What we choose to eat has a huge impact on the world – but simply using more of what you buy could make a big difference. If food waste ends up in landfill, it becomes a huge greenhouse gas emitter. Reducing waste in the home can therefore help tackle climate change while saving you money.
‘Compleating’ expert Ellen Tout shares some of her favourite ways to use all the edible parts of fruit and veg taken from The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating, which she wrote to share simple ways we can all integrate zero-waste cooking into our everyday lives.
Smoked ‘salmon’ style carrot lox
Using a peeler down the length of one to two medium carrots, create carrot ribbons. Press firmly with the peeler so that the ribbons are thin, but not shavings. Alternatively, use a knife and slice, very thinly.
Place the carrot ribbons in a pan of water and bring to the boil.
Simmer for five minutes before straining and running under a cold tap. Set aside.
Now make the marinade. In a small oven-proof dish combine two tablespoons olive oil, four teaspoons of light soy sauce, two teaspoons liquid smoke, one teaspoon of brine from a jar of capers, one teaspoon lemon juice, one sheet of crumbled sushi nori, a little black pepper and around 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt.
Add the carrot ribbons and mix well. This can be left to marinade overnight or used immediately once ready.
Cook in the oven at 170 °C/Gas Mark 3 for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve with plant-based cream ‘cheeze’, on toast, crackers, or bagels. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice and a few capers and an optional sprinkling of carrot chopped carrot top leaves.
Banana peel ‘bacon’
The peels of bananas are full of nutrients – high in potassium, fibres, protein and the mood-boosting hormone serotonin.
Banana peel ‘bacon’ is a great way to use yellow to brown skins – green ones are too bitter. Tout’s tip is to save up the skins in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days until you are ready to use them.
To prepare the peels, wash them, remove the hard ends and separate into long strips 2.5-5 cm wide. Use a spoon to scrape off the phloem bundles (white stringy bits). You should now have thin strips ready to marinade.
In a bowl, mix one tablespoon dark soy sauce, two teaspoons maple syrup, one teaspoon water, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika to create the smoky, salty and sweet taste.
Coat the banana skins and leave to marinade for at least 20 minutes. I like to make this the night before ready for breakfast.
When ready, heat 1 tablespoon rapeseed/canola oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat.
Fry each piece of peel for a few minutes on each side to reach the desired texture – it can be left to go crispy or softer, to taste.
Easy universal pickling
Prep: 15 minutes plus maturing time
A 1 litre/1 quart jar (or 2 smaller jars)
1 tablespoon salt
80ml vinegar of your choice
Enough vegetables to fill your jar, chopped into bitesize pieces,
Optional aromatics, such as peppercorns, garlic cloves, mustard seeds, or chili
In a jug, dissolve the salt in 240ml /9 fl oz /1 cup water, and add the vinegar.
Layer the vegetables in the jar and pour over the liquid.
Add any aromatics and seal the jar. The flavour will strengthen over time, but you can test it after one hour.
Store in the fridge and eat within one month or sterilise and seal your jar to store and a cupboard for a few months.
If you have lots more to pickle, this recipe is easily upscaled. The liquid should remain one part vinegar to three parts water, and adjust the salt accordingly.
Toasted squash seeds
Finally, who throws away free snacks? Lots of us, but the seeds from pumpkins and butternut squash are very much edible, and full of fibre and protein, with a nutty flavour.
Separate, rinse and toast the seeds on a baking tray in the oven at 180°C/Gas mark 4 for 10 minutes to then add to salads granola and homemade cereal bars.
Or try mixing the seeds in a little oil, salt and spices, such as smoked paprika, before cooking. Use as a topping for soups, avocado toast or as a snack.