2016-04-21 10.14.53

Every Earth Day, we have a burst of consciousness raising about food waste. The hope is, of course, that all the helpful messages will be carried forward, helping everybody change a few habits in the coming year.

Every little bit helps, right?

For my little contribution to the cause, I hope to sing the praises of using up the greens that come with your veggies. Bunched carrots, beets, turnips and radishes all come with free greens attached. All are tasty, nutritious, and often wasted.

See a recipe I created using whole carrots and tops in the Star Tribune.

Cooking with them is also a great way to save money. You could buy a few loose turnips and then buy a bunch of kale, but a bunch of turnips with leaves is both things in one inexpensive bunch. Swiss chard is the leafy brother of beet greens, so you can always use the beet tops just the same way you would chard or other greens.

If you are into juicing, the green tops are a bonanza of free, nutritious green juice. Just blend them in with a few apples or carrots to take the edge off.

Try this Grown Up Green Juice for a template to use up greens in a juice.

For a plant based, environmentally low impact meal, try these Spicy Stir Fried Radishes with Greens, Tofu and Sliced Almonds. It’s easy, quick, inexpensive, and radishes are a nice change from the usual stir-fry veggies.

Today’s recipe makes use of the freshest Spring radishes for a seasonal and crispy snappy stir fry. You can use the same technique with the first tender turnips and other roots, too.

Soak those greens to get them clean

Soak those greens to get them clean

The only challenge to using the leaves is getting the sand out. Fill a bowl with cold water and soak them for a few minutes, then swish vigorously to loosen the soil. If your bunch had some wilted leaves, just pick through and use what you can. It will work with a lot, it will work with a little.

For my dinner, I went ahead and roasted some tofu separately, for a minimal amount of oil. You can also fry it in the pan.

Tofu for roasting

Tofu for roasting

I quartered the small radishes and quartered and sliced the watermelon radishes. A quick stir fry with some hot chile flakes is all it takes to make a crisp, crunch stir fry.

in a hot pan

in a hot pan

A quick stir around the pan, and a dousing with a little apple juice, tamari, honey or agave and a generous chop of fresh ginger and garlic, and you are ready for the greens.

add the greens

add the greens

The greens will shrink and wilt quickly, so add them after the radishes are crisp-tender. Then throw in the tofu and stir to coat with the simple sauce.

And there you are, enjoying a plant-based, low-impact meal, and keeping a bunch of greens out of the waste stream.

Happy Earth Day, may it last all year.


Spicy Stir Fried Radishes with Greens, Tofu and Almonds

You can sub two small bunches of small beets or turnips, and it will be just as fantastic.

Serves 4

8 ounces extra firm tofu

canola oil, tamari

2 bunches radishes with greens

1 medium watermelon radish

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup apple juice

2 tablespoons honey or agave

2 tablespoons tamari

3 tablespoons julienned ginger

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

cooked rice

First, bake or fry the tofu. To bake, preheat the oven to 400. Drain and cube the tofu, then spread oil on a sheet pan and drizzle with tamari. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool. to fry, pour oil in a large saute pan and heat until shimmery, add tofu and stir until browned, then drizzle with tamari.

For radishes, soak the radishes and greens, then pat dry, pick out the best leaves and spin dry. Quarter the little radishes, and quarter then slice the watermelon radish.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan or wok, add the radishes and red pepper flakes and stir for a couple of minutes, til crisp but starting to soften. Stir the apple juice, honey or agave and tamari in a cup, then stir into the hot pan. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir until the vegetables are glazed and the liquids are almost evaporated. Add the greens and stir for a minute. Stir in the tofu.

Serve over rice, topped with almonds.