I’ve done exhaustive research on this.
Okay, I scribbled some lists of the best, and then I saw an article in the newspaper on the top ten vegetables. In a survey of 2,559 households conducted last January, the National Gardening Association listed their ten most popular garden vegetables, and in second place, 47% of them listed: cucumbers. Cucumbers.
Be serious. Cucumbers taste like what happens when grass gets too much water.
It just so happens that I’ve doodled the list of the ten best vegetables in the world, and I’m prepared to share. (The list, if not the veggies.) Botanical note: the gardeners’ list includes tomatoes as a vegetable and so do I. I know, really a fruit, seeds on the inside, some controversy involving reclassification pertaining to imports and exports with Mexico last century, yadda, yadda. I’m not only counting tomatoes as a vegetable, they’re toward the top of my list:
1. Corn. Fresh corn, not over-cooked, with some butter and a little pepper and salt is almost religion, it’s so good. Boiling is okay, but grilling is better. Corn is so good it’s almost it’s own category: vege-sert or desser-getable.
2. Onions. Especially red onions. They make almost anything better. I even slice them crosswise, so the concentric circles all hold together, and put them on the grill. You have to be patient and just turn the slice over once (you can’t flip it a lot or it all falls apart), but they cook up wonderfully. Sweet! Just a bit of Italian dressing, and it’s a great side dish all by itself. Onions may have a potent reputation, but when you think about it, they go in lots of dishes and play nice with many other foods.
3. Tomatoes. They can be heavenly good. All kinds. It’s sad what’s happened to store-bought tomatoes over the years; they’ve lost their flavor. Growing your own reminds you how delicious tomatoes can be. Another vegetable that plays nice with others.
4. Asparagus. I don’t recall liking asparagus as a kid. Too strong and grassy a taste–but as an adult I’ve learned to love asparagus, especially braised (tho’ steaming al dente is fine), and splurging on some proscuitto too wrap around the spears is heavenly.
5. Peas. Snap peas, snow peas, it’s all good. During the holidays there has to be a bowl of peas with pearl onions on the table, it’s a tradition.
6. Broccoli. Another one I don’t remember liking much as a kid, but in college I came to love broccoli. Probably because it was something I liked in university cafeteria salad bars. Like asparagus, over-cooking is a pity and a waste; al dente is wonderful.
7. Romaine lettuce. Simply put, the backbone of a wonderful salad.
8. Carrots. Another vegetable that’s great on the grill. They also get very sweet.
9. Spinach. Not a big fan of cooked spinach, but raw it’s wonderful as the base for salads.
10. Ripe bell peppers. After tasting ripe yellow, orange, or red bell peps, and finding out that green bell peppers are just unripe versions of the same, green peppers just tasted unripe to me. I love red bell peps–they can really add flavor and zing to a pasta sauce.
Honorable mention: Celery, squash, zucchini, black beans. Butternut squash in particular can be blissful — but a top ten list means … choices must be made.
Have I forgotten anything?