Category Archives: Vegetables





     Jicama is a large, bulbous, root vegetable. (Pronounced heek a mah). It is also known as the Mexican turnip, Mexican potato, Mexican yam, or yam bean. This plant was originally exported from the Spanish to the Philippines in the 17th century. Jicama comes from the Aztec word xicamalt. They used its seeds as medicine. Jicama is also one of the 4 elements honored during the Festival of the Dead on November 1st in Mexico.
Jicama is a starchy, edible root. It has thin, brown, papery skin that must be removed before eating. The flesh is crispy and white. It can be eaten cooked or raw. It has a flavor similar to raw potato and apple. Jicama won’t discolor when cut.
The root is the only edible part of the jicama plant. The leaves, stems, and ripe pods of the plant are poisonous. Jicama is also used to make a thickener similar to arrowroot.

There are two main varieties of Jicama: Pachyrhizus tuberosus, and P. erosus. P. tuberosus is native to the Amazon. It grows in tropical and temperate zones of the Americas, Andes, Ecuador, China and Caribbean. It is 8 to 12 inches in diameter. When this plant reaches a diameter of 12 inches, a toxic substance called retonone is produced. Retonone is used as an insecticide. P. tuberosus is juicy, and almost always eaten raw. P. erosus comes in two types: water and milk.     They just denote the consistency of the root. It grows in Mexico and Central America. It is 6 to 8 inches in length. P. erosus is eaten raw or cooked.
Jicama contains vitamin C and Potassium. Peak season for the jicama is November through May.

Flavors for Jicama

citrus, especially lime

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved
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Garlic is a member of the lily family (alliums).  It is an edible bulb.  Garlic is an annual bulbous herb.  One head of garlic (called a bulb) is 12- 16 cloves of garlic.  The head is covered in a paper thin white membrane, as well as each clove.  The plant grows long flat leaves.

All garlic falls under the species allium sativum, which is divided into two subspecies: hardneck and softneck. These, in turn, can be divided into several varieties and sub varieties, creating more than 600 types of garlic.  There are five main varieties of garlic: Artichoke, Rocambole, Porcelain, Silverskin  and Purple Stripe.

Garlic has been very important throughout history.  It probably originated in western Asia, around the desert of the Kirghiz people.  In about 1500, it was revered as a medicine.  In ancient Egyptian tablets, there were 22 prescriptions with garlic.  Egyptian athletes believed garlic could increase strength and endurance. However, the ancient Greeks disliked garlic and thought it would bring bad luck.  But in another account, Greek athletes used garlic as a stimulant.  Medieval doctors believed garlic would help cure the whopping cough, and it could be used as a charm against witches.  On St. John’s Day, if you purchase garlic, it would keep you safe from poverty from the rest of the year.  In 1858, Louis Pasteur discovered garlic could indeed kill bacteria.  During the crusades, garlic finally reached Western Europe.  Garlic was considered the poor man’s spice.

There are over 30 varieties of garlic.  Today some of the common forms of garlic include, white garlic, pink garlic, purple garlic, giant or elephant garlic and Spanish garlic.  You can also buy ground garlic, chopped garlic, dried garlic, garlic salt, powdered garlic, roasted garlic, and garlic oil.  The longer you cook garlic, the longer the flavor will deviate.  Young garlic or garlic greens are also a delicacy.

ONION, GARLIC, ELEPHANTONION, GARLIC, ELEPHANT, CLOVEElephant Garlic.  One clove is the size of a strawberry.

When garlic is bruised, crushed, chopped, or the like, the oils in the garlic will be released, making the dish even more pungent.  Since garlic oils are known to permeate the lungs, the odor of garlic may remain with you for a time, exuding through your breath and skin odor.  Chlorophyll may help to alleviate some of the garlic’s pungency.


Garlic contains selenium when eaten in large quantities.  It is a diuretic, stomachic, tonic, antispasmodic, anti-arthritic, antiseptic, and has cleansing properties.  Garlic may also contain allicin, which is beneficial on the cardiovascular system, and contains allyl sulfide, a powerful antibiotic.

Garlic Pairings

  • beans
  • beef
  • beets
  • cabbage
  • chicken
  • eggplant
  • fish
  • lamb
  • lentils
  • mushrooms
  • pasta
  • pork
  • potatoes
  • rice
  • shellfish
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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Radish comes from the Latin work radix.  From the Latin word comes the Greek raphonos, which means, that which rise early.  The radish is a member of the mustard family, and is related to horseradish.  They can range in color from white, to red to purple to black.  Radishes are though to be native to the near east.  It is one of the first vegetables to be domesticated 4000 years ago by the Egyptians, and the Babylonians.  In approximately 500BC, the Chinese developed different varieties of radishes.  Radish sprouts are also said to be a delicacy.

Spring Radishes range in color.  There are a few different types of Asian Radishes.  The daikon radish is long and white.  The kimchee radish is green.  Lo bok (Lo pak, luo boh) can be pink, red, white, or mixed.  Mu (Moo, Mooli) is short and fat, and has white flesh.  Black radishes are firm and dry.    They originated during the 19th century in the Mediterranean.  They are round and black.  They may also be known as Spanish radishes.  The skin is sooty black, but the skin is ivory white.  These radishes are grown to be stored.  They are very pungent like horseradish.  Watermelon radishes are a possible mutation of a hybrid.  Daikon radishes are white-fleshed winter radishes.  They have smooth skin and crisp flesh.  They also can be black, pink or green.

Chinese cook their radishes.  Americans, eat them raw as relishes.  Koreans pickle the radish roots, leaves, seedpods, and sprouts.  Japanese pickle their radishes, as well as eat them raw, and cooked.

Small table radishes are best in the spring.  Black radishes are best in the winter.  Oriental radishes are available year round.  Red fleshes radishes are available in the fall to late winter.  When choosing radishes, look for perky greens attached with no cracks.  They should be solid and firm.

Radishes contain vitamins C, potassium, and folic acid.  They are said to be antiseptic, antiarthritic, and antirheumatic.  They stimulate the appetite, combat scurvy, and rickets, and aids in digestion.  They are also said to help in the treatments of asthma, bronchitis, mineral deficiencies, and liver and gallbladder troubles.

Radish Flavor Pairings

  • chives
  • lemon
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • salt
  • vinegar, especially rice wine and sherry


Daikon Radish


watermelon radish

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Originally published 5-22-14

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.




Parsley is a biennial plant that is commonly used as a garnish in today’s kitchen.    There are two main types of parsley, curly (Petroselinum crispum),  and Italian or flat leaf (P. crispum var. neapolitanum).  Curly parsley has small curly leaves that are bright green.  Italian flat leaf parsley has flat, broad leaves that are dark green in color.  Hamburger parsley (P. crispum var. tuberosum), or turnip rooted parsley is mainly used for its white roots.  There are more than 30 varieties of parsley grown today.


Parsley is native to Southern Europe.  It is the main staple in many kitchens and the basis of any herb blend.  It can be used as a garnish, or anything else.  It is very refreshing.  It can be used in any dishes, except sweet dishes.  Parsley contains vitamins A and C.  It is high in vitamin K.  It also contains essential oils that have anti-inflammatory properties.  There is research being done on the breast cancer fighting abilities of parsley as well.

The way the flavor of parsley is described is “fresh”.  It contains a high amount of chlorophyll, which gives it a cleansing ability on the palat and the ability to neutralize odors.  It also pairs well with many foods.  It is the “parent” of carrots, anise, caraway, cumin, celery, cilantro, chervil, fennel and dill.  (That is why these foods taste so well with parsley)

In ancient times, parsley wreaths were used to ward off drunkenness.  In ancient Greece, parsley represented joy and festivity. Pliny the elder praised parsley. Parsley was first used as a seasoning in the middle ages.

In America, parsley seems to be used mainly as a garnish or accent to other foods.  However, around the world, parsley holds its own.  In the Middle East a dish mainly consisting of parsley called Tabbouleah is popular.  In France, parsley stems are used as a fortifying flavor of dishes, and in Italy the Parsley stems represent well wishes for the chef.


  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Toss to combine well.


Serves 4-6 as a side dish

  • 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 stalks green onions, finely sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, small diced
  • ½ cucumber, small diced
  • 1 tsp microplaned lemon zest
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 4 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  1.  Pour boiling water over bulgur wheat and a large pinch of salt.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand until all water has been absorbed, and grain is tender.
  2. Fluff the grains, and then add parsley, mint, green onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Toss thoroughly to combine.
  3. Mix together the lemon zest, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Toss over salad and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Best served at room temperature

Things that go well with Parsley


















© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved
Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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Chard, also called Swiss Chard, ( beta vulgaris, var. cida) is a green that is a member of the spinach family and the cruciferous family.
The chard is a biennial plant.  In Greek writings, dating back to the 4th century AD, there are descriptions of chard.  The Greeks and Romans used chard for medicinal properties.
The chard plant has crinkly green leaves.  Swiss chard has white stalks, whereas rhubarb chard has reddish stalks.  Ruby chard has bright red stalks and deep red and green leaves.  There is even a variety that has a yellow stalk.  The Chard plant can grow up to 6 feet across.
Prepare chard leaves as you would spinach, the stalks, like asparagus.
Chard contains vitamins A, C, iron, magnesium, potassium.  It is a laxative and a diuretic.  Chard is available year round.


Chard’s Flavors


Swiss Chard With Lemon and Pine Nuts

2 lb Swiss chard, trimmed, stems and leaves separated
1 pint water
2 oz lemon juice
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz pine nuts, toasted and chopped

            Cut the chard into 1 to 2 inch strips on a diagonal.

            Combine the chard, water, and 1 ounce lemon juice in a non reactive pan.  Simmer until tender, stirring frequently, approximately 10-15 minutes.

Drain.  Toss with remaining lemon juice, and the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and arrange on plates.  Garnish with the pine nuts.

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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Ramp, allium tricoccum,  is a slender member of the onion family.  It grows wild through out the Eastern Seaboard, from Canada to the Carolinas in Northern America.  They are in season from March to mid May.

Ramps have a woodsy, oniony, garlicky flavor.  They have a firm bulb, broad green leaves with red veins.

Ramps contain vitamin A and C.  They can be eaten raw or cooked.

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

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The loofah is also known as the ridged gourd, luffa, dish cloth gourd, or Chinese okra.  It has a flavor similar to summer squash, with a cucumber like crispness.
The loofah is a gourd that is long and narrow.  Most have strong ridges running lengthwise down the vegetable .  Some varieties are also smooth.  Buy when small, approximately 12 inches long, and when it is hard and heavy for its size.
Loofahs can also be harvested and dried to be used as a “dish cloth” or rag.  Loofahs are low in calories and also contain vitamin C.


Loofah and Chicken Stir Fry

1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast, cut across grain into 1/8 inch thick slices
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/2-cup chicken stock
1/2 lb. fresh angled loofah
1-cup peanut oil
3 small fresh shiitakes, stems discarded and caps sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 tsp. Chinese fermented black bean paste
5 small fresh red chiles, seeded, and cut into fine julienne
2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. water

1.       Stir together chicken, cornstarch, and 1 tsp. sesame oil in a small bowl.
2.       Stir together oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and stock in another bowl until sugar dissolves.
3.       Remove ridges from loofah with a vegetable peeler, and then scrape skin lightly with a sharp small knife.  Cut loofah lengthwise into 2 by 1/2 inch thick slices.
4.       Heat peanut oil in a wok over moderate heat until it registers 350ºF on thermometer, then cook chicken, stirring, just until no longer pink, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, then pour oil into a heatproof container and reserve.
5.       Heat wok over high heat until a bead of water dropped onto a cooking surface evaporates immediately.  Add 3 tbsp. reserved peanut oil, swirling wok to coat evenly, and heat until it just begins to smoke.  Stir-fry mushrooms until lightly browned and tender, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add beans, chiles, garlic, and ginger and stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add loofah and toss until well coated.
6.       Add stock mixture and bring to a boil.  Add chicken and return sauce to a boil.  Stir cornstarch mixture and add to sauce, then boil, stirring, until sauce thickens slightly and becomes translucent.
7.       Serve drizzled with remaining 1/4 tsp. sesame oil.

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger       All rights reserved

Please contact me for permission to use or reference this work.

Please contact me if you wish to receive “Food For Thought” in your mailbox.