14 June 2018

Food Trend: Root-to-Leaf Cooking

Celebrate fresh food and wake up your taste buds by tuning in to 2018’s planet-friendly and cost-effective approach to fresh produce. The days of discarding parts of your fresh produce such as carrot tops or outer cauliflower leaves are over! We invite you to explore the latest food trend – root-to-leaf cooking.

Ironically, it is not so much a new thing but a rediscovery of the way everyone cooked just a couple of generations ago. Our grandmothers (motivated by good home economics) knew to use every single edible morsel that entered their kitchens. These days – with the convenience of supermarket shopping where our veggies and salads are prewashed, pre-sliced and pre-packaged, and so much of our fresh produce is flown in from around the world – we’ve lost touch with exactly what is edible and what is not.

Not only does it make excellent financial sense to get ‘two for the price of one’ when you buy whole veggies (including roots, stalks and leaves), the ‘extra’ bits that go into your cuisine instead of on your compost heap are packed with flavour and nutrition. Here are a few of our favourite (and extra-easy) ways to make the most of nature’s bounty.

Carrot Leaves

Don’t leave these for the bunnies! Carrot leaves are 100 percent edible, with a herby, earthy, subtle carrot flavour. Simply wash well to get any sand out of the leaves and then use them exactly as you would fresh parsley! You can even make a delectable fresh carrot pesto that is the very essence of gourmet dining.

Beetroot Leaves and Stalks

Did you know that the entire beetroot plant – including the bulbs, stems and leaves – is edible both cooked and raw? This superfood packs a powerful nutritional punch, and you can use every scrap of the vegetable to get creative in the kitchen. Cook the mild, slightly bitter leaves as you would spinach or kale. Sauté them in a frying pan with extra-virgin olive oil for warm, wilted greens; chop them into a fresh salad; or roast them for crispy, chiplike snacks. The stalks can be sliced up and fried with a little olive oil and a spritz of vinegar or citrus juice for a tasty side dish.

Cauliflower Stems and Leaves

Steam cauliflower stems and leaves and then purée them with leeks, potatoes and roasted garlic to make a delicious soup. You can also roast the stems with olive oil and rosemary for a mouthwatering side dish, or spiralise and sauté them to serve topped with your favourite sauce. If you’re a fan of cauliflower mash or cauli rice, dice the stems and leaves and add them in while you cook the cauliflower florets!

Broccoli Stems and Leaves

If you only ever use the florets on a head of broccoli, then you’re missing out – the leaves and stems are delicious too! If the stems are a little woody, simply peel a thin layer from the outside (reserving the peelings for soup stock) and then spiralise the stems for veggie noodles or slice long thin strips with a veggie peeler. Add these fine strips to a coleslaw or salad, or sauté them with melted butter and garlic in a frying pan until just cooked. Broccoli leaves can be added to stir-fries or sautéed as you would the stems. They pack a powerful nutritional punch if you whizz them up in a green smoothie, although you may want to add a granny smith apple to increase the smoothie’s natural sweetness.

Radish Leaves

Radish leaves taste like peppery rocket and are simply delicious tossed into a salad. You can also wilt them in a pan and then stir them into your pasta dish.

Butternut or Pumpkin Seeds

These make a mouthwatering savoury snack, and are also perfect for sprinkling over salads or soups for additional crunch and flavour. When you are preparing your butternut or pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, rinse them with water and pick out any stringy bits. Pat dry with a paper towel and then pop them into a small bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt. Spread them out in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast in an oven preheated to 275˚C for about 15 minutes until they start to pop. (Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.) Remove them from the oven and leave to cool before serving.

Peel Perfection

  • Don’t throw away your veggie peels and offcuts: simply collect everything from the tough top bits of leeks, onion skins, celery offcuts to asparagus ends and other vegetable scraps In a zip lock bag in the freezer until you have enough to make a homemade soup stock. (If you’d like a refresher course on how to make your own stock, click here.)
  • Potato and sweet potato peelings make delicious oven chips. Simply toss them in a little olive oil and salt, spread them out on an oven tray and bake at 200˚C for about 25 minutes.


For more delicious foodie inspiration visit our recipe site. Shop online at where we offer countrywide free delivery or visit your nearest Le Creuset Boutique Store. Did you like this post? Sign up to our newsletter and we’ll send you more news and promotions!

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How-To, Recipes