Best-selling author, philanthropist, speaker, passionate sustainability advocate and local resident Sarah Wilson shares her top tips in reducing food waste (and a delicious whole of soup recipe).
Knowing how to not waste a skerrick of food is a life skill you want to have under your belt.
I wrote Simplicious Flow because I felt I had to address the stonkin’ fat elephant in the kitchen – food waste is killing the planet (if it were a country it would be the third largest CO2 emitter on the planet). I’ve pulled together a bunch of hacks that you can implement from today.
Challenge yourself to use up the oldest thing in your pantry
Don’t wait until your dried goods bread weevils. Use up the older box of rice before buying a new box of pasta. This is an easy way to use up what you’ve got, reducing trips to the shops, saving money and reducing waste!
Ditto with your fridge
Sweep through and use the odds and ends from your last shop that might be able to turn. I chop shrivelled herbs and place in an ice-cube tray, cover with olive oil and freeze. I use them to deglaze pans for a flavour boost.
Learn this hack to make your leafy greens last up to 2 weeks
This one works, promise. Wash your leafy greens and herbs, then roll up in a damp tea towel or pillowcase.
Use up your jar dregs
This is a fun sport – finding ways to extract the stuck bits of a spread or condiment from the awkward angles of a jar or bottle. Here’s a good one: in your almost finished mustard jar, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake the jar vigorously for a great salad dressing.
Use up the-whole-thing!
You can totally eat zucchini nubs, broccoli stalks, parsley stems and pumpkin seeds and skin. Here’s a recipe to do just that, and make a batch of amazing ginger puree in the process.
RECIPE: Do The Whole Pumpkin Soup
The fun and the nutrition in cooking is often found in the scraps we toss. Never more so than when you’re talking to me about pumpkins.
My Flow Fix
+ We cook a whole pumpkin – skin, flesh and seeds – in one hit and eat it all in the one meal. Nada wasted.
+ In fact, we cook the whole meal in one hit on a baking tray, caramelising everything (which creates the lushest flavour and texture) with less effort than bog-standard pumpkin soup.
+ Indeed, we get fully flow-y and make a bulk ginger purée while the oven is on (which again sidesteps all peeling and mincing annoyingness).
+ In the process: we don’t have to peel and mince the garlic and ginger. Yee-hah!
1.5 kg butternut pumpkin, roughly chopped, skin and seeds reserved
1 pear, quartered
2 onions, ends trimmed, skin left on, quartered
1 head garlic, broken into cloves, skin left on
4 cm knob of ginger , unpeeled
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked, plus 3 extra sprigs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200 g sliced prosciutto or pancetta
1 litre chicken stock
Plonk the pumpkin, pear, onion, garlic and ginger on a large baking tray, sprinkling the thyme leaves over. Drizzle with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and slightly charred.
Meanwhile, arrange the pumpkin skin on another large baking tray, ensuring none of the pieces overlap. Remove the larger stringy bits from the pumpkin seeds and place on the tray. Sprinkle over the spices and add the extra sprigs of thyme. Drizzle with a little olive oil (you want them barely coated to help make them crispy and not soggy) and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bake on the top rack for 15 minutes. Add the prosciutto or pancetta to the tray and bake for a further 5–10 minutes, until everything is well toasted and crisp.
Once the veggies are tender, allow to cool slightly. Remove the skins from the onion and garlic (just squeeze the cloves to pop them out). Transfer the whole tray of roast veg to a large saucepan (just tip the lot in). Add the stock and 1 cup (250 ml) water. Blitz with a stick blender until smooth, adding a little more water if you want to thin it out. Heat the soup over medium–high heat until warmed through. Ladle into bowls and top with the roasted pumpkin seeds and crumbled prosciutto or pancetta. Serve with the crispy pumpkin skin and a creamy dip on the side.
Easy seed-scooping tip:
Use a soup spoon to scoop out the seeds, scraping against the pumpkin flesh. Make sure you get all the wet, slimy, stringy bits, leaving the pumpkin flesh dry.
Thin skin alert!
Peel the skin as thinly as possible to ensure a crispier cracker. Use a sharp vegetable peeler if you like.
Ginger - mince it!
You can actually buy a whole bunch of knobs and cook the puree in bulk.
Mincing ginger is a major flow killer – the peeling, the grating or chopping – all for a miserly amount. No wonder whole knobs of the stuff go off on benches around the country.
So while the oven is on, bang a big batch of ginger knobs (unpeeled) in the oven for 45 minutes. Blitz in a high-powered blender, skin and all, until smooth. Freeze the purée in an ice-cube tray in 1-teaspoon serves, then transfer to a jar. The purée will last for up to 3 months in the freezer.