Are you struggling to think of vegetables that start with “A”? Well, here they are. This list covers many vegetables, such as the familiar Alfala and the mysterious Arracacha. Keep reading to learn more about these delicious “A” vegetables.
Table of Contents
Artichokes, also called the French Artichoke or Green Artichoke, are globe-shaped vegetables. They are basically the immature flowers of a thistle plant in the Asteraceae family. Artichokes have three parts: the bracts (or leaves), the “choke” (the center), and the heart (the core). You can eat young Artichokes whole, but with older ones, the heart is the only tender and edible part.
Younger Artichokes can be eaten raw, while older ones are best when cooked. Cooked Artichokes develop rich, complex flavors reminiscent of toasted nuts and caramel. You can prepare Artichokes by simply grilling or stuffing them, but they also go well in soups and stews.
There are many varieties of Asparagus that vary in size, but standard Asparagus is 9 inches in length and 16 millimeters in diameter. Asparagus basically refers to the young edible stems of the Asparagus plant. The stalks are a dark pistachio green with a tender tip and thick ends. The main flavors of Asparagus are grassy and sweet, similar to broccoli. Popular varieties of Asparagus include the Jersey Knight and Jersey Supreme.
You can use Asparagus in a variety of ways. Whether boiled, baked, fried, or sauteed, this delicious crunchy green is a treat regardless.
3. Chinese Arrowroot
The Chinese Arrowroot, more popularly known as the Lotus Root, is a stem that grows underground in water. It looks similar to a large, thick sausage, which when cut open reveals a structure similar to a bunch of pods connected to each other. The Lotus root is dense and crisp, with a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. There are many ways to prepare it.
Young Lotus roots can be prepared in simple ways such as sauteing, stir-frying, and steaming. While older Lotus roots are cooked over a long period of time to develop a tender texture similar to potatoes.
Amaranth is a broad name that refers to many plants from the Amaranthaceae family. These plants grow up to two meters tall and bear oval-shaped leaves and feathery green flowers. They are cultivated for their edible seeds and leaves as well as their attractive flowers. Although the Amaranth leaves are similar in flavor to Spinach and Swiss Chard, they are much higher in carotene, protein, and iron.
Young Amaranth leaves are slightly astringent like Spinach leaves, while older ones taste nutty and mild. These leafy greens go well in stews, soups, and salads.
Arame, also called Sea oak, is a species of kelp well-known for its use in Japanese cuisine. While it is indigenous to the temperate Pacific Ocean waters close to Japan, it is also cultivated in South Korea. The plant grows up to 1 meter tall with two flattened fronds that bear the edible feathery part. Divers harvest it manually or mechanically. In fresh form, it has dark brown leaves but when dried, they turn into thin, wiry strands.
Arame is available fresh after harvest or in dried form all year round. Before consumption, it is usually rehydrated for five minutes. Arame has a firm texture and mildly sweet flavor. You can add it to various dishes such as salads, casseroles, and ramen.
6. Arracacha Root
Arracacha root, also called Virraca, Apio, Apio Criollo, Zanahoria Blanca, Mandioquinha, and Batata-Barona, is a root vegetable similar to parsnip. It is native to the Andes Mountains and very popular in many regions of South America. With over fifty different varieties, one plant yields six pounds of edible roots.
Arracacha root has an appearance similar to ginger and parsnip. It has a gnarled appearance and slightly rough skin covered with dots and bumps. It has firm, starchy flesh that can be ivory or pale yellow. Often used as a substitute for potatoes, Arracacha root is tender and slightly crunchy with a nutty, semi-sweet flavor.
Arugula, also called Rucola, Rocket, Roquette, and Ruchetta, is an ancient green that belongs to the Brassicaceae mustard family. Although native to the Mediterranean, Arugula is a popular salad green in Europe and North America due to its peppery flavor. There are many types of Arugula that vary in appearance and flavor.
Arugula greens have broad, flat leaves and fibrous stems. The smooth and bright green leaves are succulent and crisp. When young, Arugula leaves have a milder, slightly sweet flavor. While mature leaves carry complex peppery flavor reminiscent of mustard and toasted nuts.
Although Avocados are a fruit, they usually serve the role of a vegetable in savory dishes. They are one of the most popular fruits in the United States, commonly eaten as part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There are many varieties of Avocados but the most common are Hass avocados. They are available all year long and have bold green to blackish-purple skin when ripe. Avocados are usually eaten raw and feature a rich, nutty, mildly sweet flavor. You can serve Avocado slices in a salad, puree it for Guacamole, or serve it on toast with eggs and Parmesan cheese.
9. Adzuki Beans
Adzuki beans, also call Aduki beans, Azuki beans, Red Mung beans, and Red beans, commonly grow throughout East Asia and play an important role in various cuisines. The most common cultivar features red beans, but you will also find white, gray, and mottled Adzuki bean varieties. Adzuki beans are widely distributed throughout China, Japan, Korea, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Adzuki beans are usually cooked down with sugar to produce red bean paste. This paste is a common ingredient in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Adzuki beans are an integral part of Chinese dishes such as mooncakes, tangyuan, and zongzi. While in Japan, Adzuki bean paste serves as a filling for various sweets such as mochi, Manjū, and dorayaki.
Aonori, also called Green laver, Sea cabbage, aosa, and parae, is an edible green seaweed rich in minerals and amino acids. Commercial cultivation for Aonori takes place in some bay areas in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. There are many varieties of edible seaweed found around the world.
In Japan, Aonori is available in dried or powder form and serves various culinary purposes. It has a robust, earthy flavor with bright green coloring that stands out in dishes. Aonori serves as flavoring for various Japanese dishes, such as fried noodles, Japanese pancakes, and Isobe mochi.
11. Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash comes in a variety of colors, including green, gold, and white with green being the most common. This is a small to medium-sized, egg-shaped pumpkin with distinctive deep ridges. When young, its smooth rind is bright green but turns dark green with orange or yellow patches with age. The moist and spongy flesh acquires a rich, nutty flavor and dry texture when cooked.
The best way to prepare Acorn Squash is by slicing it in half to scoop out the seeds, then stuffing it with meats, cheese, soup, or vegetables.
Fun fact: Green Acorn squash was one of the first varieties cultivated by Native Americans.
12. Ash Gourd
The Ash Gourd has many names, including Wax gourd, Winter gourd, White gourd, Tallow gourd, Ash pumpkin, Winter melon, (Alu) Puhul, and Chinese Preserving Melon. It is native to South and Southeast Asia, and grows widely throughout Asia. Mature Ash gourds develop a waxy coating which increase their shelf life up to a year.
Similar to other varieties of winter squash, you can store the Ash Gourd for many months. It serves as an ingredient in many Asian dishes from Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indian, Chinese, and Filipino cuisine.
13. Agathi Keerai
Agathi Keerai (Sesbania grandiflora) has many names, including Akatthi, Agati, Agate, Katurai, Turi, and West Indian Pea. The tree grows edible flowers, leaves, and pods which are common in Southeast and South Asian dishes. The plant is native to Southeast Asia and a common sight in home gardens. It grows in rich soil and prefers hot and humid climates.
The leaves and flowers of the plant serve as an ingredient in various traditional dishes from Indian, Cambodian, Thai, Sri Lankan, Javanese, and Vietnamese cuisine. The leaves have a bitter, tart flavor while the young pods have a sour, sweet flavor.
Aubergines, more popularly known as Eggplants and Brinjals, are a plant species cultivated for their edible fruit. While generally used as a vegetable in cooking, it is a berry by botanical definition. It has a firm, spongy texture and bitter flavor. The seeds and skin are edible, but only when cooked. Although Aubergines somewhat lack flavor and nutrition, their ability to readily absorb accompanying flavors makes them incredibly versatile.
Raw Aubergines have a bitter and astringent flavor, but cooking them develops a rich, complex flavor. When cooked with fats and sauces, Aubergines readily take on their flavor and develop deeper flavors and soft texture. One of the most popular dishes that uses Aubergines is Eggplant Parmesan.
The Alfalfa plant, also called Lucerne, is a flowering legume cultivated as an important forage crop. The name Alfalfa is used in North America, but the name Lucerne is common in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. The plant’s leaves resemble clover when young, but mature plants have elongated leaves.
Although the primary use for Alfalfa has been livestock feed, the sprouts also serve as an ingredient in South Indian cuisine. You can use Alfalfa sprouts and greens as garnish for soups and salads.
16. Annatto Seeds
Annatto seeds are the seeds of the spiky, heart-shaped fruit of the Bixa orellana shrub, which is native to tropical regions of Mexico and Brazil. The seeds are contained within blackish-brown hairy pods that grow in clusters. The two main purposes of the seeds are food dye and seasoning. Their strong aroma is reminiscent of pepper, mustard, and nutmeg which lingers on the palate. Annatto seeds are rich in antioxidants, calcium, fiber, and folic acid. You can use them to impart a red-orange hue to dishes, or for adding peppery and mustard flavors to any dish.
Agretti is the Italian name for Salsola soda, also called oppositeleaf Russian Thistle, opposite-leaved saltwort, and Barilla plant. Although rarely commercially cultivated in modern times, Agretti is still fairly popular in Italian cuisine. This herbaceous green has needle-like branches that look similar to chives and Fennel fronds.
Agretti has a flavor similar to Spinach, but without the astringent notes. The briny, tart notes complement the bitterness of Agretti. Its crisp, succulent texture makes it a great salad green. If you want to try Agretti, this great recipe for Agretti pasta tastes as good as it looks.
18. Asian Radish
The Asian Radish has many names including Daikon radish, Winter radish, Japanese radish, Chinese radish, and Long white radish. There are many varieties of Asian radishes that vary in size, appearance, and color. While they are native to the Mediterranean and coastal regions along the Black Sea, They are one of the most popular vegetables in Japan.
Asian radishes have a crisp, firm texture and mildly sweet, peppery, tangy flavor. They are suitable for raw and cooked consumption, but cooked Asian radishes have a milder potato-like flavor. Their flavor goes well with mushrooms, peanuts, thyme, and duck.
19. Abalone Mushrooms
Abalone Mushrooms have many names, such as the White Elf, Akuratake, and King Mushroom. They are a variety of Oyster mushrooms that are very popular in Asian cuisine and often a staple in vegetarian dishes. They are medium to large in size and have an oblong, vase-like shape. Their smooth skin ranges from white to ivory, while their flesh is spongy, meaty, and succulent. The distinctive feature of these mushrooms is the fine gold lines present under the cap.
These mushrooms are edible when cooked. They go well in stir-fries coconut curries, soups, teriyaki, and tempura. Their velvety mouthfeel and buttery, peppery flavor shine in any dish.
20. Asian Tempest Garlic
Asian Tempest garlic, also called Seoul Sister, is a very popular variety of Asiatic garlic known for its fiery flavor. It is native to South Korea, but not as well-known in the United States. Asian Tempest garlic is a hardneck, which means it lacks a stalk or the stalk is less woody.
Raw Asian Tempest garlic has an intensely spicy flavor that lingers on the palate. When cooked, it acquires a sweet and tangy flavor reminiscent of sweet pepper. You can use Asian Tempest garlic raw or cooked, but sparingly since it is very spicy. Add it to lasagne, pasta, and stir-fries for a sweet, spicy flavor.