Nose to tail eating goes vego!
A recent article in the New York Times inadvertently threw vegetable cooking to the wind, or rather have you scavenging the compost heap, with a great piece on stem to root cooking.
As a fledgling gardener and organic produce forager I’m often perplexed about knowing what to do with fruit and vegetable scraps. Other than saving veggie trimmings (the green part of the leek, outer onion layers, chard stalks etc) in a re-sealable container in the freezer to make big batches of vegetable stock, I must admit to sentencing too many goodies to the compost heap.
Currently I’m tossing the dark outer leaves of my Cos lettuce into stir fries. While the younger ones make a wonderful alternative to vine leaves for making dolmades. In fact I think they taste even better than the traditional wrapper.
My friend Lucy swears by adding fresh carrot tops to her braises.
But what to do with all the other bits and pieces?
Some additional suggestions adapted from the NY Times article.
Carrot, celery and fennel leaves: Mix small amounts, finely chopped, with parsley as a garnish or in salsa verde.
Chard/silverbeet ribs: Simmer the thick stalks in white wine and water with a scrap of lemon peel until tender, then drain and dress with olive oil and coarse salt.
Citrus peel: Organic thin-skinned peels of tangerines, oranges or mandarins can be oven-dried in a low oven, then stored to season stews or tomato sauces. Or make candied peel. Add organic mandarin peel to tamari for a citrusy flavour.
Corn cobs: Once the kernels are cut off, simmer the stripped cobs with onions and carrots for a simple stock. Or add them to the broth for corn or clam chowder.
Melon rinds: Cut off the hard outer peels and use crunchy rinds in place of cucumber in salads and cold soups.
Young onion tops: Wash well, coarsely chop and cook briefly in creamy soups or stews, or mix into hot mashed potatoes.
Tomato leaves: Steep for 10 minutes in hot soup or tomato sauces to add a pungent garden-scented depth of tomato flavor. Discard leaves after steeping.
Tomato scraps: Place in a sieve set over a bowl, salt well and collect the pale red juices for use in gazpacho, Bloody Marys or risotto.
Turnip, cauliflower or radish leaves: Braise in the same way as (or along with) collards, chards, mustard greens or kale.
Watermelon seeds: Roast and salt like pumpkin seeds.
Have you got any delicious uses for your vegetable trimmings?