Good morning, anti-food-waste zealots. Having spent last year (mostly) conquering the worst of my food waste habits — overshopping, getting takeout instead of cooking what I already had — I’ll have to spend this year looking for slightly more arcane ways to save (a) the planet and (b) my wallet.
One thing I’m going to do is try to focus on the vegetable equivalent of “nose to tail” eating, which is the movement to use every part of an animal in cooking. Instead of just using boneless skinless chicken breasts, for example, we’d eat all the meat and use the bones, feet, and skin for broth. The really adventurous might even find something to do with the head? For vegetables, this is called “stem to root,” and it encourages you to use the whole plant.
So I’m interested in finding out how much I can use of common vegetable parts I typically throw away. I started this week by scooping the seeds out of my butternut squash — and then toasting them and having them as a snack. That’s a pretty typical salvage move. I’d like to see what other kinds of things I can come up with. Stay tuned!
I had limited time last weekend so I just hit up Whole Foods and otherwise was able to use stuff I already had.
Goat cheese, $4.99
Jewel yams, $2.45
Spelt berries (bulk bin), $2.67
Steelcut oats (bulk bin), $2.74
Whole wheat pastry flour (bulk bin), $3.16
Butternut squash, $2.55
Thai red curry paste, $4.39
Yukon gold potatoes, $1.67
Total with tax: $50.98
What I Made
A few of those supplies were for a dinner party I had: I used some of the shallots, the broccoli, and the potatoes along with eggs and goat cheese to make a frittata. We had an extremely simple salad (just lettuce with a viniagrette) using lettuce my housemate wasn’t going to use, and I made chocolate-ginger-apricot cookies using entirely pantry ingredients I already had (including the last of some dried apricots I bought for Christmas cookies.) It was a lovely dinner!
As for the rest of the week, I’m not tired of my raisin-toasted nut-blueberry-steel-cut-oats breakfast yet so I kept going with that. I ate a few dinners with my volunteer gig, one paid for by work, and a couple of very simple ones (an apple with some peanut butter, a few roasted potatoes.) Snacks — apples and some chocolate-covered espresso beans I got as a Christmas gift. Lunch was my main meal this week, and for that I made my own version of Heidi Swanson’s Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad. Longtime readers will know that I really like both Swanson’s cooking in general, and sturdy grain/vegetable salads in particular. I make them on the weekends, then pack them for lunch all week. I made this one more meal-like by adding tofu and kale to the original. She calls for farro, but when I was going to buy it I saw that spelt, in the bin right next to it, was less than half the price. They are pretty interchangeable when it comes to preparations like these, so I just got the cheaper one.
2-3 cups farro, spelt, or wheat berries, rinsed and drained
2 tsp sea salt
5-7 c water (if you use stock, decrease the salt)
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1/2″ dice
Butternut squash cut into 1/2″ dice
1 large red onion (or use several shallots, like I did, or regular onions), cut in 1/2″ wedges
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 c walnuts, chopped and deeply toasted
1/4 c (approx) crumbled goat cheese or feta
1 bundle of kale, stemmed and chopped into small pieces
Cook the farro/spelt/wheat berries in the water, with the salt, at a simmer until cooked (could take anywhere from 20 min to an hour depending on what you have and how fresh it is. Taste it to make sure it’s how you want it to be; should be chewy but not hard.) Drain if necessary and let cool.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375. Toss squash, tofu, onions, and thyme with the oil and vinegar, and with a couple pinches of salt. Spread them out on one or two baking sheets and roast until the squash is done — browned and soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool.
In a big bowl toss all ingredients except the goat cheese with a little more olive oil, or substitute toasted walnut oil. Add the goat cheese and toss more gently. I got a little fancy and kept the goat cheese out of the salad proper. Instead, when I wanted to eat a serving of this salad, I reheated it in the microwave for 30 seconds, just enough to take the chill off, and then mixed in some cheese (so it wouldn’t melt.)