Don’t toss those leafy veggie tops: How to use the whole vegetable.


Your recipe calls for beets, carrots, or radishes. You get a nice bouquet from the store or the market, and instead of being happy about the beautiful green, you may complain because you now have to decide what to do with it. They weren’t originally part of the plan, and suddenly it feels like one cooking task has become two.

“There just aren’t many recipes for these kinds of veggie toppers,” says Linda Ly, a cookbook author who runs the Garden Betty website. “People don’t know what to do with them”

Try to think of the extra greens as a bonus, not a liability. “If you think about cooking all the parts, you’ll have more food on hand than you might think,” says Anne-Marie Bonneau, author of the book and website The Zero-Waste Chef.

Here are some tips for picking, storing, and using, as well as details on the most common species you’ll come across.

Reduce waste and boost flavor with recipes that use whole veggies

to look for things. First, make sure the greens look good. They should be “sassy,” as Abra Berens says in “Ruffage.” Avoid anything wilted, slimy, or yellowing.

If you find top-tipped turnips, they were probably dug up within the week, according to Berens. Just remember that there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with it Beets, carrots and radishes sold without vegetables as they store well every week or longer.

“It’s hard to find radishes with pristine tops because they are grown and watered, but if you can find them with full, pristine leaves, get these,” Aaron Choi, farmer and co-owner of Girl & Dug Farm in San Marcos , California, told my colleague Daniela Galarza.

Spicy, crunchy, buttery or tender, radishes offer something for every season

If you’re growing your own, former Post columnist Barbara Damrosch wrote that with radishes, “it’s best to taste the leaves when they’re young and tender and the roots have just formed.”

Store and prepare. “When I come home from the farmer’s market, the first thing I tend to is the vegetables,” says Bonneau.

Your guide to lettuce, plus picking, prep and storage tips

Allowing them to stick can deprive the vegetable of moisture and nutrients, and the vegetable will have a shorter shelf life than the actual vegetable. Expect them to last a few days. Bonneau keeps them in a slightly damp cloth bag in the crisper, although you can use a plastic or resealable bag or pack them in a hard-sided container between layers of paper or dishtowels, a method my colleague Aaron Hutcherson suggested in his guide to lettuce leaves . Carrot tops are more like herbs, so follow Aaron’s advice there: “Spread the herbs out on a slightly damp towel, roll them into a bunch, put the bunch in a bag, and store in the fridge.”

Here’s how to store fresh herbs to keep them perky and happy

To clean vegetables, swish in cold water to remove dirt or mud, lift out, drain well and dry in clean towels or a salad spinner.

General Tips. Many vegetables are good for quick sautéing, says Ly. Start by cooking some onion or garlic in oil. Then add the vegetables and cook until they wilt. Season with salt and pepper and top off with a bit of acid like lemon juice or vinegar for an extra zest. If you have the beet stalks, add them before the greens to soften them.

Ly makes pesto out of all kinds of veggies, but also recommends simply pureeing it to add to marinades or dips.

Green smoothies are another way to quickly and nutritiously use up your excess. If all else fails, use them in Crunchy vegetable broth.

For each of these greens, you can get the most bang for your buck with less waste and extra work by trying to use the greens and the veggies in the same recipe.

carrot tops. “With an intense carrot flavor and aroma, carrot greens possess the pleasant earthy bitterness typical of leafy greens, but with a feather-light texture that feels like herb,” ​​says our Nourish columnist Ellie Krieger in her recipe for Carrot Top Pesto. They go well with parsley, as a side dish or in a salad or salsa.

“I like to make a spicy chimichurri with carrot tops while I roast the bottoms and spoon the former over the latter to serve,” says food editor Joe Yonan of his Honey roasted carrots with carrot chimichurri.

beet greens. According to Bonneau, beet greens are comparable to kale or Swiss chard, earthy with a slightly bitter edge.

in the Crispy mashed beets with garlic, scallions and chilethe vegetables are quickly cooked in a hot pan after you shallow fry the roasted, mashed beets. Roasted beets with sautéed beet greens takes a similar approach when pairing roasted roots with wilted vegetables. The leaves melt to silky perfection when baked, as in Beet green layers.

Since beet greens are on the tender side, Ly slices them thinly to add them raw to salads.

If you don’t sauté the beet ribs (stalks) in your finished dish, consider pickling them along the lines of Pickled red onion and chard stalks.

radish green. I love Damrosch’s description: “Radish leaves are usually described as hairy, but in fact they’re downright prickly, even a little painful. Your tongue says, ‘Big mistake.’

“Like many edible plants that were not formed by breeders for culinary enjoyment, radishes do not want to be eaten. They’d rather be left alone so they can get on with it and make seeds to reproduce with, so their scratchy surface is probably a defense. But I have come to appreciate how radish greens are quickly tamed by heat.”

Ly says radish greens are milder than the radishes themselves, with a slightly peppery edge that softens as it cooks. In her recipe for Buttered radishes and radish greens with farrocook the radishes in butter, then add the greens, which will wilt in just 2 to 3 minutes. Fried radish with shrimp is another stove option. in the Roasted Radishes with Green Goddess ButterYou keep the leaves on and you get a combination of tender veggies with crunchy greens that might remind you of kale chips.

If you like arugula, try raw radish greens in your salad.

If you’re faced with ripe, thicker greens, or are still struggling with texture, there’s no shame in pureeing it. radish cream soup is an example where potatoes add volume and creamy texture.

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