Eating Nose to Tail

A few months ago I read that kohlrabi is the offal of vegetables.  That concept seemed at bit odd to me initially, but after mulling it over I guess I can see what they're saying.  When initially confronted with a bulb of kohlrabi many people are initially confused.  Have no idea what to do with it.  Or simply steer clear of this funny little veg all together.  Not far from the reaction that many people have to most of the offal or off-cut world.
Whenever I slice up kohlrabi I always think of broccoli stems.  The slightly thicken skin with a tender, vegetal center.  Whether or not you peel it depends on the bulb you're working with, but generally speaking if you slice it nice a thin you can keep the skin on with good results.
Once you've gotten this far, all that's left is a few sliced scallions, some lime juice, fish sauce and a bit of salt and you've got a simple fresh summer salad.
Kohlrabi salad with scallions, lime and fish sauce.
If you think of offal and odd-bits as misunderstood yet delicious - and with a little patience and technique that misunderstanding can become enthusiasm, and dare I say, adoration, than I suppose kohlrabi might be the offal of vegetables.
Next month I'm teaching a nose to tail seminar at Newbury College.  A friend of mine is teaching a semester long Ethical Eating class and has asked the amazing Jamie Bissonette to teach the first nose to tail section, and me to teach the second.  It's awesome, I'm so excited.

One of the things I want to touch on is what the broad philosophy of eating nose to tail is - essentially "using virtually the entirety of any plant or animal" (as always, Fergus Henderson said it best).  My animal recipes are pretty solid, but I felt like I needed to round out my plant section.

The soup portion of this recipe is curried carrot and coconut soup, and the carrot top oil adds a slight grassy flavour to an otherwise sweet soup.

This recipe is vegan.  I've been trying eat vegan during the daylight hours, but since I've gone back to my day job its been incredibly hard.  Still working it out.

Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Oil

Serves 2
Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of carrots with tops, carrots chopped into 1 inch pieces, tops reserved
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • red pepper flakes
Heat olive oil in bottom of stock pot over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add chopped onion and sweat until just beginning to colour, about 10 minutes.  Add carrot and sweat until just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes.  Add ginger, curry powder and cumin and cook until spices being to smell toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Pick tender leaves off of carrot tops, you should have about 1/2 cup.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch carrot top leaves for 10 seconds, drain and cool immediately in ice bath or under cold running water.

Dry leaves well using paper towel, coarsely chop and mix with 1/3 cup vegetable oil and pinch of salt.  Using an immersion blender or standing blender puree leaves into oil.  Let sit.

Once carrots are tender season puree with either a immersion blender or standing blender.  Place pureed soup back into pot and add 1 cup coconut milk and to taste with salt and pepper.  Add some red pepper flakes too, a little spice is really nice in this soup.

Serve this soup drizzled with carrot top oil, and a few toasted almonds.
Excited to spend some time in a classroom again - and even more excited to see a bunch of eating nose to tail recipes being made at the same time.
Beets are one of those vegetables that has taken me some time to learn to love.  They've got a half sweet, half earthy taste that I just could not wrap my mind around. 

They are however a great veggie for a person on a budget because you can eat all of it.  When buying beets look for the bunch with nice big perky tops.

First separate the bulbs from the leaves.  Scrub off the bulbs and wrap them in foil.  Then roast them in a 375 degree oven until they're knife tender.
Hot beets, out of the oven.
The tricky thing about beets is peeling them.  Which is totally necessary because the skins are tough and don't add anything to the beet experience.  BEETS WILL STAIN EVERYTHING THEY TOUCH.  Seriously.  Don't screw around.
I hold the beets in a paper towel while they're still warm and peel of the exterior skin.  It's definitely easier to do this while the beets are still oven-hot.

The great thing about beets is that they're like little bright red sponges that will soak up any flavor you put on them.  As luck would have it I had just finished a jar of cornichons, so I used the leftover, already seasoned, pickling liquid from the jar and added s few chili's and submerged my sliced my beets in the concoction.
Pickled beets.
My favorite thing to do with beets (outside of risotto, which is awesome, but I don't have the time or energy right now) is beet and goat cheese crostini's.  Really simple and delicious and the perfect thing to munch on while you figure out what's for dinner.
Beet and goat cheese crostini with dried oregano.
Beet tops are a kinda like a heartier swiss chard, I generally treat them the same way just cook them longer.  Word to the wise: wash your beet greens really well, they can be a tad gritty otherwise.

Chop half an onion and as much garlic as you're comfortable with and cook until tender.  A trick I like to use is to chop the stalk of the beet green and cook that for a few minutes before adding the leafier bits.
Cook until they're tender and add a quick drop of cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Beet greens make a nice side dish when you're in the mood for a meat and two veg kinda evening.
Another great veggie that easily makes two very different dishes.  Speaking as a person who learned to love this veg, it's been worth the added effort to overcome my initial beet anxiety. 
Clean radishes.
Full credit for this is due to Fergus Henderson and his book The Whole Beast I had never eaten radishes like this, much less eaten their tops before I read his book.  Thanks Mr. Henderson!

First go to your farmers market and buy a bunch of radishes with the tops still attached.  Next, clean your bunch of radishes well with cold running water.  Then simply separate the radish bulbs from the leafy tops.  These are going to make two separate snacks.

The first dish is simple.  Radishes with fresh butter.  Clean the radishes and dry them well with a towel.  Then split them in half (or not) and put a nice dob of room temperature sweet butter on the radish.  If you'd like now is the time to sprinkle with your buttered radish with your best coarse sea salt.
I'm such a product of my Omi, I can't resist a nice blob of beautiful butter without a big piece of baguette.  This plate led me fairly quickly to sliced radishes on buttered bread with salt.  My new favorite snack.
That's snack one, snack two is a radish top salad.  Simply replace your regular greens with the radish tops.  I like to serve this salad with a cider vinegar and mustard vinaigrette with some bits of diced onion.  The radish greens are sharp, and have a unique flavor and texture to boot.  My partner Ross now prefers radish tops to other salad greens.
Keeping the radish bulb end of the green together is an aesthetic choice on my part.  Ross prefers it when I break them up more, but I like the radishiness of the bulb intact.  The choice is up to you.

Of the three vegetables I'm featuring this in the only one you can eat entirely raw.  While the summer season is still here go and get a bunch of radishes, especially while they've still got nice leafy tops.
In the spirit of embracing what's left of summer the next few posts will be about vegetables from my local farmers market.

For the last few months I've been concentrating on the meat aspects of eating nose to tail, but the practice of not wasting anything edible can easily and yummily be applied to a wide variety of vegetables as well.  I've tried to keep this project about how delicious nose to tail eating can be, but minimizing waste when it comes to the food you consume is a great way eat in a responsible (and still tasty) way.

This week I will be focusing on root vegetables.  More specifically beets, radishes and turnips.  I will be eating all of the vegetable from root to leaf, and usually get two remarkably different dishes out of each veggie. 
Fresh from the market.
I'm looking forward to the next few veggie posts, but for those of you here for the meat things will be heading back in that direction shortly.