Why You Should Stop Throwing Out Your Vegetable Tops

We're all about minimizing food waste and — if you're reading this — there's a good chance you are, too. According to the FDA, a whopping 30% to 40% of the entire U.S. food supply goes to food waste. "Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills," it reports. "Additionally, water, energy, and labor used to produce wasted food could have been employed for other purposes."

Believe it or not, those would-be-discarded veggie tops lying on your cutting board can do a lot more heavy lifting in the kitchen than in the garbage can — Not to mention that saving food scraps is economical, as well. Perhaps you enjoyed that bulb fennel so much that you'd already like to eat it again: Regrow it. Per Food Revolution, just the remaining scraps are often enough to regrow many veggies into new plants. In fact, potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots, turnips, beets, and bok choy can all be totally regrown from scraps, via Rural Sprout. Veggie scraps also make ideal additions to any thriving compost, says Treehugger – cooked or raw. But, you can do more with your veggie scraps than simply repurpose them. 

In fact, they can even be the star ingredient of your next dish. Here's how to give those vegetable tops new life.

Substitute veggie tops for normal produce ingredients

So, you just sliced up a bunch of Daucus carota and now you have all these carrot tops lying around. Not to worry — carrot tops have an earthy, parsley-like taste and can be blended into pesto or hummus, per Modern Harvest. Lifehacker recommends stirring those tops into soup.

Maybe you've been on a root vegetable kick, and after the music fades you find you're up to your eyeballs in leftover leafy stems. If so, rejoice. Turnip greens have a natural bitterness complemented by bacon and onions; But, they can also be used just like regular lettuce, in a salad or added to soup. When it comes to radish greens, The Kitchn compares the flavor to peppery arugula, and suggests preparing them the same way: Try wilting radish tops into pasta, sprinkling them over a salad, or even baked into a quiche. Those beet greens, says Lifehacker, can be stir-fried or used as the wrappers for cabbage rolls (via Modern Harvest).

If you're working with a less specific hodge-podge of assorted veggie tops, you have everything you need to make a knock-out stock. According to Tasty, making vegetable stock from scratch is as simple as tossing leftover veggie scraps into a pot of boiling water and letting it steep like tea.