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Finding animal brains, limbs and tongues on menus has become a fairly normal occurrence in Washington. Dupont’s Eola offers a special tasting menu of offal and Bar Pilar fries pig ears into crispy strips. Nose-to-tail dining has switched from adventure eating to a moral crusade, allowing thoughtful omnivores to rationalize the killing of an animal by eating every possible inch.

The same rationale of reducing waste can also be applied to vegetables and fruits: stem-to-root cooking. The New York Times provides plenty of unique ways to create edible uses for items, such as peach leaves (steeped for an aperitif), melon rinds (for crunchy cucumber-like garnish) and corn cobs (for stock).

Logan Cox‘s contribution to the full usage veg movement: crispy beet greens. Ripple‘s executive chef found a way to turn the magenta sphere’s stems into a crunch reminiscent of Rasika‘s famous Palak Chaat (crispy spinach).

The green was found in a squash agnolotti dish a few weeks ago, although now this meatless composition has since changed with cubanelle peppers filling in for the gourd and cranberry beans instead of beet greens. Cox promises, though, that the beet greens will be back on the menu. (Oh, the troubles of reporting on constantly rotating farm-to-table restaurants.)

Cox separates the leaves from the stems, then adds the greens to a cold pain with olive oil. The leaves crisp up in three minutes, just as the pasta is cooked to order. The kitchen keeps the sauce, a ricotta fundido, away from the stems “so there’s no liquid that can moisten the leaves,” he explains, “so it won’t be soggy.”

The effect enlivens the dish, contrasting the soft pasta rounds with a snappy green, and squarely lifting Ripple into the thrift-is-chic paradigm.

Photo by sashafatcat /Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license