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Recipe Rescue: April 2015

In our society today about one-third of the total amount of food produced is thrown away. This statistic is even more troubling because roughly 805 million people worldwide are food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. Food waste is a huge problem, and that is an understatement. As portion sizes in North America grow, so does food waste. But we can all do a small part to help combat food waste, which supports an overall healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family.

The easiest way to reduce food-waste footprint is to have a plan. Show up to your farmer’s market or grocery store with a list of food necessities instead of strolling around for food wants. Watching food go rotten in the fridge and pantry is taboo in my books – it is a careless waste of ingredients and also a waste of your hard-earned money. There are great little tricks easily found on the Internet to help make your food last longer and keep mold away (check out End of Food Waste on davidsuzuki.org). For example, did you know that guacamole freezes surprisingly well? Or that if a great meal you created is reaching its life span in the fridge, it will likely live another day in the freezer? It may also be time to revisit some of our grandparents’ methods of making food last, such as canning and preserving.

I have always been an advocate for leftovers. Many dishes improve within a day or two. I take great pleasure on the final day (or night) of duty creating something special out of what I had previously made for my crew members during our shifts. Try this. The results will surprise you.

We can all use a lesson on how to maximize all of an ingredient we buy. We need to rethink what we believe belongs in a recipe and what we should discard. Why do we throw away beet greens, carrot tops and kale stems? I always throw these items in a sealable bag in the freezer to make homemade veggie stock, but I recently discovered that they can also be sauteed, shaved into salads, or made into soup. Chefs from around the world and awesome home cooks view using an entire ingredient as a way to showcase their culinary creativity – a challenge of sorts – and we can learn from them. Honour your raw ingredients! Before throwing away a portion that you previously believed to be inedible, take a bite. If it doesn’t taste all that great initially, imagine it sauteed in a little butter with salt and pepper, or perhaps masked in a pesto, or mixed in a salad or added to a soup. If, despite all your efforts, you still cannot save the food you bought using all of your new-found techniques, consider composting. Composting is a great last resort.

Like most issues that trouble our society, every little bit of change helps cure the problem. I challenge us all to find recipes that use vegetables from root to stalk to leaf, buy only what we consume, reuse food we have already made, and discard our food responsibly.

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Broccoli stalk and carrot top slaw
A broccoli stalk and carrot top slaw easily compliments sweet potato chips and a banquet burger.

Broccoli stalk and carrot top slaw
Ingredients — DRESSING

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dried sweetened cranberries, plumped up in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes, then drained
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt, more to taste
  • 6 tbsp canola oil
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

Ingredients — SALAD

  • 4 cups peeled and grated broccoli stalks
  • 2 cups grated carrots (from 4 to 6 carrots), plus carrot tops, finely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (Napa cabbage, green, or red cabbage)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions, tops and bottoms
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. To make the dressing, put the balsamic and red wine vinegars, plumped, dried cranberries, mustard, honey, garlic, orange juice, orange zest, and salt into a blender or a mini food processor and pulse until pureed smooth. Slowly add the vegetable oil, while pulsing or blending, to form a good emulsion. Then add the mayonnaise and pulse until blended.
  2. Place grated broccoli stalks, carrots with their tops, cabbage, the onions, dried cranberries, orange zest, and kosher salt into a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine, until the dressing is evenly distributed. Make several hours before serving to allow the flavours to come together. Enjoy!


Cauliflower steak

Green gumbo pairs nicely with cauliflower steak with salsa verde.

Cauliflower steaks with salsa verde
Ingredients

  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro and tarragon
  • 1 ½ tbsp capers, drained, coarsely chopped
  • 6 zesty baby dills, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. To make the salsa verde, in a large bowl, whisk the parsley with the cilantro, tarragon, capers, pickles, garlic, mustards and olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Cut the cauliflower from top to bottom into four 1/2-inch-thick steaks and season them liberally with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil until very hot. Add the cauliflower in a single layer and cook over high heat until well browned. Carefully turn the steaks, add the wine and cook until it is evaporated and the cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the cauliflower to a platter and sprinkle with the lemon zest. Stir the lemon juice and vinegar into your salsa verde and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce on the cauliflower and serve. Enjoy!

Green gumbo recipe 
Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery, leaves and all
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Cajun spice blend 
  • 10 cups good quality vegetable stock
  • 14 cups assorted greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, chard, parsley, dandelion greens, beet greens, carrot tops), using all parts chopped
  • 1 pound smoked andouille sausage
  • 1 smoked turkey leg Kosher sal

Cajun spice blend

  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika

Directions:

  1. Start the gumbo by making a roux. Heat the cup of peanut oil over medium heat for a minute or two and then stir in the flour. Whisk so there are no lumps. Cook the roux over medium-low heat until it is the colour of chocolate. Stir constantly and keep your eye on it.
  2. While the roux is cooking, bring the 10 cups of stock to a simmer. When the roux is dark enough, mix in the chopped onions, celery and green pepper and turn the heat to medium. Let this cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and cook another one to two minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves and Cajun spice and slowly stir in the hot stock. Keep stirring and it will all come together to form a nice smooth broth. Add the turkey leg and all the greens. Cover the pot and simmer gently for one hour and 15 minutes.
  4. Check the turkey leg and if the meat is falling off the bone, remove it, discard the bones, chop the meat and return it to the pot. Add the andouille sausage and cook for another 15 minutes. Check for seasoning and add more Cajun spice or salt if desired. Enjoy!

Pickled Swiss chard stems
Ingredients

  • 2 large bunches of Swiss chard (or any type of chard), leaves removed and saved for another use
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

Directions:

  1. Rinse the chard stems and with a sharp knife trim their ends and remove any remaining leaves. In a large saucepan, blanch the stems for about one minute. Immediately drain the stems and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. While waiting, tightly pack the chard stems into a glass jar and set aside. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool slightly – about one to two minutes. Pour the brine into the jar, being sure to cover the chard stems completely. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal the jar with a tight fitting lid. When kept covered and chilled, the pickles will keep well for 1 to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

*Chefs Note – you can use this quick pickling recipe for absolutely anything that you may be thinking of throwing away. Try any stem or vegetable you may have hanging around.


Patrick Mathieu is an acting captain at Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. He was recently featured on Food Network’s Chopped Canada. stationhousecateringco@yahoo.ca  @StationHouseCCo


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