Celebrate Earth Week with 3 Upcycled Recipes

Upcycling, or using materials that might otherwise be discarded to create something of higher value than the original product, has been happening in the fashion industry for a long time. Now, food is getting its turn. Check out the following recipes from Bon Appétit chefs on how to salvage citrus peels or make ugly produce the star of your plate.

5+ Ways with Citrus Peels

SOURCE: Executive Chef/Manager Paul Lieggi, Mt. Angel Abbey

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Citrus Extract: If you have a juicer, here’s how to make fresh, concentrated, alcohol-free citrus “extract.” First: Wash, peel, and juice your oranges (or any citrus). Enjoy this juice as a healthy, natural beverage. Next: Before cleaning and putting away your juicer, juice all your citrus peels separately. This extract, which can be enjoyed fresh or frozen, is pure and natural and can be used for so many things it may blow your mind. Here are just a few ideas: Baking, frostings, added to an apple “bath” (to prevent browning), vinaigrettes, marinades, glazes, and citrus salts (just grind peels and salt in a spice grinder). Peels from 20 oranges yield ~ 3 ounces of extract.

Citrus Gummies: Cut peels to your desired shapes and sizes and place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add sugar (raw sugar is great) to cover. Then, cover with enough water just until it looks like wet sand. Turn heat on medium-high and stir until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low and simmer until peelings are translucent. Pour off the sugar sugar-syrup through a strainer — save the syrup for baking or another use (drinks!) and place the peels on a cooling rack.

Candied Peels: Toss the gummies in sugar, place back on the cooling rack, and bake in a warm (180°F-200°F) oven until dry (30-45 minutes). Use for garnishing, dipping in chocolate, etc.

Citrus-Infused Seafood or Poultry: If you don’t want to take the time to make candy, take the fresh peels and smother you favorite seafood filet or poultry just before making them in the oven for a sweet citrus flavor essence.

Non-Culinary Uses: What’s that? You don’t eat seafood or poultry? Dry your peels out with a heat source — you can even use the sun! After they are completely dry, grind them in your food processor and use the ground meal as a snail/slug deterrent in the garden, or spread it around your car’s floor before vacuuming it out.

Chilled Broccoli Salad

SOURCE: Executive Chef Jon Cambra, Roger Williams University

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Here’s a great way to use the stems from those imperfectly delicious (“ugly”) broccoli heads! (Use the florets as you normally would, in a main or a vegetable side.) 

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


  • 4 broccoli stems, washed, peeled and sliced into thin, quarter-size rings
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced, and sautéed in a bit of olive oil until golden
  • 1 shallot, julienned
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed

For the vinaigrette: Whisk cider vinegar, apple cider, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve: Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette, adjusting seasoning, if desired.

Roasted Carrot and Carrot Greens Salad

SOURCE: Executive Chef Patrick Elroy, Washington University in St. Louis

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Makes 9 to 10 servings.

  • 3 pounds imperfectly delicious (“ugly”) carrots
  • 6 ounces imperfectly delicious (“ugly”) carrot tops (tender greens — not stalks — from about 1 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup local maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 orange (zest half the orange, squeeze the juice, and reserve both separately)
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup dandelion greens (lightly packed), roughly chopped (use flowers if present)*
  • 1-1/3 cups sorrel greens (lightly packed), roughly chopped
  • 1-1/3 cups arugula (lightly packed)
  • 3 ounces local feta cheese
  • 3 ounces local goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet
  • 1/2 cup smoked almonds, crushed

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Trim and scrub the carrots. Roughly chop the tender parts of the carrot greens. Soak the greens in a large bowl of cold, salted water to remove any dirt or sand. Lift out, drain, and repeat in fresh cold, salted water until tops are very clean. Drain well and pat dry.

Cut the carrots (no need to peel them!) into rustic, one-inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with half the olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to sheet pans (divide among multiple pans, if necessary) and spread in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes.

Return the carrots to the mixing bowl. Add the cumin seeds and maple syrup. Toss well and return to the sheet pans. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the edges are caramelized and the carrots are just tender. (Don’t let them burn!) Cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, orange juice, zest, and garlic. Whisk in the remaining olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette. Place all the greens, including the carrot tops, in a large bowl and add the carrots, cranberries, both cheeses, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and the vinaigrette. Adjust the seasoning and toss well. Serve.

*Substitute an equal amount of additional arugula for the dandelion greens, if desired.