Even though you eat vegetables at every meal, there’s still some left in your crisper at the end of the week. Instead of letting them go bad, try dehydrating them. “You can dry any type of vegetable at low heat in your oven to preserve it and intensify the flavor,” says Taylor Thornhill, chef de cuisine at Bateau in Seattle. In his restaurant, he’s dried potato skins, kale stems, and limes in the oven to breathe new life into on-the-brink ingredients. Then use them in one of the following ways.
1. Make your own veggie salts. This ingredient is making appearances at some of the hottest restaurants, such as Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York. A combination of dried vegetables and salt, it dials up the flavor of dishes while cutting the sodium in half. Root veggies, such as carrots and beets, work best. To make the seasoning, grate them and combine with the same amount of salt in a plastic sealable bag. Refrigerate for two days. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting, spread the vegetable-salt mixture on a tray lined with parchment paper, and bake for several hours, until dry. Blend in food processor until it forms a powder.
2. Snack on them. When dehydrated, vegetables are portable and crunchy. They’re an easy way to add nutrients to your between-meal bites. For the most energy, pair a non-starchy vegetable, such broccoli or green beans, with carbs, protein, and a healthy fat, suggests celebrity nutritionist Ashley Koff, RD.
3. Turn them into a powder. Add those dehydrated vegetables to a food processor, and blend them into a powder. Use it to add flavor and antioxidants to many recipes, such as smoothies, soups, dressings, and casseroles. Robbie Wilson, the chef at Bird Dog in Palo Alto, California, recommends smoked seaweed powder. To make it, grill kelp over wood for 45 minutes. Then transfer to a low oven until it’s dehydrated, and grind it. Sprinkle it on fish, meat, and vegetables, or stir it into a vinaigrette.