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Everyone needs the occasional refresh when it comes to preparing the produce we know and love. Luckily, it’s easy to become a stem-to-tip cook, using up every part of the vegetable, especially the bits that are typically destined for the compost bin. Being innovative with leafy tops and tough stems is surprisingly rewarding and helps reduce kitchen waste as well.

Odds are your favourite kale recipes require the removal of the stems, but we’ve got ideas for how to use it all.

  • Too fibrous to munch on raw, kale stems have the same flavour as the leaves and easily disappear into a smoothie .
  • Pickling transforms crunchy kale stems into savoury bites that can be chopped up and added to a salad or left intact to garnish a Grilled Citrus Caesar .

Potatoes are an affordable option that are always a hit at the dinner table, especially when presented with a new spin.

The leafy tops and curved white bottoms of this vegetable tend to get sacrificed for the sake of uniform chopping. Now it’s time to embrace these tasty ends.

  • From the leaf to the stalks, this Mushroom, Celery & Parmesan Salad uses the vegetable in its entirety.
  • Celery leaves can be used as a garnish like any herb. Their bold celery flavour is a welcome addition to soups, stocks, salads (like tuna or simple greens) or pesto.

The next time you’re shopping for carrots, pick a bunch that comes with the leaves—they’re a real bonus in the kitchen. Here’s how to put those carrot tops to good use.

  • Transform green carrot tops into a pesto that’s served over cumin-flecked roasted carrots.
  • Carrot greens make a stand-out addition to any salad. Chop finely and toss them with easy-to-make Maple Vinaigrette and some mixed greens.

Cauliflower leaves usually get tossed in favour of the florets, so do your wallet a favour and use the whole veg.

  • Because they’re thinner than the florets, the reserved cauliflower leaves are added to the skillet during the last two minutes of cooking in this Sicilian Style Sautéed Cauliflower recipe.
  • Equal parts tender and crunchy, roasted cauliflower leaves and stems are easy to make. Chop and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then place on a lined baking sheet and roast at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

The florets at the top of a broccoli plant usually get top billing in recipes, but the tough stalks are just as delicious.

  • Trim and peel stalks, then shred on a box grater for a quick and easy slaw .
  • When making cream of broccoli soup, don’t add just the florets. Slice the stalks and toss them into the pot for more broccoli goodness.


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