Waste Not, Want Not

The elaborate meaning is that if we don’t waste anything, then we won’t want anything. I’m not certain if it’s  true but it’s definitely a saying that was common in my home as a child. It came from my depression era grandmother who in her farm upbringing learned to use more parts of a chicken that I wish to acknowledge. And we know this is true of other cultures such as the Chinese and the Native Americans.

What we don’t always realize unless we’re steeped in nutritional knowhow is that some of those items that we might consider tossing into the compost are laden with vitamins and can make a really attractive dish on our tables.

I was traveling for a couple of days this past week and much to my chagrin, my male household didn’t taken it upon themselves to build out menus with our CSA produce in my absence. Not to worry, there’s always the weekend. But when the weekend came, the crisper drawers were overflowing and I needed a way to use the produce, not to mention the the ancillary greens that came with them. First and foremost, there is always the green smoothie alternative and both carrot tops and beet greens work well within these. Pulverized and accompanying frozen fruit any traces of bitterness are diminished. My issue was that we also had a large reserve of swiss chard so that would be my smoothie substance for the week. I went looking for something a bit different and came across these two recipes:

Carrot Top Pesto
Adapted from the Showfood Chef

1 bunch carrot greens, washed, and loosely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup chopped italian parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Toast the walnuts in the toaster oven. Be sure not to burn. In a saute pan, heat 2 tbls of the olive oil over med. heat. Add the onions and loosely chopped carrot greens. Heat the greens and onions just til wilted (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool for a few moments.
In a blender, add the garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, walnuts, parsley, cheese, carrot greens mixture and half of the left over olive oil. Puree in pulses. Add the rest of the olive oil as needed to make a loose paste. Taste and adjust seasonings and oil.
We used this as a spread on fresh bread but it would also work well on pasta. In full disclosure, while writing this post, I came across this list indicating that carrot tops may have a mild toxicity.

Bengali Beet Greens
Adapted from Hare Krsna

1 Tbs olive oil
1 inch fresh ginger
½ tsp. Asafoetida
1 Tbs crushed red chiles
1 large bunch fresh beet greens
4 medium-large Potatoes diced
1 tsp. Fennel seeds
Salt to taste

Dice the potatoes and then lightly boil them for a few minutes. Heat the olive oil and add ginger, Asafoetida, and fennel seeds. Add the beet greens, and fry on a high flame. After about 5 minutes of frying, add salt, the dried chiles, and the potatoes. Heat until warmed through.

What else might you be wasting that will prevent you from wanting?

Leave a comment


  1. Must admit to being guilty of not using the greens, thanks for the heads up!

  2. I love how you use everything and teach us how to too. 🙂 I have a friend in Jerusalem, who came from the US. She would by celery stalks and the ladies around her would gasp and ask what in the world was she going to do with all of that. They actually used the leaves and tossed the rest. ha!
    Thank you , Tammy, for writing in such a fun way!

  3. Tammy, you are quite amazing. Only very rarely do we see behind the scenes to the careful systems you have to live out your philosophy; and to appreciate how important the recipes you feature are in making sure you use all your resources wisely.

    Breathtaking, actually.

  4. That’s very cool. I was very excited this winter to get whole beets from my CSA. I used the greens in lasagna, and my husband liked it better than spinach!

  5. Sally Mom

     /  May 26, 2011

    Tammy Dear, this is extraordinary information. I always use the greens of everything in soups and stirfries but never carrot tops!
    Love the idea and the contents in your recipe for carrot tops and will try soon.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Cindy – give them a try. The pesto is divine.

    Debbie – thanks for the kind words. That’s funny about your friend educating the market on how to use celery.

    Kate – Also very kind. I have never had a read at your blog where I didn’t learn a great deal and add material to my own reading list.

    Valerie – Thank you for visiting and for your comment. I find beet greens mild but I know that’s not the case with everyone.

    Sally – The pesto turned out remarkable and it prolongs the life of the carrot to get the greens off – so all around a really good solution.

  7. Wonderful post, Tammy.

    Love greens ~ beet greens, chard, kale, spinach . . . but I’ve never even considered using carrot tops ~ I’ll check out the toxicity issue.

    BTW: rhubarb leaves are toxic.

  8. Dear Husband

     /  May 26, 2011

    While you were travelling, the males in your household did some food experimentation of our own… we wanted to see how the rest of America dines by visiting the local pizza joint and sampling the fare at In-N-Out. We’ve been completely converted in our food philosphies. I suspect that it will take many years to undo the damage that has now been caused since you left us alone without prepared wholesome meals for an extended three day stretch!

  9. We like greens, beet, collard, Swiss chard, and kale. I’ve never tried carrot greens. Perhaps because I usually buy carrots in a bag without the greens. Thank you for the pesto recipes. Blessings to you, Tammy…

    • The carrots stay more fresh without their tops so it does make since for the stores to sell them that way.

  10. Sigh… even though your men didn’t step up in your absence, they sound like good sports overall. I struggle with serving greens, zucchini, eggplant, pesto and I wouldn’t even attempt a green smoothie.

    The squash issue is really a bummer – ratatouille has always been my reduced calorie comfort food and way to get enough veggies in the winter. I swear it’s as good as mac & cheese in the winter! It’s a gaping hole in my diet….

    I grew up in a family who thinks anything and everything “old” must be thrown away immediately, wrapped in as much plastic as possible. Industrial and chemical science is way more trustworthy than “dirty” old nature….

    Agreed – avoid the rhubarb greens!

    • Start by sneaking it in. I have been known to puree greens and slip them in sauce. Fnely chopped and rolled into tortillas with sauce and cheesy goodness – yum!

  11. Lisa H

     /  May 26, 2011

    Thanks for the tip on carrot greens–I always thought it a waste to toss them (in the mulch pile, of course) but never took the time to do any searching for using them in cooking. Thanks!
    What I love about your recipes is that since I get the same produce in my CSA box, you give me immediate uses for my produce. I’m making your dishes tonight!

  12. Lisa H

     /  May 26, 2011

    p.s. I’m glad you use the Asafoetida powder. It’s been awhile since I’ve added that to my dishes. Yummy!

  13. I didn’t know carrot tops were edible!

  14. I’ve been a greens fan since I was a kid, but confess to never trying carrot greens, I’ll have to gie them a try – they usually just go to the compost pile. . .

  15. Tammy-I read this right after my CSA delivery and my turnip greens have been in my mind ever since. I made a salad to go with dinner tonight and almost passed over the turnips once again. Then I thought about this post and took them out and chopped up the greens. A quick saute in olive oil and we had turnip greens and salad with dinner. I even added some leftover parsley to the salad! Thanks for the motivation. I felt so proud to not waste that wonderfully nourishing food.

    • Good for you Jennifer!! They are so amazingly healthy. Next time, try sautéing in a bit of sesame oil for a different flavor.

  16. One of the reasons I love smoothies – they are a great way to use up all sorts of extras. Thank you for these other recipes. They will be just dandy!

  17. Peggy Minard

     /  May 27, 2011

    Tammy, I’m embarrassed to admit how much produce goes to waste in this testosterone driven house. I was feeling very inspired as I read. How little did I know I would get a good belly laugh for the day when I came across the Husband post. As I read it, my mind was hearing it in Husbands voice; and I could see the grin on his face! HAAAA! Gotta love him!

    • You’re not alone. I’ve read some horrifying statistics on produce waste. Freezing, dehydrating, juicing and making stock really helps me.

  18. Lisa H

     /  May 27, 2011

    The potatoes were a huge hit last night!

  19. I love that you made this a topic! And I remember how fascinated I was back at school when I learned in Geography class that you can use *everything* of a palm – th leaves, the ruit / nuts, the stem, … A while ago, I made a stir fry from kohlrabi leaves, but I didn’t like them that much. 😦 Must try carrot greens now! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Kath. When my kohlrabi came in, I looked all over to find out if I could eat them. I didn’t but I did learn that I could use radish greens!

  20. Beet greens are AMAZING actually so thank you mentioning them. But carrot greens never occurred to me!

  21. It’s a nice phrase in theory but not always in practice.
    If we start trying not to waste anything we end up increasing our staff costs. lol
    Nice idea for thee carrot top pesto though, we usually put them into the stock if we have a pan on

    • Yeah, I don’t know that I buy into the theory that using everything eliminates want – but I do love the carrot top pesto.

  22. Hi Tammy,
    I love the carrot top pesto idea. I’ve used them before in stir fries, but have been frustrated by their toughness. Pesto, yes!

  23. I had no idea that carrot greens were even edible. Of course there is no type of pesto that I think I wouldn’t love!

  24. I should add that, even with daughters, I never leave town without detailed food instructions 😉

  25. Instructions are a waste of energy for me… I’m best to just let it go and what happens, happens. That way I’m not frustrated, disappointed or annoyed when I find they’ve completely blown it off.

  26. Hi Tammy–It has only been in recent years that I’ve cooked “alternative” greens, and I feel silly for having tossed so many good things! Sauteed beet greens are spectacular. The carrot greens are good too, if used right away. I’ll have to try that carrot top pesto.

    re: waste not want not–I also try to apply to my pantry in general–use what I have before it goes south…

  27. I have always either composted the tops or feed them to the chickens, now I will give this a try thanks to your informative post!

  28. LOVE the look of the carrot top pesto!! Wow! Thanks for the recipe- this is going in my collection!

  29. Oh dear
    A hot issue for me in that what I do in this situation is to use my juicer. Yes the “pulp” gets composted and the juice is delish but I still feel VERY guilty.

    • I once tried to make crackers out of the pulp by mixing them with spices and putting them in the dehydrator. Sort of like brillo pads.

  30. Green is so good for you, isn’t it ? especially at this Season, all new and fresh : young leaves of radish for soups, fennel leaves on grilled fish, spinach, swiss card for gratings, artichokes, green onions. I did not know about carrot greens though. Something new to try ! thank you Tammy.

  31. I always wondered if there was anything you could do with carrot tops. Thanks for the recipe, and the toxicity warning!

  32. I love finding ways to use the greens, just to see how much of what I get I can consume. These recipes are new to me and I cannot wait to try them out as they sound delicious.

  33. Great info, especially as I get ready to pick up my first CSA this week!

  34. Thanks for the recipes. I recently shared my evolving experience with greens, and that I started using beet greens and turnip greens. I know some people save and use the fat that cooks off meat. I don’t, but it would be a waste not want not thing to do.

  35. And you know what, I just threw away carrot greens last week 😦 Nooooooo


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