Zero-waste cooking is not just an environmental aspiration it also can come as one of the most fun and creative kitchen challenges.
Way too often recipes call for only one part of a vegetable or animal, so what do you do with everything else?
Today I want to talk about how to think bigger about what you do with the “other” parts of the vegetable so they are as unique and delicious as the prized gem.
Whether it be cauliflower, kale, carrots, or beets, there is more to the plant than you think.
Since I can’t get into each individual vegetable in one post, the highlight of today’s blog will be the beet. However, many of the best practices I will go over can be used with other greens, stems, roots, etc.
Parts of the Beet
While you may be used to cooking just the beetroot and disposing of the stem and leaves, the whole plant is edible!
The Root is what we traditionally think of as a beet. Great for salads, sides, juicing, or even making burgers!
The Leaves are completely edible. They may be pretty dirty so be sure to wash them well. They are juicy and can be cooked like any other leafy green (more on that below).
The Stems are where you can really get creative. If they are really small and thin you can just cook them right with the leaves. If they are larger and more fibrous (closer to kale stems), then you want to remove them from the leaf and cook separately.
The Skin provides a hell of a lot of flavor, however, they are kind of ugly. Most people like to peel the skin off the root to make the beet more uniform and visually appealing. That’s totally fine, but don’t throw them away!
How and what to cook with beets!
I could go on all day with a ton of different ways to make beets fun, unique, and delicious. I am going to provide a lot of ways to cook your roots, leaves, stems, and skins but only 1 recipe for each. If you want to know how to make any of the other suggested dishes, send me a DMor leave a comment below. I’m always happy to share recipes 🙂
Below, I’ll share my recipe for my favorite roasted beetroot, crunchy stem “fries,” and how I used the leaves to make a flavorful pesto sauce.
- Roasted Beets (recipe below),
- Stir-fried beets,
- Beet fries,
- Grilled Beets,
- Beet salads,
- Shaved Beets,
- Beet burgers,
- Beet tacos,
- Breakfast beets,
- Beet juice
- Beet hummus
Recipe for the Perfect Roasted Beets:
- Olive oil
- After washing the beets, remove the stems and leaves.
- Keep them whole and place them in a roasting pan, season generously with salt and olive oil.
- Cover tightly and roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until soft to a fork. (If you have a dutch oven, I highly recommend using it)
- Uncover and let them cool for about 10 min. Once cooled, peel, slice and serve!
- Be sure to save the peels to use for stock or to compost 🌳
- Roasted greens,
- Salad greens,
- Sauteed greens,
- Braised greens,
- Beet leaf pesto
- Swap your favorite leafy greens recipes and use beet leaves if you have them in the fridge!
Recipe for Citrus-Beet Leaf Pesto:
- Beet leaves
- 2 limes
- 1/4 of an orange
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Bunch of cilantro
- 3-4 scallions
- Salt to taste
- Wash the leaves very well and dry them. Then place in a roasting pan with 2 whole Roma tomatoes (we purchase ours from @b5farm 🍅), 3 cloves of garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes or until leaves just begin to wilt.
- Transfer the leaves to a blender but keep roasting the tomatoes and garlic until the garlic begins to brown and the tomato skin peels off easily (another 10-15 min).
- Remove tomato and garlic from the oven and peel the skins.
- Once you remove the tomato skins, add garlic and tomatoes to the blender along with cilantro, scallion, and lime and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
- Blend and add olive oil until you reach your desired consistency.
- Salt to taste.
- Grilled stems
- Beet stem fries
- Chopped stems for a breakfast hash or in an omelet
- Chopped stems for soffrito or a mirepoix
- Chopped stems for bolognese
- Chopped stems for fried rice
- I typically just use the stems as I sautee onions, garlic, ginger, etc. as the base of many dishes.
Recipe for Beet-stem “fries”
- Beet stems
- Garlic powder
- Grapeseed Oil (Or another high heat oil)
- Once the stems are separated, cut them into 2-inch pieces.
- Season with salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika then fry in a skillet with grapeseed oil until they have a slight char.
- You can also grill the stems!
They make a yummy snack or a good crunch addition to any dish!
Want recipes for any of the other suggested dishes? Or do you have any favorite zero waste recipes? Leave them in the comments!