No-prep veggies
January 15, 2015 9:49 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to eat more vegetables. Difficulty level: I want to avoid prep (peeling, chopping, cooking) as much as humanly possible. On the plus side, I am happy to just eat things unpeeled, bite into a whole tomato/cucumber/whatever, and eat the veggies raw. Which veggies are edible/delicious given those criteria?

Things I eat already: avocados (I just cut them in half and eat them with a spoon), tomatoes (bite into them whole, or cut in half and bite), spinach (buy it in a bag).

Other things I've thought of: asparagus, peas, cucumbers, kale, mushrooms, hummus.

Things that would not work: squash (they're too big and too hard to bite raw), onions (need to chop them, and you wouldn't eat an onion by itself), potatoes (need to cook them). Feel free to prove me wrong, though!

Things that are borderline: bell peppers (can you reasonably eat them without slicing them up?), carrots (can you get away without peeling them?), broccoli (sure, you can break them apart with your hands or scissors, but can you do it without getting the little green bits everywhere?)

No dietary restrictions, and I generally like all vegetables except celery and olives. May be willing to buy pre-made (like hummus) or pre-sliced, depending on price.

Ideally, I'd be able to make a "no-prep salad" for part of my lunch, where instead of cutting everything up and mixing it together, I'd just put each veggie in a row in front of me, whole, and then take bites from each one, alternating as I went. Currently I often do this with an avocado, two tomatoes, and some bread.
posted by danceswithlight to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
You don't need to peel carrots, just wash them well.

I buy my brocolli and cauliflower prepackaged.

If you can find small romaine hearts (locally, I can find the small ones at costco, the regular grocery store ones are kind of too long and tall), they can be pretty tasty to just bite into the whole head.

Cucumbers. Mushrooms (again, wash well). Snap peas.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:55 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can just cut the top and bottom off a bell pepper, push the seeds/core out, and eat it like that. Like, you can break it in your hands. It's pretty easy.

I eat unpeeled carrots from the garden all the time (washed well) so I assume that's OK too.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:57 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, you can eat bell peppers whole. The seeds and ribs are edible but slightly bitter, which is why most people slice it up first, but you can either adjust to the taste or just separate those parts with your fingers.

I never, ever peel carrots unless I want them to look pretty.

My dad eats sweeter onion varieties like an apple, too (ie, red onions or vidalias). He just peels them by hand.
posted by muddgirl at 10:03 AM on January 15, 2015

Red bell peppers raw are like one of the best things in the world.
posted by BStrummin at 10:04 AM on January 15, 2015 [10 favorites]

Beans. Sure you get left with the stem but you can just eatem. I did last night with Hummus and hot sauce (Homemade and I call it wow wow sauce [with respect to Sir Terry])...

posted by mrgroweler at 10:04 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Salted radishes are mouth-wateringly sweet and spicy. Sublime when eaten while reading John Irving.
We were nearly out of the village when Siggy saw the windowbox hung to a second-story window of a gasthaus.

“Radishes!” said Siggy. “I saw their little greens peeking over!”

We drove up under the window, and I steadied the motorcycle while Siggy stood on the gas tank; on his toes, he would just get his hands over the rim of the box.

“I can feel them,” he said. “They were just watered—sweet snappy baby ones!”

He stuffed them in his duckjacket, and we drove through Ulmerfeld, still following the Ybbs. A mile or so out of the village, we cut through a meadowbank to the river.

“After all, Graff,” said Siggy. “This day still owes us a piece of our fifty schillings.”

And with that for grace, we opened our beers with Frau Freina’s opener, and salted our radishes from Freina’s shaker. Freina had a wondrously unclogged shaker. The radishes were crunchy and moist, and Siggy planted the greens.

“Do you think they’ll grow?” he said.

“Well, anything’s possible, Siggy.”

“Yes, anything is,” he said, and we flicked our close-nibbled stumps to the river, watching them bob under and spin to the crest of the current again, like hats with pinwheels on the heads of drowning boys.
(From Setting Free the Bears)
posted by headnsouth at 10:06 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hard squashes are not safe to eat raw, but zucchini and yellow squash are common items on crudite platters. I find them super-bland but they transport hummus etc just fine.

I buy broccoli in 3lb bags of florets, and most of them are biteable. I frequently make a little salad with just a handful of that and some dressing, or use them to eat hummus.

You can find cauliflower in a bag too, though I never see it in the giant bags I can get broccoli in.

I eat romaine by peeling off the leaves and using them as carriers (I avoid bready carbs, so I make tacos and sandwiches this way). You can do the same with endive, little cabbages (well, any size cabbage really), pretty much any whole leaf lettuce. Kale is delicious, and you can also find it cut up in bags if you don't want to deal with washing it.

Brussels sprouts are good raw. You can usually find them loose in the produce section and bagged in the bag-salad section.

Most green beans are good raw, though the larger ones can be a little fibrous. Radishes are good. I don't know what the experience of biting into jicama would be, but it's edible.

If big bell peppers are too fibrous for you, most stores sell bags of little sweet peppers which are less seedy and dense.

Lots of vegetables are available already prepared for you, if you walk through and look. I don't love eating unpeeled carrots because though they have not historically been a major vector for e.coli, they are also peeled and washed by most people before eating. I buy the "baby" carrots in the bag - maybe it's unnecessary, it just makes me feel better. For the same reasons I'd be reluctant to suggest parsnips. Maybe if you washed them well.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:08 AM on January 15, 2015

Ok, stick with me here: Frozen sweet corn. Also frozen edamame. Don't even really need to let them thaw.
posted by mskyle at 10:11 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

I will eat a small head of radicchio like it's an apple but I have been told that this is kind of weird. I peel of the first few ratty looking layers and go from there. If I'm feeling super fancy I might dab some olive oil and salt on it.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:14 AM on January 15, 2015

Frozen peas. Microwaved, with a dash of sundried tomato pesto.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:18 AM on January 15, 2015

Normal sized carrots are kind of off-putting to me, but BABY Carrots.... yum!
posted by JenThePro at 10:28 AM on January 15, 2015

Yeah, bell peppers eaten like an apple have gotten my family odd looks, but they're delicious. I don't peel carrots or cucumbers either. Yum!
posted by ldthomps at 10:28 AM on January 15, 2015

For things that aren't great raw, you might actually be able to buy them cooked and prepped pretty easily. My grocery store's salad bar sells things like roasted beets, artichoke hearts, etc in addition to the regular chopped tomatoes/cucumbers/peppers --I don't bother assembling a salad at the store, I just buy a little container of beets, a little container of peppers, etc and make little salads as I go.

I avoided it for years assuming it would be prohibitively expensive. It is certainly more expensive than buying everything un-prepped, but I figure my time and health are worth the $3 or so it costs to avoid the epic bloody battle that is roasting beets at home.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:30 AM on January 15, 2015

I eat raw green beans and sugar snap peas ALL the time.
posted by kinetic at 10:31 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sugar snap peas, raw in their pods, are my favorite. They're expensive if they're not in season, but when they are, they're delicious.
posted by a hat out of hell at 10:32 AM on January 15, 2015

slightly off track, but consider a juicer.
posted by H21 at 10:32 AM on January 15, 2015

I buy large bags of mixed frozen vegetables (peas, beans, broccoli …).

You do have to cook them, or at least defrost them. However:
+ They’re cheap (so long as you stick to “own brand” bags).
+ They keep for ever.
+ The cooking really doesn’t take long and it’s very easy. You just throw them into some water on the hob. Once the water boils, the vegetables are ready.
+ They give you a good healthy variety of vegetables.
posted by HoraceH at 10:33 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Baby bell peppers!
posted by Ms Vegetable at 10:40 AM on January 15, 2015

have someone else prep it for you... check out the salad bar at your local grocery store.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 10:47 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like raw snap peas, snow peas, broccoli and cauliflower. I eat them with peanut butter. I also like raw beets without any accompaniment, though with them I like to peel the outer coating first.

What I mainly wanted to add is that you might not want to eat mushrooms raw. They may contain carcinogens whose impact is only reduced with cooking.
posted by icemill at 10:49 AM on January 15, 2015

potatoes (need to cook them)

Nope. Not true at all. I ate raw potatoes all the time as a kid. But there are a few provisos:

They are part of the nightshade family, so potentially poisonous. My understanding is that if they have been exposed to sunlight and turned green, that is not good and those parts should be cut out. I believe these parts also tend to taste a bit bitter.

A lot of potatoes have a thick, not so tasty skin and a lot of little bits that are best cut out before cooking. So if you want to do nothing more than wash them and eat them, I recommend you get "new" potatoes and/or fingerlings. This is the potato version of baby carrots. The skin is thin, the quality is high and I often cook with them by washing them and tossing them into a baking dish whole (with chicken, butter, spices), or I may cut the larger ones in half (or thirds if they are really a lot bigger than the others) to speed cooking time and/or make sure the big ones and little ones cook evenly.

Raw potatoes are actually quite yummy and I think you are missing out and should try some post haste. :-)

Not exactly the same thing, but I have done "salads" in the past that consisted of a plate of things like roast nuts, dried cherries, fresh grapes, Feta cheese, organic potato chips and so on.
posted by Michele in California at 10:58 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a little bit tangential from your question, but it might still interest you:
if you buy cleaned/precut vegetables that come in a plastic bag, you can often just pierce the bag and then put it in the microwave, and steam your vegetables inside the bag. Super easy and tasty!
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:07 AM on January 15, 2015

I was served raw baby eggplant in a restaurant. It was delicious but it turns out I have a potentially life-threatening allergy to raw eggplant, with caution?

Obvious but for completeness: cherry tomatoes

Did someone already mention the bags of frozen precookded edamame? Just let them thaw (or don't, whatever floats your boat).
posted by chocotaco at 11:09 AM on January 15, 2015

Snap peas, haricot vert and young Romano green beans (haricot are sometimes called French green beans — they're a varietal), asparagus if you can get it same day it's picked (otherwise, it gets woody in a hurry), tomatoes, I'd advise grabbing some fresh basil for your salad (maybe some other herbs too), broccoli, romanesco, beet greens (wash thoroughly because they pick up dirt like whoa), dandelion greens (bitter though), arugula, carrots… I'd also toss in something like apples and nuts to your salad, since they can help you get more variation out of the same thing every day.
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 AM on January 15, 2015

I like Persian or Japanese cucumbers specifically for snacking on unpeeled. I think regular or traditional cucumbers are a bit too thick skinned but YMMV. Nthing sugar snap peas.

Also, Nthing frozen shelled peas and edamame. And occasionally frozen sweet corn from Trader Joes.
posted by moxiequz at 11:15 AM on January 15, 2015

Sugar snap peas are delicious!

I also like red cabbage on salads which you can buy pre-shredded in a bag.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 12:04 PM on January 15, 2015

These are great! I especially like the idea of getting new/fingerling potatoes for eating raw, and buying a few items like roasted beets pre-made from a salad bar.

Keep 'em coming!
posted by danceswithlight at 12:06 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

You really don't need to peel most vegetables. I was told that the majority of the vitamins in carrots and potatoes and many fruits are directly under the skin, so peeling them is a reduction in nutrition value. (I don't know how true that is.) The peels themselves can also be enjoyable-- like potato peels cooked in butter, or carrot peel shreds and cream cheese. (Carrot shreds, canned pineapple, raisins, walnuts, and cream cheese is dynamite in a sandwich, PS.) It wasn't until I grew up and went to college that I met people who peeled most of their vegetables, and I still don't get why you would, unless you were preparing a garnish that had to look a certain way.

On the other hand, anything with a skin that is more rind than peel should be peeled a little. If you're not up for prep on something like a Jicama, you can just cut it in wedges and nibble around the rind.

My one tip for bell peppers is to cut them in half the short way and use a spoon to scoop out the insides, and just spit out any stray seeds.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:14 PM on January 15, 2015

Pre-sliced from Trader Joes are relatively inexpensive. Offerings vary but I have bought stuff like pre-sliced brussels sprouts slaw and cleaned, picked over kale. There's a thing called "tuscan kale" which is sweeter.

I would also suggest getting a box of Maldon Salt to sprinkle on your veggies. The flakes are enchanting as they melt and add a very nice bite. And a lemon to squeeze over them, and maybe some olive oil.
posted by BibiRose at 12:18 PM on January 15, 2015

Since beans are apparently part of the mix here and you are willing to consider something like humus, I will add tofu to the list. You can eat it as is, no cooking required (it is technically bean curd).

I have never done so and I have no idea how appealing that would be. However, I did like it fried with spices. So if plain tofu is just not cutting it for you, you might do some research on what kinds of sauces or spices are traditionally used and do some experimenting to find something that appeals to you.

The feta cheese I mentioned earlier is pretty common in things like Greek salads. Feta and tofu are both good sources of protein, if that matters to your salad plans.
posted by Michele in California at 12:38 PM on January 15, 2015

at my local grocery store, they sell veggies in a steamer bag. Some have brocolli and carrots, some are stir-fry like veggies, etc - and I pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and BAM, thats it.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 12:48 PM on January 15, 2015

The brand is called Eat Right, here is their website.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 12:49 PM on January 15, 2015

Your profile says Boston... Join a CSA! There's a lot in the area. They'll deliver super fresh in season organic veg to your door. Since you're eating raw, they'll be safer and likely taste better.

I found while working on such farms that almost anything can be snacked on, except winter squash and potatoes. Fresh raw sweet corn is amazing.

Oh you know, I don't think I'd eat eggplant or okra raw but maybe that's just me!

Instead of broccoli, try broccoli rabe.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:12 PM on January 15, 2015

Kohlrabi - I gather they are not necessarily widely available in the US but they are lovely raw although I do like to peel them.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:59 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

We've had mention of bean sprouts, which are certainly the most economical of the sprouts, but there is a whole wide world of sprouts out there that are all delicious. Radish sprouts, garlic sprouts, broccoli sprouts, and then there's the parallel wide world of sprouted grains. You can sprout lentils, chickpeas... the texture changes completely and they are super tasty. Also sprouted peanuts! They become crispy and green pea tasting, quite surprising at first but interesting and very healthy tasting. You can buy all of these pre-sprouted, but if you can bring yourself to do a weekly sprouting session or something, they are not too labour intensive and certainly much more economical to produce at home.
posted by kaspen at 3:14 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Potatoes are incredibly easy to cook in the microwave. Poke a few holes in them (I use my fingernails), and zap for 5?min. Till they go wrinkly.

Brocollini. Frozen peas.
posted by kjs4 at 3:15 PM on January 15, 2015

Raw turnips are sort of radish-y and yum!
I don't think anyone has mentioned Jerusalem artichokes, which are delicious crunchy tubers.
posted by the_blizz at 3:25 PM on January 15, 2015

We just bought carrot chips for the first time this week (not like fried carrot potato-esque chips... just carrots cut in a chip shape) and they are AWESOME as a vessel for peanut butter, guacamole, chicken salad, etc.
posted by raspberrE at 4:01 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

My parents have a photo somewhere of me, age: still-in-a-diaper, standing in the garden, happily chewing on a zucchini the size of my arm.

So zucchini and other summer squash are good for this. Definitely better with some sort of flavorful dip, though.

If you get cucumbers, try many varieties. The big dark-green ones are fine, but I prefer the slightly acidic bite of lemon cucumbers. Armenian cucumbers are a nice mild variety.

Experiment with greens. Kale is good. So are mustard, frisee, escarole, all sorts of different lettuces, and even dandelion greens.

jrobin276's suggestion of a CSA is excellent. Also, look for small organic food stores or co-ops and local farmers markets, since they'll usually provide a wider selection of tasty produce. I enjoy finding obscure vegetables that most farmers don't grow, and heirloom varieties of the old favorites.
posted by sibilatorix at 4:21 PM on January 15, 2015


And not just cucumbers. Go to a good market and get all sorts of pickled vegetables. They're usually chopped/sliced to get them into jars, so they're finger foods for the most part.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:24 PM on January 15, 2015

OP, do not join a CSA (at this time).

You sound like you're (no offense) picky about your vegetables, and you're looking for more veggies that you can enjoy the way that you know you can enjoy them. This is awesome.

A CSA will provide you with a regular box of vegetables that you don't get to choose and might not know how to deal with or like. This is also awesome, for some people (I've done many years as a CSA member and I'm only taking a break because I'm living alone ATM). But it's not awesome for what you want right now.

What if your CSA has a bumper year of veggies that don't do so well raw or unchopped? One year, my CSA was all about nettles in the early spring, then eggplants, then sweet potatoes. Not because the farmers had necessarily planned it that way, it's just what did well that year. Those veggies aren't very compatible with your walking salad idea (which sounds kind of brilliant and I'm considering stealing, btw). And you could get boxes of them, week after week. Not very conducive to good feelings about vegetables, really.

CSAs are great, but not if you're someone who wants a level of control over the vegetables that they eat week by week.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:11 PM on January 15, 2015

I'm curious as to why you want to eat more vegetables. Is it to be full on less calories, or to get more nutrition? If it's the latter, you need to consider which vegetables you eat too. And a lot of the really good stuff is in vegetables that need a little prep, either because they don't taste well raw or because you just can't bite into them.

I'm in it for the latter, and my trick is to get a good high quality blender. I bought a Vitamix which costs an arm, a leg and a kidney in Europe, but you get get a refurbished one in the US for a good price.

Collard greens like kale and beet greens are two of my favorites. I put them in the blender together with ginger and fresh juice, blend the crap out of it and drink. The reason you want a high power blender is that they're powerful enough to actually rip the cells apart, giving you access to the nutrients (essentially what you do when you chew, except that some greens are nigh impossible to chew well if they haven't been prepared).

A bonus: you can make soup directly in the high powered blenders. Just put raw vegetables, water, stock and let it run for about 8 minutes and you have hot soup.

Blenders are also easier to clean than juicers. I never used my juicer much.

(I realize this might sound like I'm a shill for Vitamix, but I'm not. I really like mine, but I believe that a Blendtech is probably just as good)
posted by kazarnowicz at 1:57 AM on January 16, 2015

Careful with the unpeeled cucumbers, at least the standard American kind. For me, eating a whole one unpeeled would mean a bad stomachache.
posted by lakeroon at 2:05 AM on January 16, 2015

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