I think a lot about food waste. This article from the Atlantic outlines just how much food waste our country generates — about 40 percent of the U.S. food supply goes to waste! — and it infuriates me.
One of the things I hate most about not having my own yard is not having a compost. It kills me having to throw out so many stems, cores, shells and other bits that would make some soil very happy. I’m working on solutions.
I’ve also been working very hard to try to cut down on my own food waste as much as I can. I freeze things like crazy. Gluten-free cookie recipe that just didn’t quite work? I’ll probably pop those in a freezer container for a new life as an ice cream mix-in.
I freeze bananas past their eating prime for banana bread, as well as bits of veggies for stock. Carrot ends, celery bits, fennel stems? Yes, yes, those all get saved too, along with the bits of chicken and other bones. I pour any coffee that gets left in the French press each morning into ice cube trays for coffee cubes I can later use for iced coffee. Lately I’ve started zesting all of my citrus before eating/juicing and then freezing that too.
When I have a bigger bunch of herbs than I can use before they go bad, I try to dry them for later use. I hate when I have to buy pre-bunched herbs rather than bulk. Parsley, in particular, is a chronic offender. I always just seem to need a tiny bit and get stuck purchasing a massive bunch. Sometimes I can make it into parsley salads, or just grow my own, but other times, I find myself scratching my head over what to do with all the parsley.
I’ve been also trying to use as much of each veggie as I can. I eat beet and turnip greens, of course, and I’ve been trying to determine what to do with radish and carrot tops. So far my research into the edibility of carrot tops has left me rather confused.
Stems are another issue in my household. I personally will happily chow down on thick kale and other leafy green stems, but the boy is not a fan. He prefers I cut off the stems — or at least the bigger ones — when preparing greens. His preparation of Brussels sprouts, while also delicious, drives me crazy because he takes off so many of the outer leaves. Fortunately I’ve discovered that you can take those leaves and make the B-sprout equivalent of kale chips with them. Ruby Tuesday is also a fan.
Anyway, I had a bunch of stems left the other day and decided to do a little research on what to do with them. I found this recipe for a kale stem and parsley pesto. Fortuitously, I also had a large bunch of parsley left that I was desperately seeking purposes for. Perfect!
I deviated from the recipe a bit and quickly blanched my stems, which still had a few leafy bits attached, rather than leave them purely raw. I think it was a good decision. I also added more garlic than the recipe called for, because that’s what I do.