The growing and harvest seasons are always my favorite time of year because it seems that everyone is talking about food as much as I normally do. Everything is fresh and green, which gets people excited about cooking again.

With a bountiful summer crop, my friends and family (and anyone who will listen) hear me parrot the sage wisdom of my grandmother: Don’t throw that away! You can use it!

Hardly anything food-related goes into our trash can. What can’t be eaten right now, can be used for a soup stock, juiced, dried, composted or used in some fashion. If you’re throwing it away, you’re not trying hard enough.

So as the first gems of this year are harvested here are a few ways to make the most of those hardy, early season vegetables. (Mine came from an organic farm in Aleknagik, where one family is growing food to nourish their community.)

How to use radish graphic

You can use both the tops and bottoms of the radish. As part of the mustard family, the greens have a spiciness and would work great as a stand-in for peppery arugula. My favorite way to repurpose a good leafy radish green is to make pesto.

Normally, I would lean toward walnuts in a pesto, since I like their robust flavor. With radish greens, the two flavors were battling to be the star of the dish so I had to find another nut that let the greens unique taste shine through. The solution was a rather unexpected one: macadamia nuts.

The mellow flavor and texture led to a smooth consistency and well-balanced mix that worked well over a pasta with sauteed bell peppers and zucchini. It’s great as a cold pasta salad for a summer get-together.

For the root, I turn to another summertime craving — radish pickles. I like a bread and butter radish pickle that takes out the bite, giving you a sweet and tangy crunchy little round of fun. These are great in salads or as a burger topping.

Kale square

Lastly, I wanted to share the easiest way to make kale chips at home. You don’t need a food dehydrator since this recipe just has you stick them in an oven. Mix the leaves together in a bowl with some olive oil, add some spices and bake them until crispy. They’re a great healthy snack.

Bright, fresh and happy — everything I love about summer.

How are you using your farmer’s market finds or garden-grown veggies? KTVA welcomes you to share your recipes by sending them to and by using #myharvestAK on social media. Your recipe may be featured in an upcoming Harvesting Alaska.

Jessica Stugelmayer can be reached by emailFacebook and Twitter.