved characteristics compared to the “parent” plants from which they come from. These are, generally, the main categories of baby vegetables which have -of course- some positive, but also some negative elements as well. Which are they? I will tell you right away…

  • Baby vegetables, which are the immature version of regular ones, are much more tender, while they preserve all the taste that the plant would have in its mature version. Simply imagine the whole taste of the vegetable…in a more compact version.  
  • Baby vegetables that belong in the other two categories, can be just as tasty and tender. However, there is a great chance that they might turn out to be tougher than regular vegetables and taste rather bland. Therefore, it is important to purchase them from suppliers that we trust not only for the quality of the products they give us, but also for the safe cultivation conditions of these products.
  • Due to their small shape and… “young” age, we can use baby vegetables without chopping or peeling them. In fact, this is another reason why we should be certain that the products we buy meet the code of good agricultural practice.
  • Because of their small size and of the fact that they don’t need peeling, we can use the whole product, reducing the leftovers (that is, the quantity of food that ends up in the trash). At the same time, they require less land and natural resources for their production. So, they are… eco-friendly too (provided that they always meet the code of good agricultural practice)!
  • Their price is often…the opposite of their size. Since they have become a trend (in fact, it started several years ago -around 1980), their cost is -sometimes- pretty high in relation to what we are being offered.    

Where do we use them?

Actually, anywhere we want. Practically, wherever it benefits us. What does that mean? That we can roast our baby vegetables in the oven so to enjoy their wonderful flavors and at the same time, create a beautiful plate. Moreover, a puree of these baby vegetables would be just as tasty but for that, we would need a much larger quantity of vegetables and that could increase the cost of our recipe greatly.

Below, you will find three delicious recipes with baby vegetables. My piece of advice? Try them but do not just stick to them…Add some baby vegetables to any other recipe that you love!

Akis

Baby potatoes with spinach and capers

Baby potatoes with spinach and capers by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Pork and vegetable roast

Pork and vegetable roast by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Mediterranean millet salad

Mediterranean millet salad by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

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