5 Ways to Use Vegetable Throwaways

Broc

Annoyed when you end up paying for parts of fruit or veg you think you need to throw out? Your man/woman at the veg stand may be very nice, but it IS really annoying (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) when you walk out of there with unripe/overripe fruit or broccoli stalks longer than your arm. This is definitely something I have had to get used to in Buenos Aires.

The following are five ways to fill your belly with those bits you used to throw away. Here’s to living up to your true frugal-ness.

1. Broccoli Stalk Salad

I bet you weren’t aware of this ingenious use for broccoli stems. You can grate them and make a salad from them. Whoa. Who knew? Apparently everyone, though, because there are recipes all over the place! This is truly useful because broccoli in BA tends to come with a lotta stem and not so much top. I have gotten some truly ridiculous stems with my broccoli that made me weep large tears (overstatement).
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Try adding toasted sunflower seeds, raisins and a simple olive oil/balsamic dressing (thanks Chocolate & Zucchini! ). Maybe asian inspired or even pickled for your next toothpick soiree.
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2. Spinach Stems
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Oh the spinach stems. I think these may be the worst. Not only are they really long, but ninety-five percent of the time the part below the tie or rubber band that holds my leaves together is brown, wet, and gooey. Its gross. I know this is a “yanqui problem” but I am just not used to having to throw away a good portion of the veg that I just paid for. I often end up chopping off most of the stems to avoid having to touch, let alone eat, the bottom bit. I’ll get over it, but I think making a delicious looking indian curry like this one made specifically with the stems would help. Lots of stir-fried stems, too. But, uh, still cut off the brown bits.
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3. Unripe fruit
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They get you when you’re not looking. Your eyes are sweeping around the verdularia, deciding what you want to ask for next (your mind trying to figure out how to say it in Spanish, perhaps) and you get distracted. And right THERE is when they sneak in the rock-hard fruit that leaves bruises on your legs as you walk away. If you can’t stand to wait the days it can take for your peach pear whatever to ripen, poach it! Or at least that’s what they say. And with the deliciously priced wine you can often find here in the Arg, mmmmmmm.
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Oh, the worst is avocado. People say you can microwave it. I say set a booby trap for pigeons.
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4. Over-ripe fruit
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Overripe fruit is a bit disappointing, but not the worst because there are so many options. We all know to make banana bread (the moosewood recipe was the staple in my household); but what about the other fruits? You can bake them a la banana bread: This scone recipe for over-ripe strawberries looks great and Deb says you can use it with just about any fruit. Also try making smoothies if you have access to a blender. Or cook them on the stove with some sugar and eat over pancakes or ice cream, mash-up and cook INTO your pancakes, or layer with whipped cream, nuts and/or granola to make a decadent and semi-nutritious (ish) fool. Just remember to cut away the brown, bruised, or furry bits. Please.
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On the topic of avocados again, this time overripe, people say you can use it as a hair mask . Ew, but I’m down.
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5. Vegi Scraps
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All of those veg scraps you are so used to dumping could be your next vegi stock turned vegetarian soup. Take one of those million produce bags you have in the cupboard and start squirreling away bits from prep in your freezer. Avoid using cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, artichokes, beets and onion skins. These veggies will overpower your broth or turn it brown. Everything else is a goThese guys explain the process better. This leek and lemon soup sounds perfect for spring.
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So this is why your next beer can be on you. Any other ideas I should know about? You know I’d love them…
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