A Guide to Baby Vegetables
Warm sunny days of spring bring a bounty of tender gifts from the garden. Use our market-to-table guide for tips on buying, cooking, and serving baby vegetables.
Grow Your Own Baby Vegetables
Shop gardening catalogs for baby vegetable seeds. We recommend John Scheepers's The Happy Baby Garden. You can also find baby vegetables in specialty markets or online: The Chef's Garden or Melissa's.
Take your pick from a rainbow of vibrant colors. Roots should be firm and smooth; feathery tops, crisp and bright green. Trim tops, refrigerate separately, and add to salads.
Steam in a small amount of water until crisp-tender, or bake with a roast chicken. Parboil and sauté in butter; sprinkle with fresh orange zest and finely chopped crystallized ginger.
Try the recipe for skillet-roasted Glazed Baby Carrots. Add a spicy twist by substituting an equal amount of hot jalapeño pepper jelly for the marmalade.
Choose small, firm potatoes with smooth, paper-thin skins. Try different varieties to find your favorite—each offers a unique taste and texture. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Boil, steam, or roast in a hot oven. Or lightly coat halved, parboiled potatoes with cooking spray, and grill, covered with grill lid 8 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally.
Pair grilled fingerlings with a spicy aïoli for an easy appetizer. Top off a leafy green salad with warm roasted Yukon golds. Or toss steamed baby reds with sour cream and dill.
Look for clean, crisp leaves with fresh-cut ends. Wash, dry (a salad spinner works great), wrap loosely in paper towels, and place in a zip-top plastic bag. Refrigerate in the crisper drawer.
Halve compact heads (such as baby romaine or endive) lengthwise; drizzle with oil, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender.
Try our recipe for Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Brown Sugar Vinaigrette.
Colors range from bright orange to lime green—all are similar in flavor. Look for firm heads with tightly clustered florets. Refrigerate unwashed in a perforated zip-top plastic bag.
Bring 1⁄2 inch water to a boil in a large stock pot fitted with a steamer basket; add baby cauliflower heads in a single layer. Cover and steam 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Add a colorful crunch to salads and crudités platters. Steam and toss with fresh herb butter, or top with Alfredo sauce and grated Asiago cheese and broil until bubbly and golden.
Try our recipe for Beer-Cheese Fondue with Baby Cauliflower for an easy way to serve baby cauliflower.
Choose crisp, firm spears with tightly closed tips. White spears are delicately flavored; purple are slightly sweeter. Refrigerate in a zip-top plastic bag in the crisper drawer.
Blanch, grill, broil, or stir-fry until crisp-tender. Or roast in a hot oven: Toss with olive oil; season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of sugar. Bake at 475° for 6 minutes or until golden.
Drizzle with lemony hollandaise or tarragon-infused béarnaise. Tuck inside a goat cheese omelet or a grilled ham and white-Cheddar panini. Marinate with a citrus vinaigrette.
Baby Summer Squash
Color and shape vary from scalloped yellow pattypan to slender green zucchini. The freshest and most tender have smooth, glossy skin. Refrigerate in a perforated zip-top plastic bag.
Cook just until crisp-tender. Sauté, steam, or roast in a hot oven. Or thread halved squash on skewers, lightly coat with cooking spray, and grill 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Try our recipe for Sautéed Baby Squash and Leeks with fresh basil and feta. Or, toss with browned butter and caramelized onions or hot cooked cheese tortellini.
Look for firm, brightly colored beets with smooth skin and crisp tops. Trim tops, leaving 1⁄2 inch of stem; refrigerate unwashed beets and tops separately in zip-top plastic bags.
Roasting beets deepens the flavor and concentrates the natural sugar. Simmer beet greens in pork-rich pot likker, or quickly sauté in a hot skillet like fresh spinach.
Try Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Gorgonzola, pecans, and Brown Sugar Vinaigrette. Toss in diced avocado and fresh orange segments for a flavorful twist. You can also prepare baby beet greens in the same way as turnip or collard greens or sautéed like fresh spinach. Try our recipe for Sautéed Baby Beet Greens.