Those annoying, or inspiring, bits of food that we don’t know what to do with become our mothers of culinary invention; marginalized ingredients can serve a whopping kick in the culinary butt and influence unimagined innovation. My efforts to actually use the food I buy or grow means that I’ve received a few such nudges as I try to think outside the box, especially after reading about how much food we waste.
I wrote about this question of wasted food recently and there were some good suggestions made. Pat reminded me that Jacques Pepin, the French chef, tossed the end bits of still-decent vegetables into the freezer – not the garbage – for future soups or vegetable stock. Scanning the veggie bin often for salvageable bits and pieces is part of the deal.
Becky Selengut had a great idea about reclaiming asparagus butts (it helps that she’s an actual chef). Normally discarded as too tough and/or stringy, she suggested we slice those end pieces of asparagus as thinly as possible, along with some radishes. I added a small amount of red onion, also thinly sliced. Sprinkle with lightly flavored rice vinegar, some pepper and marinate briefly. Delicious on its own, or toss into a larger green salad or on to a pile of mixed fresh herbs. Avocado would be wonderful with this mix. Thanks Becky, and check out a chef’s point-of-view on her excellent blog, Chef Reinvented.
Chives. Their flowers are in full bloom right now and are gorgeous and delicious with salad greens, plus the chives will return again if clipped. I pruned a bunch yesterday, left two other bunches alone for the moment and will cut them later. The idea is to have ongoing chives this summer. We’ll see if this actually works.
Tomatoes too ripe? Don’t toss ’em, roast ’em. Slice in half or quarters, sprinkle liberally with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast at high heat, 425º, for 15 – 20 minutes, or until browned and almost meltingly soft. Put these caramelized wonders on almost anything, especially a piece of garlicky toasted bread, pasta or polenta and from now on be grateful for overly ripe tomatoes. Or, toss them into the freezer and roast later when a bunch have accumulated.
Changing paradigms. Thinking outside the box, we’re moving into living green or attempting to do so more often, which means being careful with food because it’s another precious resource – and easier on the pocketbook.
Speaking of food as a precious resource, if you’re interested in helping create another Seattle P-Patch, this fuzzy poster has information for this Saturday’s pitch in event in West Seattle.