Don’t waste those salad scraps!

I hate wasting food. I spent good money on these vegetables and I know they are full of nutrients, so I make it my goal to use every inch that I can. Though unappetizing, even things like carrot tops and kale stems are technically edible, so how to make use of them?

Today’s salad “waste” becomes tomorrow’s soup and pesto!

While making salad, I sort scraps into three categories: pesto, broth, and compost.

Pesto:

Carrot tops, lettuce cores and stems… anything green that will blend easily goes here. Click over to this post from a few weeks ago for instructions on how to use various greens to make pesto.

Broth:

I keep a container of scraps in the fridge or freezer so that I always have veggies to add to broth when I have bones to boil. This includes things like the part of a carrot where green meets orange, bits of roots, and tough stems (like kale) that are too stringy to blend up in pesto. 

Compost:

If something is moldy or stubbornly dirty, it lands in the compost pile. Any other veggie scraps usually find a home in one of the other categories. When I made today’s salad, I didn’t have a compost pile at all!

A couple of easy ways to add a twist to a simple salad…

Today’s salad started pretty basic: romaine lettuce, spring greens, and carrots. Add kale and carrot top pesto, though, and it becomes something special.

Kale can be hard to chew, so I like to chop it up small when I add it to salads. Not only does this mean you have smaller pieces to chew, it also increases the surface area so that it can soak up extra dressing. Oil – especially avocado oil – helps to soften and tenderize raw kale. 

My favorite method for mincing leafy greens (including herbs) is to roll them up tightly, slice them into lovely little spirals, then chop the spirals into tiny pieces. You can, of course, skip that last step and unwind the spirals into ribbons, which is a great choice for kale salads that don't have any lettuce at all.

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For the final touch, thin one part pesto with two parts oil to make carrot top dressing (pesto recipe here).

How do you decrease waste in the kitchen?

Do you have a special recipe that uses parts of a vegetable that a person would ordinarily throw out? Please leave a comment — I want to know all your secrets!