Simple Recipes to Reduce Food Waste and Use Up Those Pesky Leftovers – Part 1

Simple Recipes to Reduce Food Waste and Use Up Those Pesky Leftovers - Part 1

Simple recipes to use up leftovers are all over the internet, but they’re often pretentious, overly-complicated, and require three months in a culinary school to pull off. Not this list. Let’s face it, if you were going to go to the effort of crafting a wellington or attempting a soufflé, you’d set out with a clear plan and a pin-point shopping list, not worrying about the courgette that’s been in the bottom of the fridge for two weeks. 

My little list here is designed for the average home cook with the most rudimentary set of culinary skills and equipment. Simple recipes to use up those pesky anomalies lurking in the back of your fridge so you can rustle up something quick, easy and delicious. 

Food waste is a growing problem facing the entire world. We need to take personal responsibility for the food we waste, rather than fretting over which governmental legislation would be best suited to eliminating the appalling amount of produce wasted every year. (That’s for another article)

Each person can do their part by reducing the amount of food we throw in the bin every week. We all do it – we’re all guilty. We put these peppers, sweet potatoes and asparagus in our shopping trolley each week with the best of intentions. “That’ll be nice in a curry,” we tell ourselves. But these once vibrant aubergines and chilis often shrivel into obscurity as we turn up our collective noses and reach for the sausages. 

Soup

20201109 211215Everybody has potatoes, rice, pasta, or flour loitering somewhere in their kitchen. But  for those of you who don’t have one of these starchy, base ingredients, here’s a recipe to put a smile on any face. 

Ingredients

Literally whatever vegetables you have in your fridge. It’s best to have an onion, but not necessary. Anything you have lying around, taking up space, will do – carrots, celery, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, whatever. Some vegetables, like onions and leeks, better lend themselves to soup than, say, avocados or cucumbers, but it’s really hard to go wrong. 

Method

  1. Dice all your veg into small, bitesize pieces.
  2. Warm some olive oil in a large pot.
  3. If you have onion, celery or leek, add them first. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Add crushed garlic and bay leaf (if you have any).
  5. Add any hard, root veg you’re using, eg. carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, pumpkin, squash. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
  6. Add all remaining vegetables and cook for a further 10 mins on a low heat (if you have a stock cube, now is the time to add one or two).
  7. Cover with water and cook for 5 to 10 mins.
  8. Skim! I cannot stress this enough. There will be a white/grey/brown layer of foam congeling at the top of your soup; this is all the unwanted impurities from the vegetables. Using a ladle, carefully skim this off the top, otherwise your soup will taste sour.
  9. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes.
  10. If you used a bay leaf, remove it now. Blitz the soup.
  11. Now is the time to season your soup and get the consistency that’s right for you. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of herbs. If your soup is too thick, add extra water or milk. Simmer for another 10 mins and you’re good to go!!

Final tip: If you have some stale bread, dice it and toss in a pan with some olive oil, salt and garlic. Hey presto, croutons! 

Frightening Facts on Food Waste

Stew20201109 211519

Stew is so simple and versatile yet so delicious. This recipe is carnivorous in nature, but if you’re vegan, vegetarian or simply don’t have any meat in your fridge, don’t worry, veggie stew is just as delicious.

Ingredients

  • Whatever meat you have will do; beef or lamb work best, but chicken, pork, or even sausages will all work.
  • Any vegetables you need to use will work perfectly well in this stew.
  • Tomato Purée, stock cube, bay leaf  (if you have any)
  •  Alcohol (preferably wine but beer also works {darker the better})

Method

  1. Dice your meat and veg into bite-size pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a pot. On a high heat, brown the meat on both sides, it doesn’t need to be cooked fully through.
  3. Remove the meat and set aside, making sure to keep the juice in the pot. 
  4. If you have onion, celery or leek, add them first. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Add crushed garlic, tomato purée and bay leaf (if you have any).
  6. Add any hard, root veg you’re using, eg. carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, pumpkin, squash. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Add all remaining vegetables and cook for a further 10 minutes on a low heat (if you have a stock cube, now is the time to add one or two).
  8. Return your cooked meat to the pot. Add one or two cups of alcohol and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  9. Cover with water and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes on a low heat.
  10. Skim! As I said in the soup recipe, it is vital to skim off the white/grey/brown layer of foam congeling at the top of your stew. 
  11. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and simmer for at least one hour.

What to do with my food waste

Pasta

20201109 213904

This is the quickest and easiest way to consume any vegetables tinkering on the brink of the compost bin. 

Ingredients

  • Pasta
  • Meat (don’t waste the steak, use sausages, bacon, mice, chicken or fish)
  • Any and all vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Milk or cream
  • Wine or beer
  • Tomato purée

Method

  1. Dice your meat and veg into bite-size pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Cook the meat, remove and set aside, making sure to keep the juice in the pot. 
  3. Cook onion and garlic on a low heat for 5 minutes before adding any hard, root veg and cook on a low heat for a further 10 minutes.
  4. Add all remaining vegetables, add a spoon of tomato purée and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat.
  5. Fill a separate pot with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
  6. Once boiled, add your pasta and cook for approximately 8 minutes.
  7. Strain the pasta and immediately add to the vegetables. Add the meat to the mix and stir.
  8. Quickly add one cup of milk or cream and a splash of white wine. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes on a low heat.
  9. Add in the cheese and stir the mix until the cheese is fully melted. 
  10. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Stopfoodwaste.ie – Food Waste in Our Homes

Jambalaya 20201109 215407

Don’t be unnerved by the name, this is just a basic, generic recipe which I could just as easily have called “fried rice” or “biryani.” It’s just rice, veg and meat. Rustic, hearty, healthy, delicious. 

Ingredients

  • Rice
  • Meat (don’t waste the steak, use sausages, bacon, mice, chicken or fish)
  • Any and all vegetables
  • Wine or beer
  • Tomato purée

Method

  1. Use two cups of water for every one cup of rice. Place the rice and water in a pot, cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Do not stir.
  2. Dice your meat and veg into bite-size pieces.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. And cook the meat. Remove and set aside, making sure to keep the juice in the pan. 
  4. Cook onion and garlic on a low heat for 5 minutes before adding any hard, root veg and cook on a low heat for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Add all remaining vegetables, add a spoon of tomato purée and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat.
  6. Add one cup of wine. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes on a low heat. 
  7. Add the meat and rice to the mix, season with salt, pepper and a few chili flakes and cook on a medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

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About the author

Mark Comerford

Mark is a chef and blogger putting a new spin on food journalism. Follow his blog - No Eggs, No Milk, No Problem

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