Stalks, stems, peels and rinds don’t get much love in the kitchen, but many of these so-called food “scraps” offer nutrition and flavor. As you prepare holiday meals and host celebrations, take note of these creative ways to lessen food waste.
Fronds and Leaves
- Celery leaves snipped from the stalks can be used in soups and salads.
- Carrot and fennel fronds make a nice garnish, add flavor to salads and can be ground with nuts, garlic and cheese or olive oil to make pesto.
- But do not eat rhubarb leaves — they contain oxalic acid and can be toxic.
Stalks, Stems and Rinds
Broccoli: Totally edible but often discarded, broccoli stalks can be shred into salad or slaw, pureed into soup or sauce, roasted or steamed for a side dish or tossed into a pot of stock.
Kale: The tough center stems of kale are quite chewy and fibrous, so they should not be eaten raw. Blanch and sauté them for stir-fry or toss them in pickling brine and seasonings for a week to make a crunchy, flavorful addition to dishes.
Leeks: Darker green tops of leeks can be julienned and sauteed for a topping to salads and soups, added to stock or simply cooked longer to soften and eat.
Watermelon: Pickled watermelon rinds are loved by many around the world and are becoming more popular in the U.S. For a more immediate snack, mist with lemon juice and a dash of chili powder.
Zest it: Wash the fruit, then use a zester or grater to remove zest (not the white pith). Use zest to season sweet or savory dishes.
Candy it: Bitter oranges, lemons and citron are popular choices, but almost any kind will do. Candied or chocolate-dipped peels are a sweet holiday gift, fruity treat or garnish for baked goods.
Flavor drinks : Add dried peels to tea or steep fresh peels in spirits, such as vodka, to infuse beverages with citrusy flavor.
Make potpourri: Add a festive, fresh scent to the air by simmering a pot of water with fresh orange peels and spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg.