Sunday, 15 September 2013

Vegetable offal!

It was Zero Waste Week a couple of weeks ago and my pledge was to try not to waste any fresh produce that week. I haven't ever scientifically analysed my chief food waste offenders but I reckon that if I were to do so, fruit and vegetable waste would contend for pole position.


There was much potential for that kind of waste over the last couple of weeks; we were given a big box of vegetables from a friend's allotment, as well as having a surfeit of runner beans from our own. But by using up the most perishable items first, we've just about kept on top of it, bar half a soggy courgette.

The combination of being the recipient of a big veg box and it being Zero Waste Week inspired me to use up every edible part of those lovely vegetables including the vegetable offal. The bits that you might not usually think of using.

I have fond memories of this kind of offal; one of the treats at my primary school in the 1970s was that during playtime after we'd eaten our lunch, the dinner ladies would lean out of the canteen windows and offer us chunks of leftover cabbage stalk and there was always a throng of kids waiting their turn in the queue for a nice piece of tough cabbage innards to snack on! What a great way of avoiding food waste. Those were the days - now there'd probably be some health and safety or food hygiene issue prohibiting the distribution of waste cabbage. And maybe the 21st century child wouldn't find it so appealing.

I like to emulate the 1970s dinner lady waste not want not philosophy in my own house, and I will sneak celery and beetroot leaves (pictured above), broccoli stalks and those feathery aniseedy fronds of fennel into dishes when I can. How about you, what's your favourite vegetable offal?

10 comments:

  1. Love the title! I had to come and see what this exotic new dish consisted of!
    I always use broccoli stems, and have recently started putting tiny broccoli leaves into stir fry.
    Well done for using everything up. At least those green leaves cook down well, but it's always hard to get through a big bunch!

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    1. The leaves were a bit tough in places - not quite like spinach...

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  2. I like the cabbage innards just like the kids at your school. I usually eat them while I'm cutting up a cabbage for other reasons. You paint quite a picture with the lunch ladies leaning out the window with tough cabbage. I'm sure that couldn't be done over here today.

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    1. Although I munched my way through a few cabbage treats back then I'm not so keen on raw cabbage stalk now!

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  3. Tamar Adler suggests making a kind of pesto from leaves and stalks, which is a pretty good way of using them up.

    If you haven't read 'An Everlasting Meal', you might find it interesting. It's not a recipe book, but a book about food and cooking with some ideas in it. She is very much in favour of making use of every part of food that comes into the kitchen, even cooking water. She has quite a distinctive writing style, which I thought would bother me, but didn't in the end. I loved it- her ideas really suit my cooking style (ie make it up as you go along) and my aims for running the kitchen. I've found an excerpt from it here http://www.kingstonfarmersmarket.org/everlasting-meal.html

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    1. That's my cooking style too - I rarely follow a recipe! The book sounds great - I'll see if I can track it down.

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  4. I've always used broccoli stalks, but never thought to use the cauliflower leaves and stalks until a girl I worked with put them into a curry. They were very tasty :)

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  5. I like broccoli stalks too. I often peel the skins off and slice them finely for stir fries..

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  6. Well the cabbage stalks here looks really great. But I have always used broccoli stalks. Even the spinach leaves will be a better option. Thanks for the post.

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