Don't waste food!

Five fun and easy ideas for recycling waste in the kitchen

Too much, or too little.

A quick glance at our planet’s overall situation reveals a startling imbalance between food production and its actual consumption. If two-thirds of the population doesn't have enough to eat in order to survive, the remaining third just has too much to eat, has to deal with the widespread problem of obesity, and at the same time throws away tons of food every year. 


The problem doesn’t concern only supermarkets, restaurants and large-scale retail trade. Domestic waste as well is sky-high. An annual FAO study calculated that, in industrialised countries alone, 1.3 billion tons of food is produced and not eaten every year. These astronomical and sensational figures have forced governments to introduce new measures and laws in order to regulate this enormous loss in everyday life. The meaning of the 7thInternational Forum on Food and Nutrition slogan, “Eat Better, Eat Less, Food for All”, is crystal clear: each one of us can contribute to reducing the environmental and social impact of this waste while at the same time helping our organisms with little stratagems that make the difference. 

But not to worry! Cutting waste in the kitchen is easier than you think. How? With a pinch of creativity and initiative. By using, for example, leftovers of foods we eat every day: the outside leaves of a head of lettuce, broccoli leaves and stems, fruit peels or potato peelings, legume pods. With a bit of imagination, all this can be transformed into a marvellous snack or an actual meal. 


You have just prepared a lovely centrifuged juice and you don’t know what to do with the fruit and vegetable scraps? That’s a shame, because you don’t know what a superb base for baked desserts they make. Cakes, muffins, plum cakes... whatever shape you want to give them, their content will be deliciously healthy because pure vegetable fibre is full of vitamins. Try this: put the pulp removed from the centrifuge, 2 eggs, 200 g of sugar and 100 ml of seed oil (that makes the dessert lighter) into a mixer, add 200 g of sifted flour and half a packet of baking powder to the mixture, then bake at 180°C for about 45 minutes. If you centrifuged vegetables as well, you can also try the savoury version. 

Whenever you peel an apple, don’t throw out the peels! Instead, choose an organic apple, wash it carefully and dry its peel in a ventilated oven for two hours at 50°C. Afterwards dust it with vanilla sugar. It will be a great sweet for your children's snack. Or you can use it to flavour a cup of tea. Would you like a home-made tisane to warm up your winter afternoons? Here is what we suggest: place the peels of two organic apples in boiling water, add a whole cinnamon stick, a few cloves and a slice or two of ginger. After letting it sit for 15 minutes, filter and, if you like, add some honey for an extra hint of sweetness. Sip it hot. It does wonders for both spirit and body.

You have just prepared a seafood dinner for 6 and you don't know what to do with all those scraps of fish and shellfish. Throwing them away is one option. Another one, instead, is to use them to prepare a delectable consommé also known as fish stock that you can use as a base for risottos, sauces, soups or other concoctions. The best choices are white flesh fish such as bass, gilthead or turbot, or reef fish such as scorpion fish or gurnard. The flavour of salmon and mackeral, which are very fatty, would be too strong. Preparation is quick and easy, and it will take you just about 20 minutes. Wash the heads and fishbones thoroughly. Now brown one leek, half a carrot, a stalk of celery and one onion in butter, add the fish scraps and a dash of white wine and let it reduce. There is no need to add salt. Filter the mixture, and voilà! You can even freeze it for future use. The same preparation made with shellfish and tomatoes is called bisque, and is just as simple. 

Not a single part of legumes is tossed out. Not even the pods. When you buy fresh peas or beans, half of the bag consists of the legume’s peels. So why throw away a resource that costs nothing and, what’s more, can be used as the perfect base for delicious concoctions? With a little imagination you will be amazed by the result. When broad bean pods are steamed, they turn into a lukewarm salad with a spring onion, sesame and soy sauce. Then after you eliminate the stringy portion of pinto bean pods, you can brown them with garlic, onion and potatoes to create a mild cream to serve hot with a trickle of olive oil, accompanied with ricotta cheese or sour cream. 


What do you do when friends suddenly turn up at your door without forewarning, and you want to show off your culinary skills with a whipped-up aperitif? If you have some cauliflower or Romanesco broccoli in the fridge, the answer is simple: you can quickly prepare a tapenade to serve on hot toast using the leaves and stems. Blanch them and throw them into the mixer together with black olives, anchovies in oil, capers, oregano and just enough extra virgin olive oil to get a creamy consistency.

Have fun experimenting!

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