Peels, rinds, stems, ends, tops: No matter how you slice it, preparing vegetables can leave you with a lot of undesirable bits. But before you rush to throw that “waste” into the garbage or compost, keep in mind that one cook’s trash is another cook’s treasure.
Chef Olivia Roszkowski—who’s cooked alongside Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Chang and is currently an instructor at New York City’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts—is a champion of using every part of the vegetable, from the root to the frond. “Root-to-frond cooking is not only helpful economically because you can utilize up to two thirds more of the produce,” she says. “It is also a great creative outlet that simultaneously helps reduce the astronomical amount of food being wasted.”
Want to give root-to-frond a whirl? Here are 10 of Roszkowski’s tips to get you started:
- When cutting vegetables during meal prep, set aside a special bowl for scraps and ends. Then, pass them through a juicer for a refreshing pick-me-up.
- Blanch extra greens to use in multiple recipes, or freeze for future use in a soup.
- Blend extra leaves into a pesto, gremolata, relish or salsa verde.
- Use petite greens or fronds as a beautiful garnish.
- Shave vegetable stems for a ribbon salad, pickle for a tangy condiment, braise into a hearty stew, steep into an infused oil or syrup, or dehydrate and grind into a flavored salt.
- Toast seeds (such as pumpkin seeds) by coating with oil and roasting in a pan, or soak and puree them to use as a thickener. Use as a salad garnish for added crunch.
- Roast peels or potato skins into a crispy snack or garnish, save for a stock or jelly, or steep into a flavorful vinegar.
- Transform citrus peels into candied rinds, or use in an infused water.
- Try carrot greens in place of herbs in a pesto, chard stems in place of rhubarb in a compote, broccoli stalks in place of artichokes, or substitute beet stems for pickled cucumbers.
- Chop extra vegetables to create a chilled soup or gazpacho, or create an infused drink or cocktail for a social gathering.
Want to learn more techniques for preparing delicious, healthy and sustainable meals? Consider enrolling in the Chef’s Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts, the first culinary program dedicated to healthful cooking to be accredited nationally. They’ve been devoted to kale, quinoa and community since 1977! The program equips students with the culinary chops, business skills and nutritional know-how to launch successful, health-minded cooking careers—Roszkowski is a graduate.
Enrollment for the Fall 2016 term is almost complete. Don’t miss your chance to become a natural foods chef in 2016!