cooking tips & tricks / food, glorious food

Waste Less, Save More! Why You Should Start Cooking “Root to Leaf”

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It’s a new year so you’re probably looking to save some money, eat better, and waste less food. The easiest way to do all 3 is by embracing “root to leaf” cooking. By finding creative ways to use every part of the vegetables we cook with, your grocery dollars will stretch farther and you’ll become a better cook. What’s not to love? Here are four common vegetables that are excellent candidates for your next “root to leaf” recipe:

Leek greens

You’re not the only one who has bought leeks and then immediately composted the green part. We’ve all done it, but it’s pretty absurd when you realize that the green part is basically half of the leek. It’s like buying a pair of socks and then throwing one of the socks out as soon as you get home. Leek greens have a wonderfully rich, vegetal flavor that’s perfect for your next winter soup or batch of stock/broth. They’re also great sauteed with pasta or eggs!

Beet greens

Beets and chard are in the same plant family, which means that beet greens are essentially just undersized chard leaves! They taste very similar to chard and are excellent sauteed in some olive oil with garlic and drizzled with lemon juice. They’re also great additions to a healthy beet salad!

Carrot tops

In comedy and in the kitchen, carrot tops have been forgotten and overlooked. It’s a shame because carrot leaves make excellent additions to sauces like chimichurri.

Fennel stalks

Like leek greens and carrot tops, fennel stalks are an enormous piece of a commonly-used vegetable that aren’t always appreciated or even used in our cooking. We love throwing fennel fronds into a braising liquid as they infuse it with a wonderfully sweet flavor. They’re also excellent thinly shaved in salads or incorporated into pesto!


  • Amanda Hua
    January 8, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Is there example recipes you can link to this please? (Also there’s small typo in the last sentence of the intro)

    • Reilly Brock
      January 8, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      Hey Amanda! Thanks for reading this. That’s a great idea! We added a few recipe links for you. We appreciate the typo catch too! While we’re all about imperfection in produce, we strive for perfect spelling!

  • shilgia zwerg
    January 8, 2018 at 7:11 am

    You can also add radish leaves to your salad, add the leaves of broccoli and cauliflower to soups (or eat them ray- they taste like cabbage leaves).

    Great site, great project! Too much food is wasted. If possible I buy strange looking carrots and potatoes- the kids love them for their unique shape.

    • Reilly Brock
      January 8, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      This is a great suggestion. Thanks so much for sharing! We really appreciate your support in our fight against food waste. Everyone wins when we waste less!

  • Que Estavia
    February 6, 2018 at 5:15 am

    I made pesto with my carrot tops last time. It lasted about a week and a half. I pretty much put it in everything I cooked. I used parmesan cheese and walnuts and put about 1/2 and 1/2 olive oil and toasted sesame oil in it. if my carrots come with tops I may do it again or looks for another recipe.

    • John Zamora
      February 6, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      Awesome! We love carrot top pesto. Thanks for embracing "root to leaf" eating!


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