All the Trimmings – Stem to Root Cooking
Did you know that the trimmings you may usually throw away can be used in to maximise the flavour in dishes? It’s called ‘stem to root’ cooking. The old saying ‘waste not, want not’ goes for pretty much everything (pretty much – I wouldn’t stray into toilet paper!) If you’re already composting your offcuts, that’s great, but try incorporating them into your meals instead for a rich and complex flavour. You could be missing out on extra nutrients that are tucked away inside the ‘waste’ you throw away. Lots of times, more nutrients are contained in the skin of a vegetable than in the vegetable itself. So it’s not always what’s inside that counts!
An easy one to start with – potato skins are often ‘loaded’ with mash, cheese and chives. Potato skins are packed with niacin, B & C vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium – so they’re great for your heart and nervous system. They also contain a chemical called quercetin which can help boost your immune system – great for those cold winter nights! If you’re peeling potatoes and have lots of peel left over, try roasting the skins with a little salt, pepper and other spices and herbs to create some healthy french fries.
Can’t see the good for the trees? Often, broccoli stems have a richer flavour than the florets (or trees!) The stalks contain calcium, vitamins A + C and folate – making them great for your bones and will aid your cells in repairing themselves. What you want to do is peel the stalks to remove their tough outer skin. With these peeled stalks, you can chop them into ‘stars’ or try thinly slicing them to add to stir fry and other dishes. Even the leaves around the broccoli head can be chopped and added to salads!
The tufty green bits on top of your carrots and beetroots aren’t just good for pulling them out of the ground – they’re edible too, and great for you! Carrot greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, rich in protein and they even contain 6 times the calcium of the root! Beet greens are loaded with vitamin K, A & C and potassium, plus they’re a great source of iron. Both greens can be added to soups & stocks, or used to create an alternative pesto. You can also try using the leaves in salads – though they may taste quite bitter, so try blanching or sautéing them.
Even herb stems have their usage! They contain the same tasty flavours you get in the leaves, so save them up. You can use the softer stems in any dish, and even save the harder ones to add flavour to soups or broths!
All the rest
We don’t want to leave anything else untouched! The hard ends of asparagus stems, onion ends and any vegetable peels can be stored (either frozen or in an airtight container in the fridge) and used to flavour a variety of dishes, mostly soups and broths.