Three Ways To Use Those Forgotten Vegetable Tops In Your Food

Three Ways To Use Those Forgotten Vegetable Tops In Your Food

The last time I bought carrots, the cashier asked if I wanted the tops ripped off. “Almost everyone says yes,” he told me — and the reality is that you’ll often struggle to even find them with the tops attached. That’s too bad, because many vegetable tops are both completely safe and delicious to eat. Here are three preparations worth trying.

Photos by Amelia Crook, Crystal

Turn Radish Tops Into Pesto

Like radishes themselves, radish greens tend to be peppery with a hint of bitterness. They have a high water content and don’t keep long, so I usually wash and rinse sand off them as soon as I get them, then throw them into a food processor with a bunch of other things to make a flexible green pesto. Not only do I get to make use of the leaves, I also have a de facto dipping sauce for raw radish slices as well.

Add Carrot Tops To Your Next Pot Of Soup

Contrary to popular belief, carrot tops are not toxic, so you should absolutely eat them. In fact, they’re another popular addition to pesto (search for “carrot top pesto” and you’ll see what I mean).

Flavour-wise, think of them as a sweeter, more carroty parsley. Cookbook author Deborah Madison, author of the esteemed Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, has a fantastic soup recipe that calls for carrots as well as their leaves for a particularly saturated carrot flavour.

Stir-Fry Beetroot Greens

If you buy raw beetroot rather than the tinned variety, you should absolutely explore cooking with beeroot greens as well, since they have a similar texture and flavour. The easiest way to eat these is by sautéing or stir-frying them in a little oil until wilted; Martha Stewart likes to add a dab of tomato paste, but I often just go for a few cloves of garlic. Bonus: you can toss a few roasted beetroot bulbs in your sauté for full-on root-to-stalk on a plate.


  • I made this suggestion once before and I feel I have to make it again – you really should do a piece on the parts of commonly edible plants which are inedible (eg, rhubarb leaves).

    Perhaps some readers are not aware that just because we can eat one part of a vegetable off the shelf, other parts of it may cause illness, even death.

    You could call it ‘Vegetables of DEATH!’ – so many clicks…

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