Putting Kitchen Scraps to Good Use

I’ve been thinking a lot about respect for food lately. It all started with an interview I did with Zahra Parvinian, board member at the Toronto Food Policy Council (I’ll be sharing this interview next week.) She talked about how, as an immigrant, she was disturbed by the North American attitude towards food. She thinks of the kitchen as a place of family, of community and respect, so when she saw shows like Hell’s Kitchen, where Gordon Ramsay throws away platefuls of food while screaming abuse upon his underlings, she was shocked.

That got me thinking about how I view food. As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m hardly the patron saint of food preservation, but lately, I’ve been trying to make more of an effort – planning my meals in advance and using my List of Endangered Foods method. So when I heard this Splendid Table podcast about using up kitchen throwaways, I was intrigued. Here are some of their tips (as well as my own) on using up scraps you would normally throw in the trash:


Ginger Peels

I always threw ginger peels in the trash, but apparently they are just as flavourful as the inside of the ginger – just a bit woodier. Now I  save the peels, throw them in a mason jar with some boiling water and pop it in the fridge. A few hours later, I have ginger tea. Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory as well as a digestive aid, so sipping on this tea will help make things right.


Broccoli Stalks

Wait! Stop throwing away those broccoli stalks right this minute! Stalks are just as delicious as the florets. When I roast broccoli, I cut up the stalks as well (everything except the last woody inch or so.) I don’t even bother peeling it – I just toss it on the baking sheet with the florets, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast. They come out delicious. You could also steam them, or if you’re feeling ambitious, you can peel them and then shred them to use in a slaw.


Kale Stems

You pay so much for kale; why throw the stems away? When I sauté kale, I just separate the leaves from the stems, blanch the lot, and then add the stems to the frying pan first along with olive oil and garlic. When they are almost tender, I add in the leaves and finish sautéing. They add a delicious firm texture which provides a nice counterpoint to the leaves.

This is just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce) – next time I’ll tell you what to do with cilantro stems, celery leaves and beet greens. My immigrant parents are so proud right now…

Photo credit: elana’s pantry via photopin cc


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