The aesthetic upside of farmers' markets and CSA boxes can also seem like a practical downside: Carrots with poufs of frilly greens. Chard with long, rainbow-colored stems. So much to chop off and discard.
Spotting local chefs spin culinary gold out of these odds and ends, San Francisco-based food writer Tara Duggan wrote Root to Stalk Cooking ($22; Ten Speed Press), which was published last week.
To get an idea of what we should stop tossing into the compost bin, we accompanied Duggan on a trip to the Alemany Farmers' Market.
Do some light stalking. At the Tomatero Farm stand, for instance, she pointed out the giant broccoli stalks whose florets were wreathed in leaves; they feature in her Shaved Broccoli Stalk Salad with Lime and Cotija (get the recipe).
Make stems and cores your friends. Radish leaves can add a peppery note to salads. Apple peels and cores can infuse bourbon. And those chard stems can be turned into a crunchy, chutneylike relish.
Sprout a leek. Duggan's favorite discovery from her research? Leek greens. "I used to think they were inedible," she says, "but they're a nice braising green, with an onion flavor and a silky texture."
Play the field. Given the Bay Area's abundance of fresh produce, explore different markets. Duggan recommended two other local favorites: At the Downtown Berkeley market, she always stops by Riverdog Farm and Dirty Girl Produce. The Two Dog Farm and Ortiz Bros. farm stands at the Civic Center market are both great sources for whole vegetables.
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