Following the nose to tail practice with meat is the root to stem trend to reduce waste. Still, in many cookbooks and recipes, you are directed to remove the tops from beets and radishes or remove the stalk from broccoli top. All of these parts with their unique tastes and textures can be utilized. With some tops such as carrots tops one must be careful since they tend to be very bitter. Other parts, such as stems, require peeling the outside layer or for making stock.
Most recipes tell you to cut off the top and use the bottom potion. The leafy top can still be useful for flavoring soups or used raw in salad and even sauted.
I am personally peeling less and using the potatoes but for recipes calling for peeling. I still prefer my mashed potatoes not to have peels, you can save the peels by tossing in olive oil on a baking sheet and then placing in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 425 F until browned and crunchy. Sprinkle with spices for extra flavor.
When I cooked asparagus I alway removed the tough woody ends and put into the compost bin. Now I throw the ends into a storage bag in the freezer to make stock.
I really like beets but never really used the greens. The trend now is to make a pesto or saute. Using them in a salad when making borsch is a way to use the greens instead of compost.
I used to buy mostly frozen brocoli to avoid wasting the stalks. If you peel the sides of the stack you can avoid the toughness and waste less.
I have never eaten carrot tops. Research has told me that they are very bitter are edible. The trick is to blanch them to remove some of the bitterness. Use for stocks, saute, smoothies and instead of parsley but be careful of amounts.
You can eat the stems and leaves of the cauliflower. Chop up the steams and cook with the flowers.
I have used most of the celery plant for years. It is easy to toss in the freezer for stock. They can also be dried but I found they are tough so I suggest grinding them for celery powder or making celery salt. Celery leaves can also be used instead of parsley.
I have aways liked the stem better than the leaves. Saute them to use in dishes.
I discoved fennel a couple of years ago and found them quite good. Try the fonds in salads for extra taste.
Radish leaves –
These leaves do not last long but makes great pesto.
There are many areas where it is common to eat the turnips green. You can also try eating the greens in a tossed salad.
I hope you are able to take the time to experiment with using as much as the vegetable as possible to prevent waste. Next time you touch a vegetable think about another way to use the part you tossed away before. You might be surprized how much less you can waste. If you find a part not to your liking then compost the parts.