Waste not want not – eat your greens!

I never saw my mother throw away the fresh green tops of vegetables like turnips, kohlrabi, carrots. Even the tender leafy parts of the cauliflower were saved up to be cooked. Sometimes they were sauteed on their own, sometimes mixed with other vegetables in a stir-fry. But sometimes they were added to red lentils and cooked in the same pot. The combination makes a tasty and comforting, not to mention healthy dish. Out here, I was initially shocked to see the large plastic bins kept next to the fresh produce section so that people would throw away the tops of vegetables that they wanted to buy. There are days when I am severely tempted to stuff a few bags with the fresh green kohlrabi leaves and stalks that overflow out of the bin. But then I think of the confused cashier and the inevitable phone call to the manager,

“Say boss, there is a woman that wants our garbage. Should we charge her for it or should we even let her take any?”

Maybe I am not brave enough, but I don’t want to hold up the checkout-line while the cashier and the manager figure out how to deal with this crazy woman. So I just buy my own vegetables with greens attached. When I come back home, I separate the green stalks and leaves from the vegetable, because otherwise the leaves wilt faster.

So the other day, I finally made use of the kohlrabi greens hanging around in my crisper. The recipe is so simple and in fact is the same recipe as the red lentils with black caraway in this post.

Recipe: Red lentils with greens

Serves 2


1 cup red lentils
2-3 cups greens of your choice, chopped with stalks
1/2 tsp black caraway/nigella seeds
1 dried red chilli (optional)
1 tsp salt
4 cups water
1 tsp oil

Process: In a large pot, heat the oil and add the dried red chilli and the seeds. When the chilli is brown, add the water, lentils, greens and salt. Remove the red chilli if you don’t like spicy food or there are kids. Stir well and bring to a boil on medium heat. Cook with occasional stirring until lentils are almost falling apart. Check season and consistency (make it thick or soupy as per your taste) and serve with lemon wedges and a grain of your choice.


3 thoughts on “Waste not want not – eat your greens!

  1. pamela

    You could tell a white lie, “I want these greens for my pet parrot.” Or “I want these greens for my composer.” Here in Japan, many people say you should eat the green tops of giant radishes, turnips etc. but many don’t. They are all delish!!

    Then again, by asking for the tossed greens you could start a trend! Go for it girl!! I am sure the store would be happy to give them to you with little fuss. It would make less trash for them to have to get rid of.

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