Carrot green falafel

Well, I’m back in LA, and back in the kitchen. After a few weeks of great Indian, Malay, and Chinese food, I’ve been in the mood to play with an entirely different set of flavors. My most recent experiment was with falafel – and my one break with tradition was to use carrot greens rather than parsley. I only gave the ingredients a couple of quick pulses in the food processor, which made for a more interesting texture than you get with falafel mix – and of course the flavors were much fresher.

Carrot green falafel (serves 3)
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chickpeas (pre-soaked & cooked, or canned)
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ cup carrot greens
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • ¾ tsp cumin
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • Olive oil for cooking
Directions

Chop the red onion, greens, serrano pepper and garlic coarsely. Put the chopped ingredients in a food processor with the chickpeas, and give them a few quick pulses. You should end up with a coarse mixture, and be able to make out specks of green, beige and red.

Put the mixture in a bowl, and add the baking powder, flour, cumin and salt. Mix all the ingredients evenly using your hands (because it’s more fun), and form the resulting paste into (about) nine small patties.

Fill a deep skillet with about one eighth of an inch of oil, and place the skillet over medium heat. Toss a small speck of falafel mixture into the oil; when bubbles start to form around it, the oil is ready.

Fry the falafel patties for about two minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. I served mine with flat bread, tomatoes and tahini sauce (a quick mix of tahini paste, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, chopped carrot greens and garlic – everything to taste).

Fun facts
Carrot greens per serving 4 tsp
Carrot greens we could save from landfill if every one of the roughly 1.2 billion people in developed regions had one servicing of carrot green falafel about 24,000 cubic meters
Approximate volume of the great pyramid of Giza 2,500,000 cubic meters
The amount of time it would take to save that volume of carrot greens from landfill if everyone in developed nations ate carrot green falafel twice a month 4 years and 4 months
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Saag

Indian mealThere are few things I like more than a good Indian meal, and one of my favorite curries is saag. When you get it in North America, it’s usually made with spinach, but it can be made with any green or mix of greens – and it’s a great way to use edible greens that typically end up in the bin, like those of sweet potatoes, radishes, carrots, beets and broccoli.

I made a small batch with carrot greens the other night, which I served with roasted carrots and red peppers, tandoori chicken, watermelon rind chutney and turmeric rice – a meal just overflowing with complex spices and aromas.

Carrot green saag (two small servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 2½ oz onion, diced
  • 1 poblano chili, seeded and diced
  • 1½ tsp grated ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ⅛ tsp turmeric
  • 2½ oz carrot greens, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp yogurt (optional)
  • ⅛ tsp salt, or to taste
Directions
  • Sauté onions in oil over medium heat until they’re translucent.
  • Add in the chili, ginger, garlic, coriander and turmeric, and sauté until your kitchen smells good – about one minute.
  • Add in the carrot greens, and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  • Add enough water to cover the greens, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, and let simmer until carrot greens are tender – about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, let cool (so you don’t blow the lid off of your blender with steam), and blend until homogenous.
  • Return to heat, and warm to serving temperature.
  • Stir in yogurt and salt.
I served roasted vegetables on top of this batch, but you can also stir in cooked potatoes, chicken, chickpeas, paneer (an Indian cheese) – or just about anything else.
Fun facts
Edible greens rescued from landfill per serving 1.25 oz
Number of servings needed to save 1 pound of edible greens from landfill 12.8
Cost of 1 pound of edible greens which would usually be tossed $0.00
Cost of spinach at yummy.com as of 1 minute ago $3.99 for 5 oz
Amount you can save by replacing 1 pound of baby spinach with free edible greens (assuming you shop at yummy.com) $12.77
Net impact on landfill if everyone in the US eats 1 pound of greens that would usually be tossed 155,000 short ton reduction
Total cost of that 155,000 short tons of green goodness $0.00

Eating green

Last April, I bought some carrots.

I had just moved to the United States, and unlike the thick, woody carrots at our local market in Japan, these were small, organic, and topped with lush greens. They smelled earthy and fresh, and in the tradition of millions of grocery unpackers before me, I twisted the greens off to keep the carrots fresh longer. I was about to throw those greens away when a question stayed my hand:

Are carrot greens food?

Moving to California (a land of cheap, fresh food sold in massive quantities) had made Bonnie Lee and I keenly aware of how easy it would be to waste food here — something we were determined to avoid — and a quick search on the Internet told me that carrot greens are one of the many foods most people feed to the bin rather than to themselves. It’s a shame. Although they lack many of their bright orange roots’ charms, carrot greens have a distinctive bitterness that can add an unexpected accent to a meal, and which balances nicely with other strong flavours.

The first bunch of carrot greens I rescued ended up in some chicken soup stock — and that’s the way I use them most often. They add a layer of complexity to stock, and a healthy greenish tinge, though you still end up with solid waste when you use them that way.

My latest experiment with carrot greens was the Purée of the Whole Danged Carrot Soup (recipe below) that I made for lunch yesterday. I balanced the bitterness of the carrot greens with a good dose of white pepper, and some cider vinegar and honey. I decided not to blend the soup completely, so that little specks of green and orange would still be visible. That gave the soup a bit of crunch and freshness that I liked, but I can see some folks being put off by the texture. For a smoother version, I would suggest throwing a couple of ounces of cooked potato into the mix, and blending the soup more throughly.

Carrot greens also make a good addition to salads, and there are a few recipes for carrot green pesto out there (though I’ve yet to try those). Feel free to share any carrot green recipes, or improvements to my recipe, in the comments.

Purée of the Whole Danged Carrot Soup (1 serving)

Ingredients

Carrot greens are food too

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 oz carrots (diced finely)
  • 3 oz onion (diced finely)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Greens from carrots used above (diced finely, except for 1 sprig to be used for garnish)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • ⅛ tsp salt (or to taste)

Directions

  • Sauté the garlic, onions and carrots in the olive oil over medium heat, until the onions are translucent.
  • Add in the chicken stock and carrot greens, and heat until carrots are tender.
  • Remove soup from heat, and purée using hand mixer or blender.
  • Add in the honey, vinegar, salt and pepper; stir well, and warm soup back up to serving temperature.
  • Plate and garnish with carrot greens.
Associated reduction in the 222 million tons of waste produced annually
Per serving about 1 oz (the weight of the greens, assuming you would have eaten the carrots anyway)
If you eat this once a week 3¼ pounds per year
If everyone in the US eats this meal once over 9,500 short tons
If everyone in the US eats this meal once a week close to 500,000 short tons per year