Did you know you can use tomato stems and leaves in your cooking?
With food prices ever on an upward trend, and with an increase consciousness of waste, I’ve been on a mission to use up as much of the food I buy as possible. Here are some foods I used to waste; maybe you needlessly waste them, too:
1. Potato Peels. Unless I have company, I leave the peels on the potatoes – even when making mashed potatoes. (There’s a lot of good nutrition in those peels!) But if I do peel the potatoes, I save them in a bag in the fridge and later deep fry them in oil (at 350 degrees F./176 degrees C.) I season them with salt and sometimes other spices.
2. Tops. I always try to buy root vegetables with their tops in tact. I chop and freeze carrot tops for using like parsley, and the greens of many other root vegetables, such as beets and radishes, are excellent sliced and sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and salt.
3. Watermelon Seeds and Rinds. If you buy watermelons with seeds in them, save the seeds and roast them: Toss the seeds with a tablespoon or two of olive oil some salt and pepper; spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F./176 degrees C. for a few minutes. You can also save the white part of the watermelon rind and use it chopped into salads, just like cucumbers.
4. Fennel and Celery Leaves. Instead of tossing them, save them and use them just as you would the stalk.
5. Collard and Chard Ribs. Almost all recipes call for the cutting away of the tough ribs of these vegetables, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw them away! Instead, simmer them in some wine or stock. Drain them once they are tender and season with salt and a little bit of olive oil.
6. Corn Cobs. Remove all remaining kernels, then add to the pot when you’re making vegetable stock.
7. Tomato Stems and Leaves. Lay these on top of a layer or two of cheesecloth, then tie the cloth closed. Add to soups or stews during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
8. Citrus Peels. Cut away the white pith and either grate or chop finely. Freeze. Use small amounts for baking (or to replace fresh zest…just use less), or add tiny amounts to stews, soup, or stock.
9. Leek and Scallion Whites. Many chefs only use the white part of leeks and scallions (green onions). Save the tougher, green part of leeks and chop them into soup. Go ahead and use the whites of scallions; they are only slightly “hotter” than the greens.