Root to stalk: How to use all parts of the vegetable
August 20, 2019 8:26 AM   Subscribe

When it comes to vegetables, it's all good: secondary edible parts of vegetables (University of Florida Department of Horticulture); how to prepare roots, ends and leaves (SF Gate); 11 delicious vegetable [and fruit] parts you should stop throwing away (Plated Morsel); don't trash the best part of the melon [well, maybe not best -- tl;dr: roast the seeds, they're tasty!]
posted by filthy light thief (67 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
 
Timely and yummy! Best of the web! Off I go to nosh some stems!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:30 AM on August 20, 2019


Raw leaves eaten fresh may even be slightly poisonous in some cases.
Just slightly poisonous. Sounds like a challenge!

BTW: strawberry leaves and apples cores.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:35 AM on August 20, 2019


I once saw a guy feed watermelon rinds to an enormous longhorn bull. The bull was prancing around like a puppy getting a treat. Crunch!
Most of this stuff you used to feed to the chickens or pigs.
posted by Bee'sWing at 8:40 AM on August 20, 2019 [8 favorites]


I've found that carrot stems are too wirey to eat, though I've tried putting them in muslin to help flavor a soup. I could try just the leaves-- they smell good.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 8:42 AM on August 20, 2019


They shrink-wrap the popular parts - the celery and romaine hearts, for example - and cut off and discard all the edible extras. I can only wonder, where have all the beet leaves, carrot tops and leek greens gone?

I HATE THIS SO MUCH. SO MUCH. I have been complaining constantly to my grocery store about this but they still won't sell me the whole broccoli, sweet stems at all.
posted by crush at 8:43 AM on August 20, 2019 [8 favorites]


I'm good with all parts of vegetables. Except beet greens. I fucking hate beet greens.
posted by slogger at 8:50 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


How could this be news to anyone: Scallions.
Oh, interesting, I might try that: Corn cobs.
Uh, no thank you: Watermelon rind.
posted by sfenders at 8:52 AM on August 20, 2019


The depressing flipside of this coin is Famine Foods; things that are edible but only eaten by the local culture in times of dire need. They're important and legitimate food sources but are either so unpalatable or else require so much labor to make edible you only eat them if you're desperate. There's some interesting studies that knowledge of famine foods can last three+ generations even in cultures that haven't seen serious famine in that long a time. Which could be important for the survival of a group of people.

Acorn flour is the example I always think of as a famine food. It's not terrible but it takes a lot of work to leach the bitterness out of it, and even then it's not great. I sometimes wonder if turnips and rutabagas and other old European root vegetables are on their way there; once the potato became common in Europe folks' preferences changed pretty quick.

The linked Wikipedia article above doesn't have a great list. This database is better but doesn't use common names for things.
posted by Nelson at 8:52 AM on August 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


Raw leaves eaten fresh may even be slightly poisonous in some cases.
I had to look in a panic to make sure nobody was talking about rhubarb. You can't cook the poison out of rhubarb greens, but somebody (Neil Gaiman, maybe?) once talked in their blog about finding a cookbook feature rhubarb greens, and I've since heard some folks in person comment about them being edible. They are not. (Gaiman or whoever it was knew better than that cookbook they found.)

TIL: that some people don't eat beet leaves or the green parts of leeks & scallions. Beet greens I get, although I quite like them and grew up eating them (sort of spinach-y for those who haven't tried them), but WTF are you doing with your leeks & scallions that you're throwing away the green part? We always use mushroom/broccoli/cauliflower stems, and celeriac (celery root) is delicious and still sold all over the place here, you just buy it separately from the rest of the celery. I don't remember the last time I peeled a potato; skins on at all times, please.

I also hate the shrink-wrapping of vegetables. So much waste; a lot of that packaging isn't recyclable here, and we take our own bags to the store for veggies anyway (or just leave them loose in the bag, if they aren't wet).
posted by Fish Sauce at 8:54 AM on August 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I've found that carrot stems are too wirey to eat, though I've tried putting them in muslin to help flavor a soup. I could try just the leaves-- they smell good.

Carrot and parsley are in the same family, so you can use the carrot greens as a replacement for parsley. It works out pretty well, and I imagine you can dry the leaves the same way you would dry parsley.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:57 AM on August 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


that's super fascinating, nelson, thank you for sharing!
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:58 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Please send all your broccoli stems to me, as they are the only part of broccoli that I enjoy and I do not understand why people don't eat them as they are clearly the best part and do not in any way make me think there is something weird and wormy brushing against the roof of my mouth as I eat them, unlike broccoli tops.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:59 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Except beet greens. I fucking hate beet greens.
How curious! I regard beet greens as the most delicious type of greens.
Re acorn flour:
You can buy it at a good Korean grocery store. The taste is unremarkable but it is famous for keeping you from feeling hungry for a long time.
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:03 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Bee'sWing: Most of this stuff you used to feed to the chickens or pigs.

Or dogs. My doggo loves any crunchy vegetable parts. The softest she'll eat are broccoli leaves. This morning, she got a bunch of carrot peels, tips and tops, plus a few carrot quarters that fell on the floor.

I'm a cub scout den leader, and the 2015 edition of the Cub Scout book has a section on composting, which is a huge change from when I was a scout, back in the 1980s and '90s. I'll add in "look for recipes for those bits of your vegetables, and roast your seeds with your parents," and "you can also feed some things to your pets, but you should talk to your vet first."


jacquilynne: Please send all your broccoli stems to me, as they are the only part of broccoli that I enjoy and I do not understand why people don't eat them as they are clearly the best part and do not in any way make me think there is something weird and wormy brushing against the roof of my mouth as I eat them, unlike broccoli tops.

Sorry, ours are claimed. My son loves broccoli stems, and are one of his top favorite veggies. Which means we have a lot of broccoli tops to roast, steam or dip in dressing.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:07 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also, I saw a cooking video that I thought was from Bon Apetite or GQ that showed how to use a range of vegetables, root to stalk, in a series of recipes, but for the life of me I can't find it now. That was my inspiration for this post, along with the Salon article on roasting melon seeds.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:11 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


The other nice thing about broccoli stems is that the cross sections are interesting shapes. Very nice in stir-fries.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


I actually am more likely to eat the greens from the bunches of CSA beets I get than I am to eat the actual beets. Same too with the little bunches of tiny white turnips we always get; the turnips themselves are right on the edge of what i can digest comfortably, but the greens i have no problem with, so I usually snip the turnips off the greens and save them for when I'm feeling I can handle them, and the greens get snarfed right away.

I currently have 3 ziploc baggies of tiny topless turnips in my fridge waiting for me to figure out what the heck to do with them.

Another option for radish and carrot greens - make pesto out of them. I have a mini-size food processor that is perfect for such things - I stuff it full of those greens, add a clove or two of garlic and a handful of nuts, a little grated parmaesan, and then a drizzle of olive oil to start; then I process it all, drizzling in more oil if I need it. And those pestos, like any, can be frozen; I have an ice cube tray that's reserved for culinary storage, and after making the pesto I stuff it into the various wells of the tray and freeze, which gives me little cubes of the frozen pestos that I pop out of the tray and into a freezer baggie. Each cube is about two tablespoons' worth, which makes it easy to just fish out however much I need and either thaw before tossing with pasta or throw straight out of the freezer and into a pot of soup.

Speaking of soup - carrot greens and the green parts of leeks and the leaves of celery are also good for vegetable stock. Just throw it all in a pot with enough water to cover (maybe a little extra) and simmer for about an hour. Mushroom stems can also be used, although they do have a strong flavor so you may want to save that batch of stock for mushroom soup only.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Oh, and an aside to the people who saw what I said about whether pesto can be frozen -

There's a lot of conflicting opinions about whether pesto can be frozen, mainly because of the cheese part. Cheese doesn't freeze all that great, and so you'll see some pesto recipes that say that you should leave the cheese out if you're going to freeze it.

However, I went to a cooking store and asked them for a definitive answer; they said that the problem with freezing cheese is more of a structural integrity issue, and freezing like a hunk of parmaesan would do things to the texture. However, with pesto you've blitzed the cheese up anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

So it comes down to whatever you're comfortable with. Add cheese if you want and it's easier that way. If you're more comfortable holding back, don't. It's your kitchen and you can do what works best for you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on August 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


Carrot greens make for some great pesto. Bonus points: cheaper than basil.

On preview: or, just read EmpressCallipygos’ comment.
posted by myotahapea at 9:18 AM on August 20, 2019


I regularly freeze homemade pesto. Roasted beet pesto, kale pesto, whatever. Turns out fine.
posted by suelac at 9:20 AM on August 20, 2019


Watermelon rinds (minus the dark green peel) can be pickled, and indeed pickled watermelon rind is still sold commercially, although it's not nearly as common as it used to be. Depending on the pickling solution used, the taste and texture is basically identical to pickled cucumber.
posted by jedicus at 9:20 AM on August 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I dislike the taste of carrot skins, and using peelings in stock tastes like adding dirt. Do onion skins add flavor? Really? Broccoli and cauliflower stems are tasty, and quite nice mashed. Beet greens, yes, please. Shrink-wrapping veg. is stupidly wasteful.

But. Vegetables already take time and effort. They are usually pretty clean, but probably need some rinsing, potatoes need a scrub. If you wash lettuce, you have to dry it, preferably with a salad spinner. Chopping, cutting off bruised bits. Some winter squash takes muscle to peel and seed. Cleaning up all the mess. You're composting those peeling, aren't you? Peeling beets is not actually fun. Etc. Whatever it takes to get to get you to eat vegetables is fine with me. If the only way you will bring home a potato to microwave is shrink-wrapped, I will raise an eyebrow, mostly at the store for being venal. I do put misc. veg. in soups, I make stock from the turkey bones, and will ask to bring the turkey carcass home if you don't. I am concerned about food wasted in processing, but I waste vegetables because I forget there's a cucumber in the drawer. It's part of the cost of having vegetables on hand. I often feel that nutritionists are going to disapprove of all food practices, and I suspect I am not alone.

With all that olive oil, pesto freezes nicely. If you're worried about the cheese,make it without, and add freshly grated when you use it.
posted by theora55 at 9:24 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Uh, no thank you: Watermelon rind.

My extended family in-law being Mennonites LOVE watermelon. I mean sure who doesn't love a nice ripe watermelon at the height of summer but the extent that they have a complex cultural & culinary history with the watermelon was pretty surprising to me. It'd never occur to me to pickle watermelon for instance (which I liked a lot). But one of the interesting things with them is that there is a divide about eating the rinds - some Mennonites love eating pickled rinds and for others it is thought of as over-the-top poisonous or just weird.

I come from a culinary tradition where frugality is a big part of the culture so I ate all parts of the plant (and for better or worse the animals). We'd save the corn cobs to make soup stock. Celery & Leek greens would be saved to flavour things as a l'herbes salées. Celery roots is a common vegetable for us. Stems of cauliflowers and broccoli would get steamed. Melon and pumpkin and zucchini seeds were roasted. Peach kernels were saved. Tomato stems would be saved for putting in long cooking sauce. So I'm cool with most parts of the vegetable. But as someone who grew up eating soup made out of radish, beet and various other greens I will say this - I'm not a fan. To me, and this is me being generous, they all have some variation of tasting like dirt.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:25 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ashwagandha - your mention of l'herbes salees caught my eye, may I ask where you're from?....

(I only recently encountered l'herbes salees thanks to a gift of a cookbook on Acadian cooking from an aunt and uncle, in a nod to my maternal grandmother's having been from Acadian New Brunswick. The Acadian cooking traditions had been shed by the time my mother grew up and I came along, but we've all been gradually re-capturing that a bit.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on August 20, 2019


I waste vegetables because I forget there's a cucumber in the drawer. It's part of the cost of having vegetables on hand.

My apartment's fridge has opaque drawers, and we forgot produce in them so often that they are now beer and seltzer drawers and produce lives in the main fridge, where we will actually see and remember it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2019 [9 favorites]


Fish Sauce: I also hate the shrink-wrapping of vegetables

At my neighborhood grocery store, I buy a quarter of a watermelon; it is wrapped in plastic. I give the checkout clerk my reusable (plastic, mostly) bag, and they ask, "Do you want this in a plastic bag?"

When I reply, "You mean a third plastic layer?" some of them laugh but most look sheepish, and a few admit they have been yelled at by other customers. The same thing happens with meat, they add. THREE LAYERS! If I was that worried about contamination, I wouldn't buy the stuff in the first place.

Recently I ordered a bunch of reusable mesh veggie bags off some Amazon vendor, and they have proven very satisfactory for me and for the clerks. My wife misses getting free kitchen garbage bags, so we still need to address that, but I count it as a win.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:53 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yellow onion skins add a nice caramel color to stock. Celery leaves are the most intensely flavored part of the plant- these are great to add to stock or soup near the end of cooking.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:54 AM on August 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


l'herbes salees

French Canadian from Northern Canada - descended from Acadians and southern Quebecois. And maybe some Northern Quebecois in there too.

All French Canadians had some regional or personal variation of it. L'herbes salées, the name just means salted herbs, can be made with all kinds of things depending on what you had on hand and what taste profile you're looking for but especially the stems and bits we don't typically use - my grandmother hated the taste of summer & winter savoury so she actively avoided salted herbs with savoury but her mother always had a heavy hand with the savoury (and the lard). It was an important way for French Canadians to add more flavour, nourishment and about all brightness during those long cold winters. I'm not sure if you see it anymore but when I was a kid, you'd see the home made versions for sale in the little stores in the small villages. We'd use it in soups, stuffing and gravies but you could use it in a salad dressing or sauce or even directly on something like a French Canadian chimichurri sauce. Unsurprisingly It is pretty salty though so you need to be aware when you use it to keep an eye on your seasoning (or have the potatoes on hand).
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:56 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Celery leaves are the best part of the bloody mary.
posted by crush at 10:00 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


If you don't have time or energy to do so you should feel zero shame for chucking the extra parts of fruits and vegetables. If you want to do this stuff, cool more power to you but the rest of us don't have time, space, or means to roast off pans of seeds or hoard veggie scraps for stock.
posted by Ferreous at 10:15 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


"I sometimes wonder if turnips and rutabagas and other old European root vegetables are on their way there; once the potato became common in Europe folks' preferences changed pretty quick."

Rutabaga is fucking delicious and I will not hear otherwise! (Also it is HELLA nutritious, it's chock full of calcium for a vegetable!)

But no, yeah, my family eats rutabaga because my Irish peasant ancestors ate potatoes for everyday and rutabaga for holidays. When they came to the US, my great-grandmother insisted on serving rutabaga at every holiday so her kids would remember where they came from. We serve rutabaga every Thanksgiving and Christmas for the same reason. It is, admittedly, a bit of an acquired taste. But it's really delicious cubed and roasted, and it's just sweet enough to add to things like potpies instead of carrots. It's also really good mashed, although the peppery, slightly harsh flavor of the rutabaga comes through really strongly without any maillard reactions to mellow it. You can mash it 50/50 with potatoes if you're a rutabaga beginner and now you have healthy mashed potatabagas full of calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamins!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:25 AM on August 20, 2019 [13 favorites]


I hadn't heard the term before, but I've heard that our beloved (or whatever) Minnesota lutefisk is famine food from the old countries that got blessed as "cultural" so now it's preserved as one of the traditions that remind us of our ancestors.
posted by traveler_ at 10:34 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


l'herbes salees

French Canadian from Northern Canada - descended from Acadians and southern Quebecois. And maybe some Northern Quebecois in there too.


Cool! Grandma was from the Acadian part of New Brunswick, but her family emigrated to Cape Cod when she was about six or seven, so that's very much a tenuous family heritage thing that some of us are trying to delve into now.

Speaking of Cape Cod, the New England Frugality also probably had a hand in things when it comes to how I use bits of vegetables, plus my own dicey financial situation in recent years; a college friend once described her recipe for what she called "survival soup", where you do things like save up the stems and tops and bits of vegetables over the course of the week, and then on the weekend you turn the whole thing into a soup, either using all the bits to flavor stock or pureeing it all if it's got more heft to it. Helps with stretching a budget. To this day I have bags in the freezer into which I will chuck the green bits of leeks, the leaves from celery, and bones from chicken dishes, and when I have enough I will pull out a bag and dump it into a pot with some water and make stock. Soup stocks are good catchalls for things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:38 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


The entire history of domestication of plants and animals has been to select for specific desirable characteristics to the detriment of others. It's rare (I can think of no instance) for a plant to be bred for two distinct edible parts. I mean, they can be edible, but are not necessarily good. For instance, beets and chard are the same species but one cultivar is selected for large sugary roots and the other for tender tasty leaves. You can (and I do) eat beet leaves but they are generally tough. I've found that shredding, bruising, or marinating them in dressing can make them quite tasty but they require extra work to break down the fiber.

One of my favorite things about cooking pumpkin and squash is that I get a nice batch of seeds for free. Just soak them in warm brine for a few hours, rinse, then slowly roast until crispy (stirring occasionally). Yummy. But even here, there are cultivars selected specifically for their seeds (think halloween pumpkins).

(A friend had a volunteer plant grow in her garden that turned out to be a cross from the previous year's zucchini and cucumbers. They were... not good.)

Anyway, yes, it's generally possible to eat several parts of the plant, but horticulture has been working against you from time immemorial.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:41 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


"TIL: that some people don't eat beet leaves or the green parts of leeks & scallions."

I didn't realize the white parts of green onions were actually scallions until, like, three years ago :D

I keep a gallon ziploc in the freezer to throw vegetable scraps and chicken bones into for stock, which works great in the winter, but in summer it always gets full and I don't need more stock so I eventually have to throw out my scraps.

I buy broccoli with the stems on and then peel the stems with a veggie peeler directly into my salad mix, it is yummmmmmmm. One of my kids will only eat salad for lunch at school - he is EIGHT - so every Sunday night we stand in the kitchen with a bunch of veggies from our farm box and start with a base of lettuce and then add all kinds of seasonal produce, I chop things and he peels things into shreds (carrots, broccoli stems) and tears things (greens) and we make an elaborate seasonal salad mix and we both eat from it all week. I wouldn't do it just for me, but I don't mind spending all that time fussing with vegetables when it's for my kids to eat healthy, and it's kind-of pleasant doing it with my kid for company. (Especially when he is viciously peeling a carrot to death and announces, "I AM VOLDEMORT FOR CARROTS!")
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 AM on August 20, 2019 [9 favorites]


Just made leek and potato soup yesterday and drizzled it with some coconut milk. I used yukon golds and didn't peel them. Between the fiber in the skins and the fat in the coconut milk, it's extremely filling!
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 10:55 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


All of you broccoli stem lovers out there (I’m one of you) do realize that kohlrabi is basically just one big stem, don’t you? Although according to the first link in the fpp the leaves are edible too.
posted by TedW at 10:57 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Garlic scapes are kind of where we draw our line in the sand. We'll use 'em, but they're so woody they really need a lot of cooking to even begin to be palatable. The best use case we have for them is pickling, and even that's not super fantastic.

I do love fresh radish tops though. They're absolutely amazing.
posted by bonehead at 10:58 AM on August 20, 2019


Celery leaves are the best part of the bloody mary.

The secret is to add more clams.
posted by bonehead at 10:59 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Garlic scapes are kind of where we draw our line in the sand. We'll use 'em, but they're so woody they really need a lot of cooking to even begin to be palatable.

Either you're using too much of the stem or your scapes are too old, if that's what you're finding. They're kind of like asparagus, where the top half or so is tender but the bottom half is woody, and the top half is the kind that works best with cooking. For the more woody bits, try turning them into pesto.

FYI, speaking of asparagus, that SF Gate link in the original article makes mention of a use for the stems of asparagus; I got sick of having to throw away half the asparagus stalk whenever I cooked it and finally Googled "Asparagus stem recipes" and found something like that. Basically you chuck the stems into a pot, add a lot of water and boil the hell out of them, then puree that and strain. That leaves you with a thinnish stock tasting of asparagus that you can bulk out with a little cooked rice or potato (cook rice or potato in the stock and then puree again). It both deals with the woody nature of the asparagus bottoms and is pretty simple.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also for asparagus, if you do the Julia Child method of peeling the lower half of the stalks instead of snapping them off you get to keep much more of it.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:31 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


We love using up broccoli stalks. We call it staccoli. I use the veggie peeler to get off the tough skin and slice it for steaming with the broccoli tops, or chop it and put it in soup. It's good stuff.

I have never peeled potatoes before preparing. I suppose I would if I was obsessed with pure-as-driven-snow mashed potatoes, but mashed taters taste just fine with the skins in there as well.
posted by Gray Duck at 11:37 AM on August 20, 2019


We love using up broccoli stalks. We call it staccoli.

Mmm, mmm, how can it be
You digest everything
But ol' staccoli
It's a bad meal
Ol' staccoli

(— Woody, of course)
posted by aws17576 at 12:11 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Delicious post!
Turnips and rutabagas are great in a stew where all the other vegetables become very sweet during a long cooking proces. They are sweet too, but they add something else to the mix. I like that better than preparing them alone. My daughters love them in a mixed mash as well, but my own favorites math are just potato and celeriac, or celeriac with a lot of garlic.
We always have ambitious plans for kohlrabi, but then end up eating them as vegetable "sashimi": cut them up in thin strips and serve them raw exactly like you would fish. It's a good snack at all times. I just eat the leaves while prepping, if they are still on. And you can do the same with those delicious broccoli stems.
I just saw this yesterday, and was reminded that both spanikopita and saag paneer (some of my favorite foods) can be made with all sorts of greens, wild and domestic. I want to try it with leek greens now, though I usually save those for stock, like many other posters here: in a bag in the freezer till the Sunday I spend cooking stock.
I can understand why people with tiny apartment kitchens don't feel they can handle a lot of green stuff they aren't going to use right away, so in that sense, the supermarkets cutting off the tops are doing people a service. When I worked at a greengrocers, we'd leave the tops on so people could see how lovely and fresh our produce was, and then cut them off on demand. The boss would bring all the cuttings to his own garden and compost them. I've noticed many stalls at farmers markets will do this for you, and then your waste will go directly back into the production. Everyone wins.
Now, our municipality has given us nice little ventilated boxes for collecting vegetable waste for compost. They pick it up every week, so my conscience is much better. Before, I would sometimes take peels and ends and whatever I didn't put in the freezer to the park opposite our apartment building when I walked the dog, and throw them into their compost containers. But not every week.
The dog always loves the carrot ends, and sometimes other scraps, depending on his mood. He's always hungry, but he only eats other raw veg (apart from carrot) when he is angry at me for being on the phone for too long, or at something, like a cat or his dinner.
posted by mumimor at 1:07 PM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Carrot and parsley are in the same family, so you can use the carrot greens as a replacement for parsley.

They definitely have a distinct flavor, so I'm not saying this will be for everyone, but since you get a lot of greens per carrot, if you're ever looking to use up a bunch at once, we've found they are pretty great for tabouleh.
posted by solotoro at 1:16 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Run to your library and check out a copy of Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Feast, which is a luscious melange of food writing and recipes, all devoted to using as much of each ingredient as possible. Quoth she:
Continuity is the heart and soul of cooking. If we decide our meals will be good, remanded kale stems, quickly pickled or cooked in olive oil and garlic, will be taken advantage of to garnish eggs, or tossed with pasta. Beet and turnip greens, so often discarded, will be washed well and sautéed in olive oil and filled into an omelet, or served on warm, garlicky crostini. The omelets or little toasts will have cost no more than eggs and stale bread, and both will have been more gratifying to eater and cook.
Who wouldn't want to reinvent all the spare bits of ingredients after that?
posted by sobell at 1:20 PM on August 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


It's rare (I can think of no instance) for a plant to be bred for two distinct edible parts. I mean, they can be edible, but are not necessarily good.

Varieties of celery bred for their roots (i.e. celeriac) still produce tasty, edible leaves and stalks, though the stalks aren't quite as large and crisp as celery bred for that purpose.

Cilantro / coriander varieties don't seem to have much of a tradeoff between leaves and seeds. Squash and squash blossoms are another example.

But yeah, there aren't many, and the "bonus" use tends to be for flavor or decoration rather than significant nutrition.
posted by jedicus at 1:30 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


The secret is to add more clams.
They still make it.
Also available in beer form.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:37 PM on August 20, 2019


Our ancient horticultural benefactors were geniuses at making the best of what they had, and this included finding ways to use plants that were marginal (thistles, sunchokes, oxalis) or downright harmful (parsnips, nightshades). You can get serious burns from parsnip greens and sunlight, more so from the wild varieties (previously), but also from domestic ones.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:41 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Rutabega fries! Rutageba fries! (I mean, really, they're rutabegas cut into fry shape and then roasted in the oven. Way better than oven fries made from potatoes (they get amazingly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside). Not as good as actually fried french fries. But they're a big part of what's getting me through gestational diabetes. They feel like a choice, not deprivation.
posted by atomicstone at 2:16 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Seems like a good place to stick this link I've been saving for a while:
What Rutabaga does Better than Anything Else - New Yorker

tl;dr is rutabaga is fantastic for veggie noodles
posted by devrim at 2:22 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


rutabaga = swede = yellow turnip = neap = snagger originated as a cross between the cabbage and the (white) turnip.

mashed rutabaga + milk + butter + salt + pepper = food of the gods, especially if you add haggis
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:45 PM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yellow onion skins add a nice caramel color to stock.

I thought that was my secret! Don't tell anyone that adding a single, e.g. Roma, tomato to the stock will help clarify it or I will have no more stock secrets worth (not) sharing.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:43 PM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I deliberately make my stock murky and inscrutable.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:50 PM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have a jar of homemade watermelon rind pickles in my fridge as we speak. I love watermelon beyond the telling of it, but sometimes you get one that is mealy or flavorless or generally unsatisfying. My watermelon pickles, on the other hand, have never betrayed me and are always delicious.
posted by darchildre at 7:43 PM on August 20, 2019


darchildre, want to post your recipe? I have a watermelon, and fond memories of my grandmother's watermelon rind pickles, but no recipe.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:54 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Folks into pickling watermelon rinds, just in case you didn't know, it works a treat for pumpkin rinds as well!
posted by solotoro at 5:43 AM on August 21, 2019


Run to your library and check out a copy of Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Feast, which is a luscious melange of food writing and recipes, all devoted to using as much of each ingredient as possible.

While you're there, also check out M.F.K. Fisher's How To Cook A Wolf. It's kind of the spiritual grandmother of "An Everlasting Feast", and covers the same topics; only Fisher was writing during World War II when rationing was on and everyone was forced to be economical (and then she also updated it during the 50s as a reaction to the conflicting food and nutrition advice that was circulating).

They're very different voices - Fisher is this very cosmopolitan suave genteel lady, and Tamar Adler is more like hippie earth mother, but they both have a lot of the same advice. Which I think is telling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 AM on August 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


Some of these are a bit weird for me -- I'm still amazed that there are people who throw half their leeks and spring onions (scallions) away, or enforce some arbitrary cutoff on acceptable regions of broccoli or cauliflower, or don't know that you can eat celery leaves. In my country stem celery customarily comes whole with a bunch of leaves attached (although they truncate them at a certain height so that it can fit in a bag; bunches of excess leaves are sold as "soup celery"). In my country of birth, parsley root is so commonly eaten that the word parsley without context could mean either leaves or root. And who tweezes leaves off (non-woody) herb stems? I don't have time for that!

Another weird thing that some people don't eat: the middle of the pineapple! Why would you not? It's delicious!

On the other hand, there are some things that I know are technically edible, but I have no desire to eat -- I tried carrot greens and found them revolting. I don't feel too bad about discarding scraps because I have a worm farm out back, so any vegetable matter that I don't eat gets deposited back into the Circle of Life.

I like to plant bits of supermarket vegetables in pots to see if they will grow. I have given up on keeping spring onions alive in the fridge, and just plant them straight away, which works a lot better. Ginger also appears to be happiest when actually buried in soil, which is why I sometimes have ginger scapes, which are pretty cool. Sometimes a bit woody, but suitable for use in stock.
posted by confluency at 6:25 AM on August 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


> Some of these are a bit weird for me -- I'm still amazed that there are people who throw half their leeks and spring onions (scallions) away, or enforce some arbitrary cutoff on acceptable regions of broccoli or cauliflower, or don't know that you can eat celery leaves.

Almost every published recipe literally just tells you to discard these parts, though. (Or say something vague like "can be saved for stock" but WTF does that mean to someone who isn't already a fairly experienced home cook?)

Published recipes are doing their job, though; they are (supposed to be) designed to get a dish prepared for the table in a reliable way, not to teach you to branch out and understand your ingredients better. Me, Ilike being creative and resourceful and finding ways to use the secondary vegetable parts, but I have the confidence to tinker knowledgeably combined with a motivation to get as much food for my money/gardening effort as possible. And I was raised by a good home cook who gave me a solid foundation, so I'm not using recipes strictly as an instruction manual.

I think these articles and ones like them are great, perennial content. They give people guidelines for when they're ready to use that knowledge.
posted by desuetude at 7:37 AM on August 21, 2019


Oh, and my method for getting carrot greens to a pleasant texture for pesto is to blanch them very thoroughly and use extra olive oil. I love how carroty it smells. (I also use the tops for stock, especially the more overgrown ones.)
posted by desuetude at 7:40 AM on August 21, 2019


Okay, this is all reminding me that I haven't made myself a roast chicken in a while; I'm a single diner, so a roast chicken usually means "lots of leftover chicken meat I then have to figure out how to use for several days after", and between that and the insane heat from summer I've not done that in a while. But I also have those turnips I need to dip into, plus a lot of carrots and a couple of new potatoes from CSA hauls - but I confess that the biggest reason I'm interested is because "hey then I'll have the bones and I can pull out some of those leek tops and celery leaves from the freezer and do up a chicken stock".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2019


(Incidentally - does anyone else have ideas for how to use up those little Japanese turnips? My stomach is reminding me to say that they must be cooked in my case due to a bit of sensitivity to the woodier brassica vegetables, so the longer they're cooked the better in my case.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on August 21, 2019


Watermelon pickle recipe for meaty shoe puppet and anyone else who wants it.

You will need:

1/2 of one of those wee personal watermelons
2 tbsp kosher salt
4 strips of lime zest, finely julienned
1 piece of ginger the size of your thumb, also finely julienned
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

Cut the rind off the watermelon flesh, leaving about a 1/4" attached to the rind, and set the flesh aside for eating later. Peel the rind with a vegetable peeler, taking the green off and leaving the white of the rind. Then cut the rind into 1/2" to 1" pieces, toss with salt, and refrigerate for an hour.

Take the rind out of the fridge and pour off the liquid. Soak in ice water with the lime and ginger for 10 minutes. Drain and shake off the excess liquid, then transfer the rind, ginger, and lime to 2 clean pint-size jars.

In a large saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then pour the hot brine over the watermelon rind. Seal the jars and let them cool on the counter, then stick them in the fridge. They'll be ready to eat the next day and will keep for a goodly while.
posted by darchildre at 9:27 AM on August 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


does anyone else have ideas for how to use up those little Japanese turnips

Roasted. With a sauce based on maple syrup and/or white miso.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:43 AM on August 21, 2019


I'm a big fan of both Tamar Adler and M.F.K. Fischer, and I think stone soup is relevant in this thread. Today I really had a moment. I wanted to use our leftovers for something delicious, and I remembered this recipe, sort of, so I bought a courgette/zucchini for the equivalent of 1 dollar. When I got home, I realized that I didn't have the potatoes I thought I had, but I did have a quarter of a celeriac, and it weighed exactly the same as the courgette, so I used that instead. I knew already that I couldn't find burrata, but that we had a lot of soft goat's cheese. This ended up as something I would definitely serve guests; it's not too hard to make*, and really good. The article suggests using tofu instead of cheese if you are vegan. I think I'll try it out with tahin instead of cheese as well.
I also bought a bunch of organic parsley. It was way too expensive at about 3 dollars, but it was the only other thing I bought. I knew I had a very sad half cucumber, half a new onion and a tiny bit of bulgur. So I could make tabbouleh as the side. The stalks from the parsley went into the freezer. I put the ends and peel of the onion, celeriac and tomato in the compost bin, but if you were really frugal, you could wash them well and use them in that stock, too.
You can't really say it was good food for 4 dollars, because I obviously bought all the other ingredients at some point. But the other ingredients were all leftovers from other meals, all but the cheese were very cheap, and I have many friends and family members who would have just thrown them to waste or compost. To me, there is a lot of fun in this type of meal-planning, it's like doing puzzles or Tetris or something. And tonight we were just me and my youngest, and it was a good point of departure for a talk about both climate anxiety and budgeting, two things she struggles with.

* The whole meal took me exactly one hour to make. At least for me when my kids were small this would be off limits, so it's not for everyone. But some mefites are my age or students with no kids, and technically it isn't hard. With bread as the side instead of tabouleh, it could be a bit simpler, but not much.
posted by mumimor at 12:07 PM on August 22, 2019


Turnip mostly means neeps and tatties/colcannon in our household, and those wee ones work better than swedes.

Mash 1:1 potato to turnip, optionally stir in a handful or two of shredded kale or cabbage (or suitable brassica greens).

As with most Scotch/Irish cooking this is largely a vehicle for cream and butter. However, it works ok with a lower-fat yogurt too.
posted by bonehead at 1:03 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


« Older Like a cursed prince in a fairy tale who wished...   |   The Joe Rogan Experience; the American Male... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments