Eating from Root to Shoot

Eating from Root to Shoot

Amici, we're here to talk about the worldwide problem of food waste. But before you click away in a fit of despair, don't worry: we're also going to share ways that you can do your part to end it.

And we should all start now. Did you know that nearly 1.6 billion tons of edible — edible! — food is wasted across the globe? That comes straight from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. We're talking 2.6 trillion (2,600,000,000,000) pounds of food.

Read that again, and let it sit with you for a second.

In America alone, there are 20 billion pounds of food wasted each year, estimated by Feeding America. Of that food waste, more than 97 percent goes to landfill where it breaks down into methane, a potent greenhouse gas that packs 21 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide!

That’s not good, to say the least, but there is one very simple thing you can start doing today with your produce to lessen the amount of food waste you create: eat more of it! Every lovely leaf, precious peel, and nutrient-packed stem has a wealth of valuable nutrients to enjoy.

Here are some simple tricks to incorporate the entire fruit or vegetable — from the root to the shoot!

Produce cutting_750x500


Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables, and can be used in many different ways. Try them:

With seafood: Celery root pairs will with seafood. Try a celery root purée for a sear-roasted fish filet by cutting the root and a few small potatoes into pieces, and simmer with a few small garlic cloves until tender. Purée the vegetables with some of the remaining cooking liquid, a little cream, and salt and pepper to taste.

As a replacement: Parsley root can be substituted in cooked recipes that call for carrots, parsnips, and turnips. Try them baked in a gratin, pan-fried in fritters, or deep-fried as chips.

Together: Many roots play nicely with other roots and tubers. Try them try them roasted, mashed, or puréed together!



These are one of the first things to go in the garbage bin, but the pigments of produce are healthful, and the skins and peels are a concentrated source of phytochemicals, soluble fibers, and antioxidants. Try them:

In desserts: Sprinkle the zest of a citrus fruit into a cookie or muffin recipe to add a delightful kick, or discover how to candy the rinds.

As side dishes: Spread well-scrubbed potato skins on an oiled cookie sheet, drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. Top with Parmigiano Reggiano, and enjoy!

Infused Spirits: Give your cocktails an extra twist by infusing the spirits with fresh fruit or vegetable peels and skins. Get the guide!

how to infuse vodka


It's easy to forget that stalks and stems are part of the vegetable — not just something that needs to be cut away to get to the "good stuff." Be sure not to leave them behind. Try them:

In soups and stocks: Tough asparagus stalks that often go unused can be used to create a delicious cream of asparagus soup. Additionally, collard, kale, and parsley stems also make a great stock base. Allow the stems to infuse in water and release their nutrients for an hour, and then remove.

In slaws: Peel off the tougher parts of the broccoli stalk off, and shred the rest to make a colorful salad or cole slaw.

As hummus: Just replace those standard chickpeas for chard stalks!

Fried or pickled: Tempura-battered and deep fried, broccoli and swiss chard stems make a uniquely delicious appetizer. They also make a great addition to your next pickling session!

ribollita tuscan vegetable soup


The greens are one of the most versatile components you have at your disposal. Anything that sprouts leaves or is green adds vibrancy and nutrients to any dish, so be sure to save them! Try them:

As chips: Not just reserved for kale, you can bake broccoli leaf chips with a little salt, olive oil, and an oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In vegetable stocks: This is an obvious winner. Most greens, from carrots to kale, can be used in a stock, perfect for your winter stew.

In sauces: Create a delicious pesto or salsa verde out of carrot leaves, radish greens, and fennel fronds.

Verdure_Root to Shoot_Radish Dish_Radishes_750x500

Now you're ready to cook your fruits and vegetables from root to shoot! For bonus points, use every part of your produce in a single dish or meal, such as a beautiful salad made with shaved raw and seared radishes; radish green pesto, and topped with micro radish greens! Ask yourself, "What would Dan Barber do?" 

Buon appetito!