Maybe you have heard of nose-to-tail cooking, the movement that uses every part of the animal. This type of cooking is economical, creative and can connect us to a time when our ancestors stretched their food as much as possible. The same thing can be done with our vegetables. So before you throw away your broccoli stems, carrot tops or Swiss chard ribs, read on for delicious ways to cook with scraps.

Broccoli Stem Slaw: Carefully slice 3 broccoli stems, 2 medium carrots, 1 Granny Smith apple, and ½ red onion into matchsticks. Mix ¾ cup of Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar together. If too tart, add a drizzle of honey. Season with salt and pepper and toss vegetables in dressing. The longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld together.

Pickled Swiss Chard Stems: Chop about 1 cup of Swiss chard stems and sprinkle them with a little sea salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan, toast 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds. Add ¼ cup of white wine vinegar, ¼ of rice vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of raw sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Place stems in a glass container and pour brine over them. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight before using. These are great on top of salad or rice bowls.

Roasted Mushroom Stems: Slice mushroom steps in half lengthwise. Whisk together a marinade of olive oil, white wine vinegar, minced garlic, a drizzle of molasses, paprika, chile powder, cumin, oregano, dried thyme, and salt and pepper. Toss stems in marinade and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. These can be chopped or pulled into strands and served on whole wheat crackers, or on top of salads or soups.

Carrot Top Pesto: In a food processor, pulse 1 clove of garlic and 3 tablespoons of pine nuts or walnuts. Add ½ cup of basil leaves and 2 cups of carrot tops and pulse until a coarse puree forms. If desired, you can add ¼ cup of parmesan cheese at this point and pulse to combine. The cheese can be left out if you prefer the pesto to be dairy-free. Drizzle in ½ cup of olive oil, pulse to combine, and season with salt and pepper.

Vegetable Broth: As you cook throughout the week, save your vegetable scraps in a re-sealable bag in your freezer. Some vegetable scraps to save include broccoli and cauliflower stems, herbs stems, celery greens, carrot and onion peels, and pea pods. However, the possibilities are endless! Once your freezer bag is full, place your vegetable scraps in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about one hour. While simmering, add seasonings, such as a bay leaf, a garlic clove or a tablespoon of tomato paste. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired and strain out solids. Use in your favorite soup or stew recipe, or cook your favorite grains in your homemade broth.


By: Amanda Thomas

Photo Credit: SimpleBites.net