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List of Exotic Vegetables, Part Deux: Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato & Other Greats

Updated on February 11, 2012

Purple sweet potatoes, salty sea beans and a crazed cauliflower help complete this list of eight exotic vegetables. See pictures, watch videos and get great recipes!

Okinawan purple sweet potato
Okinawan purple sweet potato

Sweet Potato Snack Truck

Bubur caca, a sweet potato dessert
Bubur caca, a sweet potato dessert

5. Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato

The purple sweet potato was first cultivated on the island of Okinawa. Now it's enjoyed across Asia. During winters in Japan and China, street vendors sell baked sweet potatoes from their trucks -- but don't imagine cheery trucks with carnival music. The potato vendors drive rather plain vans and squawk through megaphones as they traverse the town.

Purple Potato Recipes

Here are three recipes centered on the Okinawan purple sweet potato. Learn to make bubur caca (a coconut and sweet potato dessert), sweet potato ice-cream and homemade baby food.

Bubur Caca or Bubur Cha Cha

This sweet potato dessert is especially popular in Malaysia and Singapore. While there are many variations, it basically involves dicing Okinawan sweet potatoes and steaming or boiling them until almost soft. Finish cooking the diced potatoes in a mixture of coconut milk and brown sugar.

To make the dessert even more colorful, use both purple and orange sweet potatoes. Other popular additions include chopped banana, tapioca pearls (sago) and pandan leaves.

More sweet potato recipes:

Purple Sweet Potato Ice-Cream

Homemade Baby Food: Purple Potatoes

Kohlrabi, a turnipy cabbage
Kohlrabi, a turnipy cabbage

Kohlrabi Nutrition

One serving of kohlrabi provides 36 calories and 140% of the RDA for Vitamin C. It also has two grams of protein and small amounts of sodium, Vitamin A, calcium and iron.


How to Cut Kohlrabi - Make Pretty with Flowers...

6. Kohlrabi, the Cabbage-Turnip

Kohlrabi, a German cabbage, is especially popular in German and Indian dishes. In both cases it's served raw or cooked. How's the flavor? Raw kohlrabi tastes sweet and is reminiscent of broccoli stalks. When cooked, it develops a mildly nutty flavor.

Easy Kohlrabi Recipes

These three recipes complement kohlrabi's flavor with ingredients such as turnips, dill and sesame.

Crisp Kohlrabi Salad

  1. Combine salad greens with chopped kohlrabi, radishes and turnips.
  2. Toss with a dill dressing.
  3. Sprinkle with fennel.
  4. Garnish with a dollop of cottage cheese, shredded carrots and/or cherry tomatoes.

Sauteed Greens

Sauté kohlrabi in a pan of olive oil, minced garlic and red chile pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or drizzle with sesame oil for extra flavor. Alternatively, flavor the greens with peanut sauce.

Kohlrabi Juice for Weight Loss

If you have a juicer, make a homemade drink using celery, carrot and kohlrabi. The juice has countless health benefits and can help you drop extra pounds.

Sea beans are naturally salty.
Sea beans are naturally salty.

Harvesting Sea Beans in California

7. Sea Beans

Sea beans, also known as pickleweed, grow in coastal regions and brackish marshes. They're salty and citrusy at once. Yum!

Sea Bean Nutrition

Sea beans are a good source of calcium, iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. However, because sea beans are naturally infused with lots of sodium, certain people shouldn't eat them. You know who you are.

Sea Bean Recipes

Sea beans taste great in salads. They also make a delicious snack or stir fry addition. If you eat animals, you might enjoy sea beans with halibut and other fish.

Easy Sea Bean Bruschetta

Adapt a traditional Israeli or Turkish salad recipe by substituting salt with sea beans. Three easy steps!

1. Dice and combine tomatoes, onions, cucumber and sea beans. If you like garlic, add minced garlic too.

2. Toss with olive oil and pepper.

3. Serve on toasted French bread.

The next recipe combines sea beans with scallops, garlic, bay leaves and other flavorful ingredients.

A Seafood Sea Bean Recipe

Roman cauliflower (click to enlarge)
Roman cauliflower (click to enlarge)

8. Roman Cauliflower

Amazing! The Roman cauliflower grows in logarithmic spirals to create trippy fractal patterns. Each large, spiraling bud is composed of smaller spiraling buds. You can click on the photo to get a larger view.

Roman cauliflower is sometimes called Romanesco broccoli. It's an Italian cousin of the white cauliflower but is prepared like standard broccoli. This vegetable is a great source of carotenoids, fiber and Vitamin C.

In the video below, a chef at an Italian culinary school prepares spaghetti with garlic, thyme, Roman cauliflower, anchovies and other ingredients. For vegetarians, omit the anchovies and substitute dark, "meaty" mushrooms. Magnifico!

Spaghetti with Roman Cauliflower


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    • SantaCruz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Thanks so much, Francesca & Didge! Our planet offers some amazing gifts :-).

    • Didge profile image


      6 years ago from Southern England

      amazing! So creative :)

    • Francesca27 profile image


      6 years ago from Hub Page

      I did not know any of this. Thanks a lot for this hub.

    • SantaCruz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Bless your heart, Cristina McTigue! Please let me know if you try a recipe :). Tomorrow night will be bubur cha cha in my kitchen!

    • profile image

      Cristina McTigue 

      6 years ago

      I loved this article, it was funny, informative and creative. The recipes are fun, easy to learn and quick to make. I look forward to more articles by this wonderful writer.


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