5 Vegetable Tops That You Should Never Throw Out

published Feb 10, 2015
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(Image credit: Shulevskyy Volodymyr)

Rather than looking at a bunch of root vegetables with their tops attached and thinking that they’re awkward to bring home and that the tops will fill up the compost bin, change your thinking! Look at them as a “Buy one, get one free” item: buy the root vegetable and you also get a whole bunch of nutritious greens for the same price.

Here are five vegetable tops that are completely edible and delicious in their own right. Don’t pass them up!

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

1. Carrot Tops

These beautiful bright-green tops not only help keep the carrots fresh, but they’re downright tasty. Carrot tops are herbal, earthy greens that have a slight taste of carrots and are great to turn into pesto or sautéed as a side dish.

More on Carrot Tops

2. Turnip Greens

Like the turnips themselves, these greens can have a bitterness best tempered by cooking with with strong, flavorful ingredients like bacon, onions, stock, or even a little bit of vinegar.

More on Turnip Greens

  • Eating Well: Tips for Cooking Bitter Greens

3. Radish Tops

The delicate tops of radishes pack a surprising pungent kick of flavor that’s a bit reminiscent of strong, peppery arugula. And just like arugula, you can eat them raw in a salad or gently wilt them into pasta or other cooked dishes.

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(Image credit: Gita Kulinitch Studio)

4. Beet Greens

Beets are such a great deal when you buy them bunched: you get sweet beets and a whole big bunch of greens all in one! Beet greens have a texture and flavor very similar to Swiss chard, and that’s the best way to think of them. Use them in a stir-fry, braise the greens, or even very thinly slice them raw for a salad!

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Beet Green Recipes

5. Celery Root Tops

If you’re lucky enough to find celery root with the tops still attached, get them! Although it’s usually grown for its root, celery root tops are not to be tossed aside — the stalks and leaves are stronger in flavor then regular celery but still delicious. Use them anywhere you would celery, even in soups and stocks!

More on Celery Root

  • Farmers’ Market Report: Celery Root

What are some other favorite vegetable tops that you like to eat?