Here are my tried and true ways to be successful, cooking without recipes.
Have a variety of foods on hand, which can be done with different parts of the plant. These foods have different functions for the plants, so using these different parts will inherently give you a variety of flavors, nutrition, colors, textures. …and cook times.
Roots: onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc
Stalks, stems and such: celery, leeks, fennel, bok choy, and includes cabbage, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc (for me, this category is anything that grows on the stalk and stems, in the area just above the soil)
Leaves: herbs, kale, spinach, chard, etc
Seeds: lentils, quinoa, beans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc
Condiments: olives, capers, hearts of palm, hot sauce, mustard, honey, etc (anything in a jar or can)
The Roots, Stalks and Leaves can be main characters of a dish. But also each of’m can be supporting actors based on their ratio in a dish.
The condiments are always supporting actors, or a garnish.
Here is a visual aid of all vegetables and their categories…
…scroll down and you’ll see:
bulbs, tubers, roots, stalks, leaves, fruit veggies and more.
Examples of dishes using different parts of a plant:
My ragu has onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and sometimes spinach. The onions are from the ROOTS category. The bells and mushrooms are from the STALKS category. The spinach is my LEAVES.
A salad often has carrots, celery, lettuce, herbs and some type of seed or nut; and its dressing could have mustard and honey. The carrots = ROOT; celery = STALK; the lettuce and herbs = LEAVES; and you have SEEDS/nuts; and the mustard and honey = CONDIMENTS
A pan of roasted veggies often have a mix of just roots: carrots, onions, potatoes; and sometimes has bell peppers (Stalks)
My Tom Kha soup has roots (onions, carrots, ginger, galangal); and stalks (lemongrass, hearts of palm, mushrooms, bell peppers); and leaves (cilantro, kefir lime leaves).
Watch for more tips!