If food waste was a country it would be the third largest producer of carbon emissions behind China and the US. It’s hardly an appetising way to start a food column but I read this sentence on the Love Food Hate Waste website recently and it got me thinking. Food waste is big and it is serious but it’s also something we’re starting to realise we can change on a day-to-day level ourselves – on our own chopping boards, in our lunchboxes and on our dinner tables. We know that it’s big, but we’re ready to tackle it one broccoli stalk at a time.
TO EAT: BROCCOLI STALKS AND LEAVES
Antioxidant-rich broccoli has some serious health benefits and is a menu staple in Aotearoa. But why do we whip off the florets and bin the stalk and leaves when they’re just as delicious and versatile? As with beetroot, carrots, radishes and a raft of other veges, the leaves are often removed before the broccoli reaches the shop shelf. If you grow your own or shop at a farmers’ market, you’ll be able to get your hands on the kale-like leaves; otherwise just focus on that chunky stem. Try using the stalks and leaves like this:
1 Cut stalks into thin rounds and place on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cracked pepper, sea salt and grated parmesan. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 150°C until slightly golden and cooked through. Toss through greens as a salad, use to top risotto or polenta, pile on toast or add to a frittata mixture.
2 Make pesto by roughly chopping the stalk into small pieces and whizzing in a food processor with garlic, lemon juice and zest and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
3 Sauté leaves in a pan with crushed garlic and a splash of black vinegar and soy sauce. Serve with rice and crispy shallots.
TO THINK ABOUT: BREAD
Did you know we Kiwis throw out 20 million dry/stale/mouldy loaves every year? There is really no reason bread should be thrown away unless it is riddled with mould, which is a preventable issue in itself.
Revive it If you’ve left a loaf on the bench slightly too long and it’s starting to feel like a brick, a little water and heat can do wonders. Heat the oven to 150°C and run the bread under water for 15-20 seconds. Pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes until water has dried. Remove; the loaf should now be soft enough to cut.
Use it Bread and butter pudding, French toast, pangritata, bread sauce, bruschetta, toasted sandwiches – these can all be made with stale bread. Have fun trying out inventive ways to breathe life into old bread.
Freeze it Store those abandoned crusts and slightly-too-chewy ends in a bag in the freezer and when you have enough thaw and process into crumbs.
TO PRESERVE: WILTING GREENS
Try these simple ideas for giving herbs and greens longevity.
1 Herb salts There are a couple of options for preserving herbs with salt. One option is to stack whole herb leaves between layers of sea salt in a clean jar. The salt will keep the leaves fresh and will gradually become infused with the herb flavour. Alternatively, whizz together herbs with salt (about 1 cup herbs to 1 cup salt) then spread out the salt onto a lined baking tray, cover and leave for a day to dry out. Keep herb salts in a sealed jar in a cool place. They will last for up to a year.
2 Herb/green oils Flavoured oils are so simple to create. Blanch 1-2 cups greens/herbs in boiling water to soften (woody stems removed). Drain and whizz together with 1 cup olive oil plus any extra ingredients (eg rosemary, lemon zest, thyme, toasted fennel seed) and voilà – oil ready to be drizzled onto soups, brushed onto bruschetta, or marbled through scrambled eggs.