I’ve tried to take to heart the philosophy of reducing waste, but sometimes I’m just not successful. But as I’ve been working my way through my pantry in anticipation of moving, I’ve been particularly conscious of using all the fresh food I buy, instead of either forgetting about it and letting it go to waste, or failing to use every part of a vegetable. I just finished reading The American Way of Eating (highly recommend it) and being reminded of the human labor behind every piece of produce I buy has helped motivate me to do better.

When I steamed the broccoli for my soup the other day, I had removed and saved the stems. I know broccoli stems are just as delicious as broccoli itself, but the florets were enough for the soup and I didn’t want to deal with the extra chopping at the time. So tonight, I was cooking the last of the pasta I have in the house, and I needed something to put on it! So I pulled out those broccoli stems, and went to town.

The only thing to keep in mind with broccoli stems is that you want to get rid of the absolute toughest parts, and peel as much of the stems as is convenient. If you don’t get every millimeter (usually they are quite craggy and troublesome), don’t fret. Give them a good once-over with the peeler and you’ll be set. Then cut them into chunks, and simmer in salted water until very tender.

In addition to lacking a proper camera, I currently lack a food processor, so I pulled out the trusty mortar and pestle, and my hand potato masher. In the mortar and pestle, I ground up as finely as I could some toasted walnuts (just a handful). In a bowl, I grated one garlic clove, and tossed in the drained broccoli stems. I added a glug of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and some salt. And then I mashed those things to hell! Stir in the walnuts, toss with pasta, and voila — a dairy-free pesto using something most people just throw in the garbage. And truth be told, I did not even miss the parmesan!