So, it’s a bummer, but I had some actual wasted food this week: I threw away the heel of a loaf of bread that had been sitting in the fridge too long, some shredded zucchini that had been in the freezer since last summer, and half a lemon that I never got around to juicing. In this week’s post, I explain why taking stock of your food stores seasonally is important, give you this week’s grocery list, and copy a recipe for the Green Soup that’s making me feel like spring.
No-Waste Food Tip #7: Spring (and Summer, Fall, and Winter) Clean
The bread and half-lemon were casualties of all the traveling I’ve done recently, but the zucchini’s another matter. It came from a giant zucchini I got from someone’s garden last summer — it was too huge to cook (they’re too watery when they’re that big) so I shredded it and used some for zucchini bread and froze the rest. Maybe it would have been ok to un-freeze it now, but I thought at nine months it was probably too far gone. This decision was part of a seasonal stock-taking — but I should have done the same thing at the end of the fall, at which point I should have determined that I needed to use the zucchini! Part of not wasting food from now on is going to be regular (every three months) stock-taking, where I go through the freezer and cupboards and make a plan to use everything that was there the last time I took stock. I don’t want anything to last more than six months! This time, my hunt around the freezer and pantry turned up more frozen sour cherries (which granted are more than six months old, but I think they’re ok; I plan to turn them into another batch of jam, and into a pie or two); two bags of pumpkin and sunflower seeds (I’ve been toasting them and putting them in oatmeal and salad in lieu of nuts, and am determined to eat through them before I buy more walnuts/almonds/etc); some dried pinto beans (still need a plan for these); and some buckwheat flour (ditto. Pancakes?)
I did all my shopping at Whole Foods this week, since I didn’t need too much and most of it I wanted to get from there anyway (having missed the farmer’s market day since I worked Saturday, I did my shopping on Sunday.)
Sweet potatoes, $7.10
Goat cheese, $3.99
Total with tax, $27.22
(adapted from Kitchen Konfidence)
Do any of you have trouble making the cooking transition from winter to spring? I find there’s always a long period when I’m not ready to make my summer recipes yet, but I really want something that’s not “wintry.” This week I decided to make this blended soup recipe, which is kind of like a savory smoothie 🙂 I’ve been eating it for dinner with my homemade bread and it makes me feel healthy and light and spring-like. If it’s not enough food for you, you could spread some goat cheese on the bread, or stir some cooked grains into the soup.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
Kosher salt, to taste
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock, but I think the chicken stock works better)
1 large bunch swiss chard, stems removed and reserved for another use, leaves roughly chopped
1 large bunch spinach (8-12 oz) roughly chopped
Cayenne pepper, to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp)
1 tbsp lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon juice and it was wonderful)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the onions, sugar, and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes or until they start to brown. Then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for another 30-40 minutes until the onions are a beautiful deep brown. (The sugar helps them caramelize; you can leave it out, but everything will take longer and the color will be less deep.)
Add the chicken stock and bring the heat back up; when the stock comes to a low boil, lower it again and add the chard and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and cayenne, cover and cook for 5 minutes. [If you’re nervous about the cayenne, just add half — or 1/8 tsp — here, then you can add more to taste at the end.]
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it’s totally smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, then adjust salt, cayenne, and lemon juice to taste. This reheats well, although the gorgeous bright green will be duller after it sits in the fridge for a while so if you’re serving it to guests you might want to do it at the last minute.