Eating tail-to-snout used to not have a name; it was simply (and still is in places) a way of life. But now that idea of consuming a whole animal or vegetable, and using different parts in creative ways, is a cool culinary trend. And many chefs and resourceful cooks have applied this concept to the vegetable crisper, too: Instead of trashing stalks, leaves, fronds and peels, chefs have inspired a movement that puts these former cast-offs to great effect with new pestos, salad greens or sautéed greens. And you can do this at home — no chef’s kitchen staff required! Not only will you eat better, but you will also be more resourceful in using as much of a plant as possible. Here’s a roundup of how to use some odds and ends, plus information on any nutrients you may be gaining too.
Broccoli stalks are the gateway veggie part to try. The flavor hints at broccoli but with a pleasant slightly crunchy texture. Peel those stalks and julienne to bulk up a slaw or to toss into a stir-fry. Two ounces of raw stalk provide 52 milligrams vitamin C (almost a day’s worth), plus a little potassium.
Buy beets with pretty greens attached and you know you’ll have fresher (tastier) beets. And the greens are as tasty and versatile as their root counterpart. The tops can be tossed in salads, sautéed for a quick side (like spinach), or stirred into cooked pasta. One cup of raw greens contains about half your daily vitamin A requirements, about 20% of your daily vitamin C needs and over 1 gram fiber.
Celery is sometimes overlooked among more vibrant nutrient powerhouses in the vegetable aisle, but it’s still a good veggie to pick up with its leaves. The leaves are lovely in a salad (with the stalks, dates and almonds), as a pesto, or as greens for a sandwich, burger opens in a new tabor wrap.
Potato skins are where many of the nutrients of the potato live. For rustic presentations such as mashed potatoes or hearty soups, the peel can contribute more than just texture. One average potato skin contributes a little fiber and iron. Organic potatoes are great to use here, and be sure your potatoes are well scrubbed and don’t have any green spots.
Buying and using the whole vegetable will reward you with new ingredients to use, some nutrient bonuses, and you’ll be happy knowing you’re using more of the plant.
Do you have a favorite cast-away veggie part? How do you use it?