Tackle food waste by turning scraps on your chopping board into thrifty, zero-waste-inspired creations.
Making the food we already have to hand go further is a great way to tackle food waste. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there are many leaves, tops or rinds that we throw away that are perfectly good for eating.
Be inspired by some unlikely signature ingredients and these ideas to waste less food:
When it comes to cabbages, the whole cabbage is edible and safe to eat. The outer leaves can, however, be unappealing due to their fibrous texture. Rip the leaf with your hands. Does it have fibrous strings running through it? If so, resist the urge to throw them out. These leaves are perfect for making kimchi.
Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish originating from Korea, made by fermenting Chinese cabbage, carrots, mooli (Asian radish), and spring onions in a spicy marinade of ginger, garlic, chilli, and fish sauce. But many different fruit and vegetables ‘kimchi’ well; use ripe pears or apples that you need to use up for extra flavour.
Swiss chard stalks
Swiss chard leaves and stalks are best treated as separate ingredients. The leaves cook down like spinach, but the stalks remain chunky and coarse. Simmer the stalks in water and blend them into homemade hummus. Or, sautee them with onion into any soup or pie.
You have hit the jackpot if you are lucky enough to find a cauliflower retaining its fresh leaves. These leaves are a delicious ingredient. When cooked, they take on a white cabbage flavour with more bite due to the thicker ribs on the leaves. Why not try cooking them into curries or Indian side dishes like Aloo Gobi (spiced potato and cauliflower)? Or, roast them with your favourite spices and blend them into soups.
Limp rocket or herbs
It happens to us all; despite all the best intentions, sometimes herbs and salad leaves look a bit past their best in the bottom of the vegetable drawer. Although their fate may no longer be to morph into a salad, let’s keep an open mind. Your limp leaves are destined to become some form of delicious green sauce. Blend the leaves with toasted pine nuts, basil, cheese, and olive oil to make a pesto. Whizz with chilli, garlic, vinegar, and oil to create a chimichurri sauce to jazz up any meat dish. Add yoghurt and citrus to make a perfect accompaniment to any fish dish.
Celery leaves or fennel fronds
When bought whole and fresh, celery should sport a bounty of pretty leaves at the top of the stalks. These can be used as a fresh herb to top any soup or salad. The same goes for fennel fronds, which can be used to substitute dill in any dish to add a new flavour dimension.
It is a good idea to buy unwaxed lemons whenever possible to use lemon skin. Using lemon skin adds another dimension of lemony zing to any dish that you can’t get with the juice alone. Grate them into any salad dressing to add a citrus tang or add to a creamy pasta sauce.
Leek tops are one of the best vegetable scraps to make a rich vegetable stock. To make a stock, simmer the green parts of the leek with onion skins, carrot peelings, garlic, celery scraps and bay leaves, or whatever aromatics you need to use up. Alternatively, cook down with butter and then stir into mash.