Food & Entertaining - In Season

Discover the full potential of your harvest

Waste not, want not: Avoid sending certain parts of your garden's produce to the compost heap


Are you tossing a potential meal into the compost heap? Most gardeners grow crops for one specific part of the plant, but overlook a lot of the harvest’s delicious potential. Willi Galloway, author of Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover's Guide to Vegetable Gardening, is a master gardener and seasoned veggie vigilante. Nothing gets past her on the way to the compost heap —unless there’s good reason. Here, she shares some of her more unusual (and delicious) waste-saving tips:

Root vegetables
While many people are familiar with beet greens, the tops of any root crop is a potential dish. Radish tops might have a “Velcro-like” texture but are delicious cooked. Turnip tops have a strong, mustard taste, so pick them while they’re about the size of your palm, and treat them like spinach. Add them raw to a salad or steam lightly for a side dish. Rutabaga tops are another spinach substitute. With thicker leaves, they take a bit longer to cook but are still tasty. Even carrot tops are edible. While they don’t make a good side dish, their parsley-like flavour is a pleasant addition to any dish where you would add the herb. Galloway likes finely chopped carrot tops stirred into hummus with some olive oil, or added to a carrot root stir-fry.

Broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi
Since they’re all from the cruciferous family, it’s no surprise the leaves from broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi taste like their cabbage cousin—they can even be used as a direct substitute. “Consider the leaves a back-up crop for broccoli and cauliflower,” Galloway says. “If the head doesn’t grow, eat the leaves.”

Coriander seeds
While you can wait for the seeds to turn brown, coriander's fresh green seeds provide a delightful, light citrus flavour. Pick the seeds while they’re still glossy and green. Then purée them into a marinade, or infuse them into vodka for a fresh take on the classic vodka-tonic.

 

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