Serving Up Scraps

Once you try these leftover-inspired recipes, your food scraps will become your new favorite ingredient.

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by Getty Images/ottoblotto

Holistic living can sometimes mean paying attention to the entire vegetable when cooking, or in other words, using what typically becomes kitchen scraps to create a side dish, snack, or salad. It can also mean using farmers market seconds (“Preserve Farmers Market Seconds,” March/April 2019 issue) and less-than-perfect produce reduced for quick sale at your grocery store. Consumers didn’t always have the luxury of produce shipped long distances or weekly trips to the store. It seems that in the recent past, food was not wasted as readily as it is today.

According to a 2017 report conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans throw away 40 percent of the food produced in the United States each year. A great deal of this food is wasted for frivolous reasons: the produce is cosmetically unappealing; a product is approaching its “sell by” date; or a restaurant serves too-large portions to patrons that either reject leftovers or never bother to eat them later.

Where others see useless scraps and leftovers, sustainability expert Lindsay-Jean Hard sees possibility. Cooking with your table scraps may not sound like the most glamorous way to plan a meal, but utilizing the leftovers in front of you reduces food waste, saves money, and — with the right recipes — is downright delicious.

— Jordan Moslowski

Dill Pickle Brine Potato Salad

potato salad in a white bowl with a spoon next to it and a glass…

I spent far too many years convinced that mayonnaise was gross, in part due to soggy, overdressed potato salad, and as a result, I was skeptical of potato salad, too. Luckily, I finally learned the error of my ways — on both accounts — and have made up for lost time with a newfound love of lightly dressed potato salads, like this one, which is an amalgamation of many beloved recipes.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


  • 3 pounds baby potatoes, large potatoes halved
  • 1/3 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle brine
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water for 8 to 15 minutes, depending on their size. The potatoes are ready when a knife slides in easily, but the very center is still a touch firm. If your potatoes are different sizes or varieties, check them often and pull them out individually to cool as soon as they’re ready.
  2. Drain and transfer the potatoes to a medium-sized bowl. Add the scallions, and then immediately drizzle the pickle brine over the potatoes. Let the potatoes cool slightly. As they cool, toss them in the bowl a couple of times to help distribute the pickle brine and encourage it to soak in.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, and dill, along with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Once the potatoes have cooled, toss them with the dressing and adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate salad overnight to let the flavors meld. It’ll keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

Watermelon Rind-Lime Granita with Basil Whipped Cream

watermelon flavored pink crushed ice in a glass bread pan with an ice cream scoop…

Watermelon rinds are often pickled, but I wanted to find a sweet use for them. Their refreshing wateriness naturally lends itself to granita, which I like paired with an herbal, just-barely-sweetened dollop of whipped cream.

To get puréed watermelon rind, simply peel off and discard the outer green rind of the watermelon, and put chunks of the white rind in a blender. It might need some nudging with a wooden spoon to get it going, but the white rind is juicy enough that it should easily blend. If your watermelon doesn’t produce the 4 cups of purée called for, simply halve or quarter the recipe. You’ll need at least 12 hours from start to finish, and you’ll want to check to make sure your baking dish fits into your freezer before you pour the liquid into it. If it doesn’t, it’s OK to use a smaller, deeper container, just know that the mixture will take longer to freeze. Depending on the color of your watermelon, and how much of the flesh is left clinging to the rind, your granita will turn out differently, ranging in color from green to yellow to pink.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.


  • 10 to 15 basil leaves
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 cups puréed watermelon rind
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste


  1. The night before you plan to make the granita, rip the basil leaves into halves or thirds, combine them with the heavy cream, and store the mixture in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. The following morning, strain out the basil leaves and return the infused cream to the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon rind purée, lime juice, and simple syrup.
  3. Pour the purée mixture into a 9-by-13-inch cake pan and place in the freezer until partially frozen, about 1 hour. Scrape with a fork to fluff up the mixture into icy shards. Return to the freezer and repeat the scrape and fluff process every 30 to 60 minutes until the mixture is fully frozen, about 4 hours total.
  4. Make the whipped cream shortly before you’re ready to serve the granita. Place the basil-infused cream and granulated sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Using a hand mixer on low speed, whip until the cream thickens enough not to splatter. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until it’s thickened to your liking. Taste and adjust the sweetness level as desired.
  5. Serve the granita in bowls with dollops of basil whipped cream on top.

Kale Stem Hummus

three bowls with hummus, a sour cream dip, and quinoa dip next to carrots, beets,…

Making the hummus from London chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook for the first time was a revelation. I never knew homemade hummus could be so smooth. The secret is cooking the soaked chickpeas for a short period with baking soda; this technique provides the foundation of every hummus I’ve made since. I prefer less tahini than they call for, but the one ingredient not to mess with is the dried chickpeas; this is one instance where using dried beans instead of canned makes a big difference.

Despite how tough and woody kale stems are, they blend in surprisingly well. Depending on the depth of color in your kale stems and how long you cook them, your hummus could stay a standard hummus-beige, have a green tint, or fall somewhere in between — any shade is OK and equally delicious.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Stems from 1 bunch kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ice water
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving


  1. The night before you plan to make the hummus, put the chickpeas in a large bowl, cover them with twice their volume of water, and leave to soak overnight at room temperature.
  2. The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them, along with the baking soda, in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes. Add water until the chickpeas are covered by a few inches, about 6 to 8 cups, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer until the chickpeas are very tender, about 45 to 60 minutes, checking on them occasionally to skim off any foam on the surface. Skim off any chickpea skins that float up, but you don’t need to remove the skins if they don’t come off; the baking soda will help the skins blend smoothly into the hummus.
  3. While the chickpeas are cooking, fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the kale stems and cook until they’re very tender, about 30 to 45 minutes, then drain them.
  4. Add the kale stems, garlic, and tahini to a food processor and process, scraping down the sides as necessary, until well-blended.
  5. Once the chickpeas are cooked, drain them and add them to the kale stem mixture in the food processor, along with the salt and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water, and process until the hummus is smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add up to 2 additional tablespoons of ice water, one at a time, and process again as necessary.
  6. To serve, spoon into a shallow bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. The hummus can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. After thawing frozen hummus, you might need to adjust the seasoning; taste, then add salt and lemon juice as necessary.

Note: Try this hummus with other scraps too, such as Swiss chard stalks or cauliflower cores. Follow the same cooking method as outlined in Step 3, boiling until very tender, 15 to 30 minutes.

Excerpted from Cooking From Scraps, © 2018 by Lindsay-Jean Hard. Reproduced by permission of Workman. All rights reserved.

Lindsay-Jean Hard received her Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. Her education and passion for sustainability went on to inform and inspire her work in the garden, home, and community. The seeds of this book were planted in her Food52 column of the same name. Today she works to share her passion for great food and great communities as a marketer at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. She lives, writes, loves, and creates in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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