Cherishing What We Have and Wasting Less
Around the world, feasts of gratitude for a good harvest are among the oldest traditions, marked by a rest from working the fields and plentiful meals. An abundance of food is at the center of our Thanksgiving celebrations as well, yet few of us have a deep connection to the land, nor a sense of all that goes into producing our food.
Cookbook author Tara Duggan is reminded of that relationship each Thanksgiving when the family gathers at her parents’ homestead in Mendocino. “Being off grid with limited electricity and water, you really value what you grow and prepare, knowing how many precious resources have gone into it,” Tara explains. It was in part that appreciation that inspired her book Root-to-Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable. The recipes integrate leaves, roots, peels, and other plant parts we might routinely compost. Tara lists the benefits: “You’ll end up with a lot less waste, more color, more nutrition, and a whole new depth of flavor.”
Instead of a green bean casserole, the Duggans’ Thanksgiving meal includes a crunchy kale salad—stalks included, of course. “Unlike green beans, kale is in season this time of year,” Tara points out. “And a salad helps cut through the richness of the other dishes.”
After all the cooking, Tara’s family looks forward to the leftovers that make for easy meal prep through the following days. A favorite is Tara’s Thanksgiving version of shepherd’s pie, great for using up sweet potatoes, gravy, and vegetables.
More Root-to-Stalk cooking: Throughout the winter season, Edible East Bay’s e-newsletter will feature more recipes that use the whole vegetable. Plus: Check Edible East Bay’s Facebook page for Tara’s Shepherd Pie recipe right after Thanksgiving! Sign up for the newsletter or search the website blog for the series.
Kale & Farro Salad with Avocado
For the dressing
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Leaves from ½ bunch tarragon
Leaves from ½ bunch Italian parsley
1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup Moscatel, Champagne, or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For the salad
⅔ cup farro
1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 10 ounces)
1 or 2 avocados, cut into large dice
2 spring carrots, sliced into thin rounds
Combine dressing ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil, add the farro, and cook until tender, 16 to 18 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Trim the ends of the kale stems, then cut the leaves from the stems. Finely slice the stems and tear the kale leaves into small bite-size pieces. Place both stems and leaves in a large salad bowl. Add the avocados, carrots, and farro. Add the dressing and toss.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve.