Frugal is Fashionable

One segment of last weeks Food Network Star really caught my eye. They asked contestants in this reality competition show to create dishes that would fit into the current “Frugal is Fashionable” trend. You know we’ve been waiting for this trend to keep catching on and become more popular, so were excited to see what dishes they would come up with. Although they didn’t come up with a super “wow” moment there was one idea that caught everyone’s attention and that we had not previously thought of either. Yaku, who unfortunately went home at the end of the show, had a great idea that fit perfectly under this current food trend. His idea was to make broccoli chips from the stems of broccoli.

Here’s directions for how to make broccoli chips along with a few other ideas, including the ones used by his other team members in this episode.

broccoli chips

Frugal is Fashionable

How to Make Broccoli Chips

broccoli chips

People normally just cut the broccoli florets and throw the stems away. Since the stems are totally edible, just slightly tougher than the florets, it’s clever to disguise them somehow so that they are not just automatically pushed aside when served.

Here’s how to make broccoli chips, similar to what Yaku made.

  1. Use a Mandoline to uniformly and thinly slice the stems of the broccoli – an angled cut works nicely. If the stem is thick and dark green, you will want to slice off the outer skin first. Sprinkle the slices with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper if desired.
  2. Deep fry the pieces in a layer of hot oil. We used Coconut oil for an extra-tasty treat.
  3. Drain on paper towels and serve broccoli chips on top of a main dish containing broccoli or serve the kids (& adults) broccoli chips before dinner as an appetizer. They aren’t the most beautiful veggie, but they are quite tasty. They can also be made in the oven with just a spray of oil.
  4. broccoli chips

Frugal is Fashionable

Uses for Vegetable Stalks

Broccoli stems are one of the more popularly used veggie stems, but most vegetable stems and herb stems can be used in many different ways. Here are a some suggestions to make use of yours.

  • Use stems to make soup. Yaku made beef and broccoli soup and placed the broccoli chips on top. They would also make a nice topping for knock off broccoli cheese soup.

  • Use a potato peeler to remove the outer skin from the broccoli stems and then shred the rest of the stem. Add your favorite dressing to make a healthful raw broccoli slaw.

  • Most stems and cores shred nicely and can be combined with other vegetables to make a slaw. Move over, plain ‘ol cole slaw!

  • Slice stems up and toss them into green salads or pasta salads for an unexpected crunchy treat. Some stems may need to be peeled first to eliminate a bitter taste, especially if eating raw.

  • Most stems are just as tasty as the parts that are typically eaten, but they are often a little harder or tougher. So, try steaming or boiling them briefly before sautéing them with a little olive oil and garlic.

  • Stems stir-fry well and can even be slipped into pasta dishes to add a little crunch and/or simmered into pasta sauce to add extra nutrients.

  • Stems can be boiled on their own to make vegetable stock. Vegetable stocks also freeze well for use at a later date.

  • Many things can be tossed into a food processor to make a sauce. One Food Network Star contestant used carrot tops and rainbow chard to whip up a pesto sauce.

  • Cauliflower stems can be caramelized in a pan along with the florets like another contestant did. No one will know the difference as long as you start cooking them slightly before adding in the florets.

  • Why buy parsley just to garnish a plate? No one ever eats it anyway. Instead, use carrot tops rather than throwing them away.

  • Throw stems into soups, sauces and stews to add flavor. They’re easy to remove later, if desired.

  • Stems can be chopped finely and added into dips like salsa, guacamole and/or hummus.

  • Stems can be tossed on top of main dishes or thrown into vegetable packages before placing them on the grill to add both aroma and taste.

  • When ground in a food processor, herb stems can then be sprinkled anywhere you would normally use dried herbs.

  • Herb stems can be added to oil or vinegar and left on the counter to sit for 2 days to 2 weeks, the flavors will infuse into the oil or vinegar.
  • Frugal is Fashionable

    Additional Info

    It’s not just stems that are finding their way onto plates, chefs are starting to use other parts of vegetables that were traditionally thrown away. For instance, broccoli leaves are edible and many even consider them to be the “next super green“. Broccoli leaves actually contain more beta-carotene than the other parts of the plant and they contain phytonutrients that aren’t even found in the stems or the florets.

    We like this mandoline that catches all of your fresh cut veggies:

    Don’t forget that using kitchen tools for purposes other than they were originally intended is also both frugal and fashionable. See our post on new uses for kitchen tools.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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