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Rescuing vegetables and preventing food waste at home (e.g. by making leftover dinners) requires some creativity. It happens sometimes that I pick up discounted vegetables from a supermarket or market, but then don’t really know what to do with them. Looking for a recipe around these vegetables doesn’t always work, because it usually requires getting more ingredients than the ones you already have. 

But there is a way around it. Each world cuisine gets its unique flavors from the mix of spices and herbs. So when I feel like making a dish from a certain part of the world, I use the vegetables that are available in the Netherlands (no looking for exotic ingredients) and spice them up in a certain way. Remember that once you start practising these mixes it will become your second nature. And no recipes needed!

Italian

Photo by Jakub Kapusnak on Unsplash

Base: Cook on the basis of olive oil and garlic. 

Best vegetables: Almost any vegetable will do for an Italian-style dish, for example tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, carrots, onions. 

Spices and Herbs: Use a mix of dry herbs like oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, and thyme

Grains: Serve your Italian-style dish with pasta or short-grain rice like Aroborio

Top up: finish your dishes with fresh basil, cheese, and/or olives.


French

Photo by Nick Nice on Unsplash

Base: Cook on the basis of olive oil or butter, garlic, and onions. If you’re making stew, use red wine and vegetable bouillon as liquids.. 

Best vegetables: celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms, green beans, asparagus, potatoes, eggplants, zucchini.

Spices and Herbs: Use fresh thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and ground nutmeg. 

Grains: Fresh bread.

Top up: Fresh thyme, rosemary, or parsley.


Greek

Photo by Dmitry Dreyer on Unsplash

Base: Cook on the base of olive oil, garlic, and onions. 

Best vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, olives, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants, cucumbers, potatoes, 

Spices and Herbs: Dried oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and paprika powder

Grains: Pita bread, rice, or orzo

Top up: Finish the dish with a squeeze of lemon juice, crumbled feta cheese, or serve with tzatziki sauce. 


Japanese

Photo by Cody Chan on Unsplash

Base: Cook on the base of sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. 

Best vegetables: Bok choy, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, radish, daikon, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, spring onion.

Spices and Herbs: Get the unique Japanese flavour by adding a few teaspoons of soy sauce, sake, and miso paste into your dish. You can also use them to prepare a salad dressing. Optionally, try adding some honey or sugar to sweeten the dish

Grains: Short-grain rice (e.g. sushi rice), rice noodles, ramen or udon noodles.

Top up: Finish your dish with toasted sesame seeds, nori or other seaweed. 


Indian 

Photo by Pille-Riin Priske on Unsplash

Base: Cook the stews on ghee or coconut oil with ginger and garlic.

Best vegetables: Potatoes, spinach, legumes (lentils/split peas), broccoli, cauliflower, eggplants, leafy greens.

Spices and Herbs: Chili pepper, coriander seeds, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds. You can also use read-made curry paste (red, yellow, or green). To get the stew consistency, use canned tomatoes and/or coconut milk (add vegetable bouillon if needed).

Grains: Long grain rice (e.g. basmati) or Chapati bread.


Chinese

Photo by Ryan Kwok on Unsplash

Base: Cook on the base of peanut or sesame oil with garlic

Best vegetables: Bamboo, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, paprika, onion, cabbage, bok choy, leafy greens

Spices and Herbs: Fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves, star anise. Use soy sauce, sesame oil and/or oyster sauce for dressings or sauces. 

Grains: Egg noodles or rice


Mexican

Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

Base: Cook on vegetable oil or lard with chili pepper and garlic

Best vegetables: Tomato, black beans, avocados, potatoes, corn, onions, paprika.

Spices and Herbs: chili powder, cayenne pepper, coriander seeds, cumin, cinnamon 

Grains: Corn tortillas, wheat burritos, rice

Top up: Finish you dishes with a squeeze of lime juice and fresh  coriander leaves.


Middle Eastern

Photo by Kyle Brinker on Unsplash

Base: Cook on olive oil with garlic and onion.

Best Vegetables: Eggplants, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas.

Spices and Herbs: Cumin, sesame seeds, sumak, thyme, dried marjoram, 

Grains: Couscous, bulgur, rice, or flat bread.

Top up: Finish your dish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and fresh parsley or mint leaves. You can also serve your dish with hummus or grilled halloumi cheese. 


Thai 

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Base: Use red, green, or yellow curry paste as a base for cooking. Add coconut milk for stews. 

Best Vegetables: Paprika, eggplant, carrot, broccoli, leafy greens, green peas, spring onion.

Spices and Herbs: Ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, chili pepper (or use pre-made curry paste)

Grains: Jasmine rice or rice noodles

Top up: Finish your dish with few leaves of (Thai) basil or coriander, cashew nuts or peanuts, a squeeze of fresh lime juice. 

In this blog you’ll find the five most wasted food products, and some inspiration for what to do with them so they don’t have to go to waste! Find five recipes that are easy and quick to save you time, money and get a delicious meal on the table, following a zero-waste policy. Be a hero in the kitchen and try them!

#1 Bread

Bread & Butter Pudding

240 million slices of bread are thrown in the bin every year. Unbelievable! Let’s fill our bellies instead of bins using the leftover bread to make this amazing bread and butter pudding. Too easy and to good to let it go to waste!

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (if you want to keep it vegan, use 2 tablespoons chia seeds that are soaked for 15 mins in 6 tablespoons of water)
  • 6-8 slices of bread
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter (if you want to keep it vegan, use dairy-free margarine)
  • 500-750 ml (dairy-free) milk of any kind you have left in the fridge.
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • 40 grams of chopped dates/raisins
  • 50 grams of jam (any of your taste)

Cooking method

Grease an oven proof dish. Cut the bread into triangles and spread butter/margarine no both sides. Layer half the bread triangles on the base of the dish. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of sugar over the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon and half of the dates/raisins.

Layer the rest of the bread over the top. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, and the remaining dates/raisins. Mix the egg/chia seed mixture with 500ml of milk. Gently pour the milk mixture over the bread. Set the pudding aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the milk.

Preheat your oven to 180⁰C.

Once the bread has had time to soak, if there is no milk left, gently tip over another 100-250ml depending on how much liquid was absorbed. The amount of liquid you will need will largely depend on the thickness of your bread. Sprinkle the top of the pudding with the remaining sugar and some more cinnamon. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pudding is just beginning to go slightly golden on top. Remove from the oven, gently spread jam over the top and then place back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Serve and indulge!

#2 Milk

Rice Pudding

When I was younger, I had to drink my glass of milk before going to school. It was supposed to make me strong and healthy and, according to the advertisement in that time, milk was “The White Engine”. Whatever all the opinions on that might be right now, milk remains the number #2 of most wasted food products. Every year we pour 5.9 million glasses of milk down the sink. Rice pudding is a classic example of the easiest, filling recipe you can make and drizzled with cinnamon or honey it makes up for the best plate of comfort food out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 liter of milk
  • 100 grams of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 95 grams of white rice
  • optional: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • optional: ground cinnamon
  • Optional: roasted nuts

Cooking method

In a large saucepan, combine about 80% of the milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in rice and reduce heat to low. Be sure to adjust the heat so that it is at a gentle simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook for 50 to 60 minutes. Mixture should thicken up to the consistency of yogurt. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla (optional).

Let cool and then refrigerate. The last bit of milk is stirred in just before serving. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. I like to sprinkle some roasted nuts on top, or whatever sweetener I have in my cupboard (raisins, berries, apple etc.)

#3 Potatoes

Potato Soup

5.8 million kilos of potatoes end up in the bin each year. So; before that happens, let’s make this delicious soup of it! Like I promised, it’s easy, fast and only requires a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 5 large potatoes
  • 2 green onions, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Water
  • 650 ml of milk (for the vegan version use any plant-based milk)

Cooking method

Peel and roughly chop potatoes. Discard tops and bottoms of green onions and mince the remaining pieces. Add potatoes and onions to a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Boil on high for 30 minutes, adding more water to the pot as needed, until potatoes as well cooked and soft. Remove pot from heat and drain the water over a strainer until it is just under the level of your cooked potatoes. Return any onions and basil the strainer catches to the pot.

Add the millk to the potatoes and mash until mostly smooth, leaving a few small chunks for a hearty texture. Add more milk, a dash at a time, until soup reaches your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste, don’t be shy and use a lot. Return pot to the stove and heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Serve garnished with additional green onions if desired.

#4 Cheese

Pasta Quattro Formaggi

First of all: cheese can last long! Probably longer than you think. Also: don’t be afraid of mould on cheese; you can scrape it off and use it for cooking anyway (disclaimer: I’m not a medical practitioner, this is just from my own experience). Remember; with cheese you can make an easy bechamel sauce, to pour over your cauliflower, or use in lasagna. This can be frozen, too, to preserve it for longer. Keeping it simple, I present to you a four-cheeses pasta, Italian style.

Ingredients

  • 1 package pasta (your choice)
  • 240 ml milk
  • 80 grams of soft cheese of your choice (mozzarella, ricotta)
  • 80 grams of blue cheese of your choice (gorgonzola, Danish blue)
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch white pepper
  • two types of grated cheese of your choice (parmigiano, pecorino,
  • Fine sea salt (to taste)

Cooking method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add whichever type of pasta you choose. tir, bring back to a boil and start timing according to your desired degree of doneness and instructions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat. Add the soft cheeses, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until they are melted and the mixture is homogeneous. Add the nutmeg and white pepper.About 1 minute before the pasta is done, remove it from heat and drain it. Transfer the drained pasta to a large skillet and stir in the milk-and-cheese mixture and the grated cheeses. Cook, shaking the pan continuously and vigorously until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is perfectly al dente and coated in the cheese sauce. Season to taste with fine sea salt.

Serve hot, with additional grated cheese for topping, if desired, and a green salad or vegetables.

#5 Apples

Easy Apple Sauce

1.3 million apples are thrown away. Every. Year. Staggering. And sucha shame for such a great product! Who doesn’t love the apple-break? Store them in a dry and cool place to keep them for longer. Another option is to make apple sauce to go with your vegetables. This is the simplest thing you’ll ever make, maximum outcome. I remember my mom always used to make her own apple sauce and whenever we had dinner guests over it would steal the show.

Ingredients

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
  • 180 ml water
  • 40 grams of sugar (use less or more to taste)
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Cooking method

Can you even call this a cooking method? It’s literally; putting everything in a saucepan, heat it over a medium heat for about 15 minutes and mash with a fork/potato masher. Enjoy!

DIY Environmental Heroïsm! This post will give you the best recipes with the least environmental exploitation, so you can sustainably eat your way to 2050. Be a true hero in the kitchen and try them!

 

The recipes in this post use the guidelines of the planetary health diet that was coined January this year by the Lancet Commission. The Lancet Commission is a group of over 30 scientist that published a report on how we can sustainably feed the estimated 10 billion people that inhabit the planet by 2050. The ideal way to cut greenhouse gas emission and sustain a healthy planet is to leave out animal products such as meat, dairy, fish and eggs as much as possible. Other things to take into account in filling your shopping basket in a sustainable way is to choose seasonal and local products.  More about this you can read in 16th March’ blog post: the Sustainable Future Diet.

 

The recipes represent some beautiful products which have a high score regarding environmental performance. The calculation of environmental performance considers: the use of fossil fuels, contribution to climate change (Co2- emission), land use and waterstress. Enjoy!

 

#1 Purple soup

 

The star of the show is the red cabbage, creating an amazing purple-coloured soup. Traditionally used in the Dutch cuisine as a side dish with apple and cloves to pair with mashed potato (we’re a simple people 😉 ), this time prepared as a fresh soup that requires very little ingredients and is easy to make! The vinegar brings out an amazing zinginess and the apple uplifts the soup with its fresh, sweet flavour. Don’t be afraid to use too much (preferably freshly crushed) black pepper!

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 1 red cabbage, roughly chopped. Grown on farmland in the Netherlands, energy-use for production is low. 
  • 1 large apple, cut in cubes. Apples, either from Argentina, Brazil or Chile, are grown on farmland and shipped per boat, to keep emissions low.
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 200 ml plant-based milk.  I used almond milk but oat- or soy milk will do too. Go for the unsweetened one. Almond milk scores low in kg emissions per 200 ml glass, and low in land use but relatively high in water use. Soy and oat milk have the lowest environmental impact. (Poore & Nemecek, 2018)
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 50 ml vinegar.   I used balsamic vinegar but apple cider vinegar does the job as well. Use what you have in your cupboard.
  • salt
  • black pepper
  •  2 tablespoons oil

Cooking method:

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cabbage. Add salt and pepper and keep stirring. Add the apple. Put the lid on for 3 minutes to let the ingredients soften. Add some more pepper. Next up we’ll add the liquids. Add vinegar and vegetable stock to the saucepan and stir until everything infuses. Then add the almond milk and stir. Now leave the lid on for another 15 minutes until the cabbage is soft. Depending on how small you cut the cabbage it will cook faster. Once the cabbage is soft, Use a blender or hand-held blender to blend everything. Optionally, add green leaves (cress works well) and a dash of almond milk to garnish. Enjoy!

#2 Sweet potato and dark, leafy green vegetable mash with vegan gravy and roasted hazelnuts

 

Another super easy, impossible-to-go-wrong, nutritious recipe. The gravy is incredibly flavoursome and together with the roasted nuts makes up for a full, hearty meal.

 

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 1 kg sweet potato. Sweet potato comes from the US. However, as it is grown on farmland and shipped by boat, the environmental footprint remains low.
  • 400 gr winter purslane/spinach/turnip tops. Pick the greens you like! Winter purslane and turnip tops aren’t your regular vegetables but that gives you all the more reason to try! In April they are in season in the Netherlands and they give an amazing nutty, fresh taste to your vegetable mash and have great health benefits.
  • 100 gr hazelnuts, roasted and chopped. Out of all the nuts the hazelnut and walnut are the most environmentally sustainable as they are sourced in Europe, from the Mediterranean area (Turkey, Spain, Italy) (Source: https://www.aboutnuts.com/nl/encyclopedie/hazelnoten/)
  • 200 ml almond milk. 
  • 50 gr plant-based margarine
  • 2 tablespoons oil

The gravy:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch/flour
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (smoked) paprikapowder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon corianderseed, crushed
  • ½  teaspoon curcuma
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Cooking method:

Roast the nuts in a dry pan over medium heat. Whirl them around until the skin darkens on all sides. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool down.

 

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks (Zero Waste Tip: wash the skin before you peel it and deep fry the peeled skins. Let cool until they are crispy and enjoy them as a pre-cooking snack!). Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot with plenty of water and some salt. Once the water is cooking, set the timer at 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, prepare the gravy by heating oil in a small saucepan. Add the finely cut garlic and onion and let the onion/garlic juices induce in the oil on low heat. Once the onion/garlic start changing color, add little bits of the water. Then, add the cornstarch/flour and stir well for about 3 minutes. The sauce will now thicken slowly. Add more water if it gets too thick, add more cornstarch if the sauce is too thin. Add the rest of the ingredients while stirring, until it has the desire thickness. Add more salt/pepper to taste.

 

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked (check with a fork), drain the pan and keep a little bit of the starchy cooking water aside. Add the margarine and almond milk to the drained sweet potatoes. Mash the potatoes. Add your greens while mashing the potatoes more. Add some of the starchy draining water until it has reached the desired creaminess. Heat on a low heat while stirring; once there are no more lumps of potato it’s finished. Serve, put the gravy on top, add the roasted nuts and optionally top with mustard. Enjoy!

 

#3 Cauliflower and tempeh curry

 

The cauliflower is a true hero: it’s so versatile and tastes great. Here’s an exotic curry to warm you up on the rainy days that might linger throughout April. Tempeh is a product made of fermented soy beans and serves as an amazing, nutritious, protein-rich alternative for meat. In this recipe the tempeh is marinated to perfection and with its crunchy bite it’s the best sidekick of the warming, soft and creamy cauliflower curry.

 

Ingredients (serves four):

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into roses. Produced in France on farmland and transported by truck which leaves a relatively low environmental footprint
  • 500 gr potato, cubed. 
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2×2 cm block ginger, finely diced
  • 200 gr tomato puree
  • 1 can coconut milk
  •  1 block (400gr) tempeh
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons currypowder
    • Make it yourself by mixing:2 tablespoons cumin2 tablespoons corianderseeds2 tablespoons curcumapowder

      1 ½ tablespoon cardemompowder

      ½ tablespoon cinnamon powder

      ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

      optional: ½ teaspoon chili powder

The marinade:

  • Soy sauce sweet
  • Soy sauce regular
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon agave/rice syrup. You can make your own sugar sirup by mixing 1 tablespoon of sugar with some water, and heating this in a saucepan on low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • chili flakes, add to taste

Cooking method:

Start with the marinade. Cut the tempeh in slices of about ½ cm thick. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together in a flat-surface tray or plate. put the tempeh in there and mix it around. Set aside in the fridge. Set it for at least 30 minutes. The longer you leave it, the better the flavours will marinade.

 

Heat oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Slowly let the base induce in the oil. Add the currypowder and stir well. If it sticks to the bottom of the pan, add little bits of water. Add the tomato puree and stir well. Now add the cauliflower and potato and stir until they are covered in the mix. Add the vegetable stock and the can of coconut milk. bring it to a boil and let it simmer on a low heat for about 30 minutes. All the vegetables should be covered in liquid. If not, add more water.

 

While the curry is simmering, take the tempeh out of the fridge. Heat oil in a frying pan. Wait until the oil is hot, then add the tempeh. Fry on both sides for a few minutes, until the marinade turns brown and the tempeh gets crunchy.

 

Once the curry is finished, serve it, put the tempeh on top and garnish with fresh koriander or any other fresh herbs, to taste. Enjoy!

 

#4 Key Lime Pie

 

We couldn’t leave the dessert out, of course. In April, the lime usually originates from Brazil, where the Brazilian sun worked it’s magic before it was shipped to Europe by boat which leaves the environmental footprint to remain low. We’ll use this lovely citrus fruit to make the soft filling that goes over the Lotus-cookie crust and together make an amazing key lime pie. All vegan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients (serves twelve):

Crust:

  • pack vegan biscuits. I used Lotus Biscoff biscuits because it has this ginger-cookie flavour which is the best.
  • 120 gram vegan butter, melted. 
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

Filling:

  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • Zest of 2 limes (unwaxed)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 220 ml almond milk
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons icing sugar

Optional, to garnish:

  • coconut flakes
  • lime zest

Cooking method:

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Start with the crust. Put the biscuits in the food processor. Slowly add the melted butter. Finally add the coconut oil. Take the mixture and put it in a greased, round baking tray, preferably with a loose bottom. Press evenly until it covers the entire tray. Put the tray in the middle of the over for about 12 minutes.

 

Warm the tin of coconut milk over a low heat in a saucepan. Add the juice and zest of 2 limes. Let it warm up over a very low heat, to let the flavours infuse gradually. In the meantime, mix the almond milk with the icing sugar in a container. Add the cornstarch and whisk it together until smooth. Add it to the saucepan and stir while it warms up. The cornstarch will thicken the mixture as it warms. Turn the heat off when it has reached the desired thickness.

 

Take the baking tray out of the oven. Add the mixture to the tray. Cover it with cling film, directly over the filling. Leave it to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Garnish with lime zest or coconut flakes. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  • Poore, J., Nemecek, T. (2018) Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science  01 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 987-992.
  • https://www.aboutnuts.com/nl/encyclopedie/hazelnuts/. Retrieved at 02/04/2019