Artichokes are highly developed kind of
thistle with an edible flower head. The 'choke' is the silky,
under-developed flower that is removed before its fleshy succulent base
is eaten. The freshly base of each leaf (sepal) on the flower head is
also edible. The tiny Italian artichokes are eaten whole. Artichokes are
boiled and eaten cold as an hors-d'oeuvre or as a separate vegetable.
Fennel is a greenish bulb with a slightly
aniseed flavor. It can be eaten raw, finely sliced with a vinaigrette
sauce as an hors-d'oeuvre, or cooked as a vegetable. Its leaves can be
used as a herb, either fresh or dried, especially with fish. Celeriac
has an edible stem base, shaped like a turnip. (The stalks, unlike those
of common celery, are inedible). Celeriac can be grated and eaten raw as
part of an hors-d'oeuvre or it can be cooked and used as a vegetable or
Pumpkins are large round gourds. The bright
orange flesh, with the seeds and peel removed, can be used in soups or
as a vegetable. Sorrel looks rather like spinach and is often cooked
with spinach or in its palce. Some varieties are very bitter and need
blanching for about five minutes in a lot of boiling water, to remove
the excess acidity, before being used.
Chicory (endive in French) should never be
washed but just wiped. Any damaged leaves should be removed. It can be
eaten raw as an hors-d'oeuvre with a vinaigrette sauce or cooked as a
vegetable. Endive (chicoree in French) looks rather like a
yellowish-green mop-head with thin, curled leaves. If it is young and
pale it can be eaten as a salad, but if it is dark green it is apt to be
bitter, and it is better to blanch it and then cook it like spinach or
use it for soup.
Small white onions like large round spring
onions can be bought in France, but are not very common elsewhere. In
many cases an ordinary onion, quartered, makes an acceptable substitute,
though it will not look so good. However, where the recipe calls for
glazed onion, it is best to try to find small pickling onions.
Haricot beans are white dried beans. They
need soaking before they can be used; the length of soaking depends
partly on their age, but less than 12 hours is rarely adequate. They are
used in soups and in meat dishes. Chick peas are cream-colored peas
which are bought dried. They must be soaked before being used in salads,
soups or stews.
The French varieties of lentil are brown or
green, not orange. Lentils can be used in soups and in some vegetable
dishes. They do not require soaking before use.