Reading Mads Refslund’s inspired cookbook, Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty, I realize that I’ve been employing a simple strategy for using unexpected greens and stems for years: simply envision salad leaves as a green like spinach, perfect for quick cooking.
The wilty battered outer leaves of a head of leaf lettuce becomes a delight when wilted in butter until just tender to eat as a delicate escarole-like green.
I also like to cook it last minute in homemade broth. Then I have a simple soup which I finish, Italian style, with gratings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Perfection. Recently, when I was gifted too much of a soft head lettuce I dislike as a salad, I happily used it up this way, delighted by its transformation.
“Castoff” stems like radish are also great sauteed in garlicky olive oil( recipe here.) As are on-the-wane salads like mesclun, arugula and dandelion and the ribs or stems from chard, kale and watercress.