Do you ever feel remorse when you toss out those broccoli stems or radish tops? With a growing fight to reduce food waste (it's estimated that America wastes 70 billion pounds of food each year!) even the so-called food "scraps" need a second look. Many of these stalks, stems, leaves and peels are edible and full of nutrition and flavor.
Other than the leaves of rhubarb, which contain oxalic acid and can be toxic, most leaves and fronds are completely edible. Celery leaves carry an intense celery flavor and are a great addition to any salad or soup. Radish leaves are a little fuzzy and rough, lending themselves well to cooking rather than eating raw in a salad. Sauté them with just a bit of butter and lemon juice or boil them and puree into a sauce. Carrot and fennel fronds make a nice garnish on top of a salad, and broccoli stems are perfect when grated or sliced into matchsticks and used in place of the cabbage in a slaw.
Peels and rinds of fruits can also be used. Zest the peel of any citrus fruit, such as a lemon or orange, to infuse flavor into most any dish. Dry the peels and add to water or hot tea. Even the rind of the watermelon can be used when pickled. Think about using the entire fruit or vegetable and you'll put more in your tummy and less in the trash.
Radish Greens Chimichurri (Printable PDF)
5 loosely packed cups chopped radish greens
2 Tablespoons diced shallot (about 1 medium shallot)
2 teaspoons diced garlic (about 1 clove)
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
Heat about 1 cup water in small saucepan until simmering. Add radish greens. Toss to coat and cook until softened and dark green, about 30 seconds. Turn off heat, remove greens and squeeze out excess water. Using a blender or food processor, blend cooked greens with shallot, garlic, rice vinegar, salt and olive oil until combined, but still coarse. Drain excess liquid if desired, and keep chilled up to 4 days until ready to use. Serve on top of grilled vegetables or meat.
Yield: 2/3 cup, or about 5 servings (2 Tablespoons each)
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 25 calories, 2 grams fat, 75 milligrams sodium, 2 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein
Source: Adapted from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food and Nutrition