Three recipes using leftovers to reduce food waste in your kitchen

While world leaders face intense pressure to cut carbon emissions following the shocking ‘Code Red For Humanity’ climate change report, two women are waging their own war on global warming.

And it’s a war on food waste.

A staggering 6.6million tonnes of food ends up in the bin in UK households every year.

Globally, 931million tonnes of food goes to waste, with 61% of that coming from domestic households.

According to UN figures, unused produce accounts for 8-10% of global carbon emissions.

Eco-cooks Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards believe we can all reduce our carbon footprints – and save money – by buying less, wasting less and making more with what we have.

The friends, who co-founded ground-breaking food community Cornersmith in Sydney, have written a guide to running a sustainable kitchen packed with adaptable recipes and savvy hacks to transform tired, on-the-turn produce into tasty dishes.

‘It’s a guide for people juggling real life and trying to make better choices in their kitchens,’ says Alex.

‘A way we can feed our families efficiently, affordably, ethically and sustainably because how and what we eat really can and does make a difference.’

Alex and Jaimee have developed three leftover-loving recipes from their sustainable cookbook Use It All.

Read on below to learn to make a delicious nutty loaf cake, super simple green sauce, and Italian classic Panzanella, plus ten top tips on reducing food waste in your kitchen.

Use-it-all loaf

We love this because you can throw in any grated fruits or vegetables, nuts, seeds or choc chips and any spices you need to use up and it always works.

Avoid very over-ripe fruit as it will make the loaf too wet.

Eat for breakfast, pop it into lunchboxes or serve with a cuppa in the afternoon.

Makes one loaf

  • 150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground spice – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (110g) caster (superfine) or raw sugar
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) sunflower or good-quality vegetable oil
  • 300g (10½ oz) grated fruit or vegetables – apple, pear, carrot, pumpkin (squash), beetroot (beets) and zucchini (courgette)
  • 75g (2½ oz) of ‘pantry stays’ choc chips, dried fruits, nuts, seeds or a combination, plus extra to top

Method

Combinations we like:

Try any of the following combinations:

  • Pumpkin (squash), apple, ground ginger and pumpkin seeds
  • Beetroot (beet), pear, allspice and choc chip
  • Zucchini (courgette), apple and hazelnut.

The ultimate green sauce

This is a wonderful way to use up a bunch of forgotten greens. It takes 15 minutes to make and adds plenty of colour and a hit of iron to your plate. It’s great to have in the fridge for quick, nutritious meals.

Steam 1 bunch English spinach (stems and all) or ½ bunch silverbeet leaves (remove the stems) in a large saucepan, covered, over low heat. Once soft, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Transfer to a food processor with a clove of chopped garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon plain (all-purpose) flour and ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper.

Whiz until blended, then add a slurp of milk or cream and whiz again until smooth. If it doesn’t look smooth enough, add some more oil and whiz some more.

Taste, adjust seasoning and store in the fridge for 3–4 days. Makes about 200 ml (7 fl oz).

Then use for:

GREEN EGGS: Add 2 tablespoons green sauce to 2 eggs and whisk with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook in a saucepan with a knob of butter over a low heat until scrambled. Serve on toast.

GREEN PASTA: Combine 3 tablespoons green sauce with 2 tablespoons of cream, extra salt and pepper, lemon zest and chilli
flakes to make a simple pasta sauce.

GREEN TOAST: Mash a few tablespoons of green sauce with avocado, then spread on toast and top with crumbled feta and herbs.

GREEN MARINADE: Mix together equal parts natural or Greek-style yoghurt and green sauce with some extra minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon for a marinade for chicken thighs or fish.

Panzanella

Accompanied by a few glasses of wine on a hot night, this classic Italian salad is filling enough to be a meal on its own.

The stale bread soaks up the dressing so that every mouthful is full of flavour.

Serves 4–6

  • 8 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to serve
  • 2 capsicums (peppers), halved
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 200–300g (7–10½ oz) stale bread torn into 5cm (2inch) pieces (focaccia, sourdough or a crusty white Italian loaf work best)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves picked and torn

Method

Ten savvy tips from Alex and Jaimee to reduce food waste in the kitchen

1. Bare necessities

Neither of us has the kind of aspirational pantry you see on social media. Our approach to the pantry is to keep it minimally stocked so you can see exactly what you have to use up, save space, avoid wastage and
save money.

2. Ice idea

If you find yourself left with a small amount of fresh herbs to use up, don’t bin them!

Chop finely, pop into an ice-cube tray, top with olive oil and freeze. Defrost and use in a salad dressing or add a cube to a hot pan before sautéing fish or potatoes.

3. Cheers

Citrus peels can be frozen in an airtight container or jar and then used in gin and tonics or negronis, or added to soups and stews that call for citrus zest.

4. Flex appeal

Use whatever you have in the cupboard or fridge. Starchy vegetables are often cooked in the same way and can, therefore, be swapped in and out.

You can usually substitute one member of the allium family (garlic, leeks, chives, etc.) for another, and most leafy greens can cover for each other.

No white beans? Use chickpeas instead.

And if you are making something that calls for smoked paprika, sweet paprika will do the job – or just add more pepper.

5. Use your loaf

Whether it’s the ends of a sliced loaf, some stale sourdough or the last hunk of a baguette, bread is one of the most wasted foods in households.

However, ingenuity can turn a dry piece of bread into a sauce or pudding. The chewiness and dryness of days-old bread is exactly what you need to soak up milk and eggs for French toast or cover in olive oil to add a salad. Collect the odd ends and freeze for making breadcrumbs or croutons.

6. Add heat

If you end up with tired-looking cucumbers, they’re delicious chargrilled or stir-fried in a hot frying pan.

7. On the side

After you’ve used a few stalks in a soup or bolognese, the rest of the celery often sits in the fridge for a week, getting tired and sad. Instead of throwing them away, braise them in butter for a quick and delicious side dish.

8. All white

Place egg yolks (or egg whites) in an airtight container and freeze for up to one year. Make sure you use them as soon as they are defrosted.

9. Take the plunge

Revive tired broccoli by cutting it into pieces with the stem attached and soaking in a bowl of ice-cold water in the fridge for 30 minutes. Drain, dry and use.

10. Say cheese!

Save parmesan rinds! Pop them in a jar or airtight container and store in the freezer, then pull them out as you need them to throw into a minestrone or a stew.

Use It All by Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards, £18.99, Murdoch Books.

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