As the Accidental Locavore, I’m probably supposed to think that all vegetables are good vegetables. The same might be assumed for everything else that is grown or produced locally, but it’s simply not true. Most of the time, when you buy from a farmer or Greenmarket, the food you get will last longer because it is fresh, but it’s not necessarily going to taste better (although your chances are greater than at the big box grocery stores), or make you suddenly a fan. And there are a lot of superfluous veggies that are added to food, to add color, stretch a meal, or even to surprise you. Why? Here are three ingredients that are fine on their own, but are way too often added to other dishes, making them less interesting and certainly less tasty.
- Peas: Peas have their devout fans, I’m just not one of them. Unless peas are the focus of a dish, they are so often a superfluous vegetable, tossed willy-nilly into way too many dishes (even dog food) for color. As you know, there are a lot of delicious, but drab foods out there, so why can’t we just enjoy them for their great flavors? Would you add peas to (plain) vanilla ice cream?
- Celery: Because celery is inexpensive, it shows up (like an unwelcome relative) at the most inopportune times. It’s a filler vegetable, which might be ok, until it gets cooked to death, turns slimy and stringy and then leaves that nasty old celery taste. Pot pies, chowders and other soups are all prey for it, but possibly the worst offender is cheap Chinese food. Think chop suey and you understand why it made the list. Using it as a crudité or garnish for Buffalo wings is borderline ok, but for me the best part of celery is the root.
- Raisins: These are the stealth bombers of fruits. Just when you think it’s safe to take a bite of something delicious, OMG, there’s a raisin in it! Spare me. It might be an East Coast prejudice, but it isn’t necessary to put a sweet note in savory food. Raisins are the fruit counterpart to peas — superfluous and sugary. Raisins have three, possibly four uses: straight out of the box, in cereal or granola, raisin bread and oatmeal raisin cookies. They do not belong in pasta sauce, salads, or roasted cauliflower.
What foods would make your superfluous list?