Yuka Nagashima, Food Shift’s Executive Director, uses her justice, equity, diversity and inclusion lens both in and out of the kitchen, to find value in what is typically overlooked. She embodies the spirit of mottainai, a Japanese sentiment that’s loosely translated as “why waste what is valuable?”, repurposing and maximizing every ingredient, and is creative and unafraid of experimenting. Yuka’s templates honor the humble carrot, using the whole vegetable, from root to top.
“My mom, like other Japanese mothers, has never said ‘I love you’ to me: instead, her love and affection was expressed by waking early and packing an intricately arranged, colorful, nutritious, pleasing to the eye lunchbox (obento). I was always so proud to open it up and discover the beautiful variety and appreciate the care in its preparation. For me, every meal at Food Shift calls back that same pride and dignity. Food can uplift and nourish us, beyond just providing sustenance. Love is what we are sharing at Food Shift, both the opportunity to care for each other and the community, and to have gratitude for the food and the people who prepared it, from the miracle of nature’s seeds, to the farmers, chefs and people you’re sharing it with. I know that at The Food Shift Kitchen, food is created with such intention and these recipes capture the essence of that appreciation.”
‘Carrot Top’ Chimichurri
Chimichurri is an uncooked herb sauce used in some South American countries’ cooking and gives fresh, bright notes to any dish. Chimichurri is traditionally served as a marinade or condiment for grilled meats or fish, but is also nice drizzled over roasted vegetables, tossed with pasta or legumes, mixed with mayonnaise as a tangy sandwich spread or used instead of a salad dressing.
- 1/2 cup carrot fronds (from approximately 1 bunch of carrots), washed, drained and dried
- 2 cups of finely chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, oregano, mint OR a combination of these herbs (about 2 cups total), washed, drained and dried
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¾ to 1 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp vinegar (red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar are preferable) OR lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Optional: pinch red pepper flakes
Finely chop carrot fronds and choice of herbs and add with garlic to a small bowl.
Stir in ¼ cup olive oil and vinegar. Add more olive oil, if necessary, to create a sauce consistency. Stir in salt, pepper and optional red pepper flakes. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Let sit for 15 minutes before serving. The chimichurri can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks. If chilled, return to room temperature before serving. The chimichurri can also be frozen, either in an airtight container or in ice cube trays so that there are small amounts to add when needed to whatever you may be cooking.
NOTE: The herbs can be finely chopped by hand or with a food processor.
Do not peel the carrots! Root vegetables are often peeled to remove the sometimes dirty skins, but that is where a lot of the nutrients are held. Instead, scrub away any dirt under water before chopping. Be sure to cut the carrots very thinly, so they have the opportunity to soak up the pickling liquid. (makes enough for a 16 oz jar)
½ lb carrots (approximately 2 large carrots or 4 small carrots), fronds removed* and carrots cut into ⅛ ” thick coins
½ cup vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar work well)
1 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
½ Tbsp sea salt
Optional: spices listed below
Pack carrots into a glass jar with a lid. If you’re adding the optional spices or herbs, place them in the bottom of the jar, then put the carrots on top.
In a small pot, add vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 3 minutes.
Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the carrots in the jar. The carrots should be completely submerged. If you need extra liquid, top off with a little more hot water. Let cool.
Tightly seal the jar and refrigerate. Wait a few hours before enjoying your pickles. They will keep in the fridge for about a month or longer.
OPTIONAL SPICES: Try this basic pickle recipe with spices or other ingredients that you have in your pantry or refrigerator. If you are using any of the ingredients below, pack them in the bottom of your jar before adding the vegetables. Here are some ideas:
Mustard seeds, fresh ginger slices, black peppercorns, peeled garlic cloves, red pepper flakes or pickling spice mix
Sprigs of fresh herbs, such as dill or cilantro
You can also use this recipe to pickle other vegetables like cauliflower florets, sliced jalapenos, radishes, green beans or thinly sliced onions or shallots. Leftover pickling liquid can be reused to make more pickles, just boil again and pour over your next batch of vegetables.
Add your pickles to salads, sandwiches or tacos to add a tangy crunch!
Maximizing Your Food
Using these recipe templates, you can create more than one dish with a bunch of carrots with fronds attached. While most of us are familiar with carrots, many people don’t realize that the green, leafy fronds are also edible. The carrot tops are part of the parsley family and have even more Vitamin C than the orange part. If your carrots do come with fronds still intact, it is best to cut them off from the carrot and rinse them right away, so both parts will last longer.
Carrot fronds can get quite dirty. To remove any sand/soil soak in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. Dry them with a kitchen towel before using in your recipes. Save that rinse water for your flowers or potted plants—saving water is as important as avoiding food waste. Use only the tender leaves. Remove the thicker stems, which can be tough and too chewy, and reserve them for vegetable stock. Thick stems from herbs can also be put in your stock bag.
Carrot fronds can be quickly sauteed and shrink down similar to spinach. You can also add other greens to the skillet for a heartier side dish. Use these cooked fronds in place of herbs as a garnish for soups or mix into grains or dips.
More stories, recipes, cooking tips, and videos from Food Shift:
- Danny's Mushroom Bacon
- Vincent's Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Food Shift Kitchen Guide
- Affordable Alternatives
- Sheet Pan Meal (Video)
- Eating Root To Leaf (Video)
Food is often rooted in story. In this monthly blog series, Food Shift, one of our Chef Partners, is amplifying the voices of their culinary training graduates and their community by sharing their stories and adaptable recipes. Stay tuned for more installments.
Yuka's Portrait Artwork By: Sophia Zaleski
Learn more about Food Shift and their programs to rescue surplus food that would otherwise waste away in landfills and utilize it to fuel their social enterprise kitchen.