Out of the Compost and Into the Fire

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Stop throwing away those carrot tops, beet leaves, and broccoli stems! Here’s how to cook with the parts of your food you normally toss into the compost bin.

Food waste is a big problem, but you can be a big part of the solution. We don’t always think about eating the whole plant, but there’s a lot of deliciousness that we miss when we throw out the tops and bottoms of some of our favorite veggies. Here are a few ideas to get you started on a zero-waste kitchen.

Carrot Top Pesto


  • 1 bunch carrot tops, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves picked
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup almonds or walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


Place all ingredients except olive oil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend.

With the machine running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until pesto is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with warm pasta, spread on crostini, or on top of roasted carrots.

Sesame-Braised Beet or Turnip Greens


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch beet or turnip greens, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat olive oil and sesame oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven with a lid.

2. Add garlic and fry until fragrant — about 30 seconds.

3. Add greens and a splash of water, then cover. Steam until wilted, just a couple of minutes.

4. Remove lid and add soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

Broccoli Stem Hummus


  • 2 cups peeled and chopped broccoli stems
  • 1 cup canned, drained chickpeas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1⁄4 cup tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Small bunch cilantro, mint, or parsley, or a combination
  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Blanch broccoli stems in boiling water, then plunge into a bowl of ice water, then drain.

2. Place all ingredients into a food processor and process to desired consistency.

3. Serve with pita chips or carrot sticks.

Tags: Healthy Recipes, Salads, Vegan Recipes, Quick Recipe Ideas, Sunday Dinner Ideas, Sauces

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Written By

Elizabeth Winslow

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