You’ve heard of nose-to-tail eating ~ now try roots-to-tops eating! Not only does this way of cooking give you more veggie bang for your buck, but it reduces food waste. It also means that you can grow more food with less work.
So here are some suggestions that might be new to you in your quest to eat more of the whole plant. Vegetables such as cucumber, squash, pumpkin and aubergine: not only can we eat the fruit but we can also eat the leaves, some of them raw, some cooked.
Roots-to-tops eating is not limited to roots, stems and leaves. The pretty yellow flowers of pumpkins can be battered and fried. And talking of flowers, we eat cauliflower and broccoli and it turns out we can also eat the leaves. Roast them and toss them with herbs or seeds and a bit of oil.
Pods such as peas and beans also have edible leaves. Consider how much more food you could harvest from the row of beans pictured above.
Many cooks cut off the green parts of leeks, but they can in fact be fried until they are soft and fragrant.
The leaves from peppers are edible and delicious. They have a milder pepper flavour than the peppers themselves.
And then there are the root vegetables.
The delicate tops of radishes pack a surprising pungent kick of flavour, eaten raw or slightly wilted.
We’ve long been eating immature beetroot leaves in salads, but you can also cook the bigger leaves in the same way as you would spinach.
Apparently mild flavoured sweet potato leaves are high in vitamins and minerals.
We lightly fry turnip leaves and they are often cooked with bacon.
And don’t overlook carrot tops. Try finely chopping them into salads, although their taste can be a little bitter. Consider softening the greens by blanching them. You can sauté them in olive oil, with garlic and some of your other favourite greens. Add them to a soup or stock or make pesto out of them. These greens are high in chlorophyll, potassium, vitamin K and contain 6 times the vitamin C of the root, according to the UK Carrot Museum.
Fennel tops add subtle flavour to fish sauces and mayonnaise. The stalks and green leaves of the fennel top, known as fronds, also add body and flavour to soups, stocks and roasted meat.
To read more about what you can do with your fruit and vegetable harvests, click here.