Your Go-To Guide to What You Can Eat By Crop

We’re going to play a game. When I say a vegetable, think about what you’d make with it.

Ready? Okay.


If you immediately thought about a nicely sautéed cauliflower dish, roasted cauliflower, or perhaps cauliflower mash, I’m totally with you. Just the sound of those are making my stomach growl. A vegetable like cauliflower is especially fun to cook with because its texture varies so dramatically depending on how it’s prepared. As a chef, that means so many more options to play with!

But, what if I told you that the fun doesn’t stop with the part of the cauliflower plant that we’re so used to eating (the floret). What if I told you that you can also make a tasty dish out of the leaves (here, here, and here) and even the stalk (here and here)?

Roasted cauliflower leaves. Photo by One Green Planet

Okay, now, what about celery?

You’re probably thinking about dipping celery stalks into some hummus or sauce, or maybe a homemade chicken noodle soup. Both great, but there’s even more. Celery leaves, too, are both edible and flavorful. You can use the leaves to make seasoning salt, pesto, salad, and even soup.

Seasoning salt made with celery. Photo by Baking Nana

Now it’s getting fun.

The truth is that we are so used to eating certain parts of a crop. But, the other parts of the plant are often edible, and when prepared correctly, quite delicious too. This is handy knowledge for the gardeners and non-gardeners out there. If you tend to your own backyard veggie garden, why not get more from your harvest? If you prefer the supermarket, there are still times when you’ll come home with produce such as beets, radishes, and carrots with leaves still on them.

Your inclination might be to toss these often unused parts of the plant. I’m here to suggest that you don’t. As a society, we throw away so much food because we are so accustomed to our diet as it is. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Radish leaf pesto. Photo by Chocolate and Zucchini

Cooking experiments are fun. In that way, minimizing waste can be fun, delicious, and great for the environment. I for one am excited to whip up some new recipes with the unused (but delicious!) parts of plants 🙂

Here are the parts of common vegetables that you can eat:

Crop Fruit Leaves Stalk Flowers Seed Pods Root Other
Cauliflower X X X X
Broccoli X X X X
Squash & Zucchini X X X X X
Bell pepper X Don’t eat!
Tomato X Don’t eat!
Carrots X X
Pumpkin X X
Sweet potato X X
Eggplant X
Okra X X
Radishes X X
Kohlrabi X X
Beets X X
Turnips X X
Snap beans X X X X
Celery X X X
Corn X X Young leaves and ears, tassel (unfurled)
Cucumber X X Stem tips, young leaves
Onions X X X
Parsley X X
Watermelon X Rind
Garlic X X Garlic sprout, scrapes

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