Baby Vegetables 101

Miniature cauliflower, Lilliputian squash, and dainty bunches of carrots look irresistible on the produce shelf. But how exactly does one prepare and serve baby vegetables? Follow these guidelines for cooking perfect pint-sized produce.

Who knew cauliflower grew in such a rainbow of colors? Tennis ball-sized or even smaller, you’ll find baby cauliflower in shades of orange, green, purple, and yellow, as well as the familiar white. For the best flavor, choose tightly clustered heads that are firm to the touch. Steam for approximately three minutes and serve with dip, in salads, or alongside other baby veggies and cheese fondue.

Available in purple, white and, of course, green, baby asparagus is delicious grilled, roasted, broiled, sautéed, or simply steamed with a dab of butter. Top with vinaigrette, hollandaise, or béarnaise sauce, or sprinkle with lemon, salt and pepper for a lighter approach. The slender spears are perfectly sized for blanching and serving in crudités or salads.

Much tastier than those ubiquitous faux baby carrots that come peeled and bagged, true baby carrots are sold in an array of colors with the tops attached. More delicately flavored than their full-grown kin, miniature carrots make an attractive accompaniment to roasted meats and poultry. Serve them on their own sautéed, glazed, blanched, or simply raw with a side of dip.

Zucchini & Summer Squash
Most every variety of summer squash can be found in specialty markets in miniature form, from the familiar zucchini and yellow squash to the curiously shaped pattypan and lemon squash. All are excellent for grilling, with our without the edible (and delicious!) flower attached. Baby squash also make eye-catching sautés and are perfect for roasting with an assortment of diminutive veggies.

Perfectly bite-sized, petite baby beets sweeten with roasting and are delicious in salads with baby lettuces, vinaigrette, nuts, and Gorgonzola or goat cheese. Like spinach, kale, or other dark leafy greens, baby beet greens are a summer treat sautéed in olive oil with garlic and a dash of salt.


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