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Oct 18, 2010 04:52 PM

Vegetable Offal ... do you partake?

This article about secondary edible parts of vegetables [ ], got me curious.

Besides the main part of a vegetable, do you use any of the secondary parts -- or what I'd like to think of as "vegetable offal"?

For example, I will often make a salad from the leaves of sweet potatoes, and if I can get enough of brocoli leaves, then I'll do the same.

In fact, sweet potato leaves are great. Blanch the leaves, mix together some soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, diced garlic, chili flakes, a dash of sugar, some salt and white pepper to taste, then combine all of it with the leaves, and refrigerate overnight and you've got yourself one mighty fine dish to wash down even the driest bowls of white rice.

What about you?

Do you partake of vegetable offal?

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  1. Squash seeds, broccoli & cauliflower stems and leaves, beet greens, celery leaves, pea shoots - check. I've tried eating mature carrot & radish greens, but I don't find them very palatable.

    4 Replies
    1. re: small h

      I adore beet greens when I can get ahold of them. Celery leaves are very tasty in salads - my husband made one with shredded pomelo, celery leaves and rice vinegar that was very nice. I'm currently trying to find some taro leaves to make pau pau.

      I actually like chayote squash leaves more than I like the squash itself. They're called dragon whisker vegetables in Chinese, and they are fantastic blanched and used in salads. Pea shoots are really good too, but I wouldn't consider them offal because they have to be grown specifically for that purpose, which is why they're so expensive.

      Things that I don't eat, but are edible, generally get thrown into the stock pot.

      1. re: small h

        +1 for the cauliflower stems. Do you find that they give you bad breath?

        1. re: pdxgastro

          No, not at all. But I could see how they'd be hard to digest for some people.

        2. re: small h

          Absolutely squash seeds, broccoli and cauliflower stems and celery leaves! I've never tried beet greens or pea shoots but I bet I'd like those as well.

          I once used some corn husks to give a chicken stock a lovely sweet taste.

        3. Love beet and kohlrabi greens. Also love garlic scapes. I have used carrot greens in gumbo z'herbes, but am not sure they add anything, since there are so many other greens in there. Like small h, I also enjoy pea shoots. Our WF sells them for a small fortune. Broccoli stems are delicious shredded, blanched, and then tossed with brown butter and toasted walnuts. I think they are the sweetest part of the broccoli and since everyone else in my family eats only the florets, there is more of the good stuff for me.

          I have never had sweet potato greens. I'm guessing you get them from your CSA or grow your own sweet potatoes?

          6 Replies
          1. re: Isolda

            I have never had sweet potato greens. I'm guessing you get them from your CSA or grow your own sweet potatoes?

            From the garden (or my mom's garden anyway).

            I'm going to start and try to cook up some broccoli leaves -- I'm bet those are nutritional powerhouses. Maybe I could sautee them with some sweetbreads ... I can call it "offal-offal" like they do with "piri piri" ....

            1. re: ipsedixit

              that's the offal-lest sounding offal dish i've ever heard of!! : )

              1. re: ipsedixit

                There is a milkshake drink sold by the Newport Creamery chain in RI called an "awful-awful" which sounds far more appetizing than your version LOL

                1. re: brokentelephone

                  Haven't had one of those in YEARS!!! They really are "awful big and awful good."

              2. re: Isolda

                I must try that with the broccoli stems, it sounds fantastic!

                1. re: Isolda

                  Kohlrabi greens are a great substitute for grape leaves when making dolmade or for cabbage leaves for stuffed cabbage.
                  Raw broccoli stems make a mighty fine coleslaw too!

                2. I love salting and toasting squash seeds, watermelone seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.

                  12 Replies
                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      When I was kid, I used to love sucking the salt off of watermelon seeds. Bushwickgirl you can get them in most Asian grocery stores....

                        1. re: funniduck

                          I have never seen these in an Asian grocery store, or maybe just didn't know they were watermelon seeds. Will ask next time I go.

                          1. re: funniduck

                            It's almost impossible to find a watermelon with seeds anymore, all they sell here are the round seedless ones.

                          2. re: bushwickgirl

                            Yep, they are popular in the middle east. Try a persian market.
                            My grandma made her own, she toasted and then froze them to give them out to everyone in the family when she visited. Smuggled them over the boarder from southern Iraq to north. They are yummy !

                            Traditionally we also make jam out of the rind of the watermelon, i think it's the white part. It's sort of candied. Pumpkin and carrots are also turned into jam.

                            1. re: BamiaWruz

                              Yes, pickled or candied watermelon rind I've had and like. When eating watermelon when I was a very young kid, my mom used to tell me that if I swallowed the seeds rather than spit them out, a watermelon would grow in my stomach, thereby putting the fear of watermelon seeds in me.;-)

                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                Ohhh I see, well either way these are totally washed and roasted like pumpkin seeds, so they're pretty much dead.
                                I heard of someone who years later sneezed and a watermelon seed that he had choked on once came flying out of his lung. Freaky!

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  the watermelon tree, much like the chewing gum tree, in my stomach has thankfully grown at a myopic snail's pace since i was a child. :)

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Funny, and mine as well apparently.;)

                                    What I really want to know is, how do watermelon seeds taste, aside from the salt, similar to squash or sunflower or what seeds?

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      They have a slight sweet taste, but the edible part is very very small and flat, it's nothing compared to a pumpkin seed. They are a lot harder to open too because they are flat, small and the shell is hard. Sometimes people who didn't know how to shell them would just chew the whole thing then spit it out.
                                      They don't taste like pumpkin seeds at all, I think.

                                      1. re: BamiaWruz

                                        Ok, thanks. Sunflower seeds are very popular in NYC and I see lot of people just chew mouthfuls and spit. I like to split them open individually between my teeth, time consuming, but a little more genteel.

                                        I'll keep an eye out for them, next time I'm in an Asian store.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              I think it would take a _lot_ of celery leaf (in place of spinach or lettuce) sandwiches before I get nauseous from it. I'd probably explode before then.

                              Tis another interesting thread tho.

                            2. Chili pepper leaves are an edible, bitter green. I use them in soup. I love the stems of broccoli and peel them before either steaming or adding to a stir fry. Vegetable peelings can also be used to make stock, but I have to confess that I almost never make my own vegetable stock.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: JungMann

                                Speaking of broccoli stems.

                                While most of us know that the stems can be peeled and eaten raw, or lightly steamed, have you ever tried eating the "rough skin" of the broccoli stems themselves?

                                Bear with me here for a minute. Peel or cut off the rough outer skin of the broccoli stems, then boil them until they are fork tender (can take a while depending on the thckness of your skins). Take them out and let them cool, then run them through a blender, strain with a cheesecloth or one of those "Asian spiders" used for noodles or dumplings, and you've got what I like to call "nectar of the jolly Green Giant" (ho! ho! ho!)

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Actually that reminds me that I've had broccoli "guacamole" at some health food place in Chicago that was terrific. I think it was made from the stems, though I've had no success in recreating the recipe.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    That sounds intriguing, but what's the work-to-reward ratio? If it's something really good I could see setting aside a tupperware in the freezer to collect a sizable batch. Otherwise that sounds like some involved and messy work for what, maybe a quarter cup of nectar?

                                    1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                      Yeah, it's not much. Unless you've got alot of broccoli stem skins, not something you'd want to do.