10 Tips for Stem to Root Cooking

If just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world! There are many ways that you can reduce food waste. Here are some examples of ways you can use everything from stem to root:
TIP: Keep a collection of potato peels, greens, celery leaves and ends, carrot tops, the woody ends of asparagus stems, onion ends and skins, etc. in the freezer until you have enough to make a stock.


Asparagus woody ends can be made into a delicious soup, stock, or even a tasty relish.


Broccoli stalks have a richer flavor than the florets. They make a great soup or simply peel the tough outer skin. Shred the stalk to make a delicious coleslawlike salad. Broccoli stalks contain calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate. The leaves are also edible. Throw them into a salad or saute with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Substitute broccoli stalks in recipes that call for Brussels sprouts.


Carrots do not need to be peeled. Once washed thoroughly they are ready to use. Vitamins, minerals and protein pack carrots greens. They contain 6 times the calcium of the carrot. Carrot greens (along with radish greens) can be added to a salad–but just a touch as they can be bitter. Carrot greens can be made into a hazelnut pesto! And here is yummy recipe from Bon Appetit that uses the carrot stem-to-root. Roasted carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

Corn on the Cob:

Once the corn kernels are cut off the cob, simmer the cobs with onions and carrots for a simple broth. It can be used to make braises, grits and risotto. It makes a great broth for corn or clam chowder.


Braise radish, turnip, cauliflower, chard, collard, and mustard greens in white wine and water until tender, drain and dress with olive oil and salt and pepper.


Potato Peel soup is lovely way to use up your peels. Garnish with some bacon and potato peel chips for some delicious texture. This recipe works using carrots and parsnips, as well.
Or for a change, try Potato peel stock. Replace the water from a soup recipe with the potato peel stock to give the soup another dimension of flavor. You can also use it to deglaze a pan or to make gravy. Life of Ginger shares her potato peel chip recipe!


If you see marked down tomatoes, grab them. Who cares if they are ugly, bruised, slightly overripe, or lumpy? Use them to make tomato soup, gazpacho, pasta sauce, or panzanella. Don’t want to use the skins in your canning… Michael Nolan, author of I Garden: Urban Style, dehydrates tomato skins and turns them into a powder that is good not only for flavor, but also to add color and variety to dishes. Please note: you cannot eat tomato leaves as they are poisonous.

Stem-to-root is not just for vegetables!


Use apple peels and cores to make jelly. Sprinkle the peels with cinnamon and sugar and dry in the oven for a tasty snack. Use the peels in a smoothie, or chop them up and add into muffins, breads, or pancakes. Or make some apple peel tea.

Citrus Peels:

Oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, and clementine peels can be dried and used as seasoning. Candied orange peel is delicious and makes a tasty and pretty topping on desserts.


Roast and salt watermelon seeds like you would pumpkin seeds. Cut off the hard outer peel and use the crunchy rinds in place of cucumber in salads. Make up a batch of Pickled Watermelon Rinds.

Cooking root to stem is EASY when you’re a member of The Produce Box! We deliver fruits & veggies from local farmers to homes and offices in the Charlotte, Triad, Triangle, Sandhills and Coastal areas of North Carolina. Not a member? Visit our website to sign up today.