This year is definitely going to be all about throwing very little waste away! Trending in 2016 is the ‘root-to-stem-dining’ concept wherein chefs all over the world are using everything from the tender stems and leaves to flowers and what not of the vegetables.
You can use these so-called veggie trashes in almost every kind of preparation – soups/stews, salads, sauces, sautés, roasts, side dishes, pickles, garnishes and even desserts. However, the simplest strategy to use the veggie wastes has to be the super flavourful yet exceptional ‘vegetable stock’ that you can make with them. Just simmer them in water alongwith the basic ingredients that you use. Once the stock is done, use it in the preparation of other dishes like you do and experience the burst of flavours – trust me, it is going to be on another level! Your homemade vegetable stock can easily become the star for any dish!
Besides this, here is a list of my top picks of wonderful wastes. Read on…
Stems and stalks – Awesome pickles with asparagus and cauliflower, healthy smoothies, juices and soups with celery and candied fennel stalks. Did you know that you can even substitute the simple syrup in drinks with fennel stalk syrup?
Greens – Add these tender greens/leaves in salads for the ultimate freshness – beet, radish, broccoli, cauliflower and leek.
Young tops – Blanch tender carrot tops with the leaves and use in sautés, salads, stir-fries, pestos and smoothies. The onion tops can be chopped and added to mashed potatoes with herbs for a great sidey. Needless to say, both can also be used as pretty garnishes!
Others – Don’t throw away the jackfruit cores. Instead, use them with the flesh to make a spicy kathal ki sabzi or just grill them on a barbecue. Roast watermelon seeds, season and use as a crunchy nutritious snack. And then lemon and orange peel zests have always played their part in making a dessert classy!
P.S. – Talking of discards becoming delicacies, Indian cuisine has always had this technique, especially with the Bengalis. Like the omnipresence of the entire banana plant in their culture. Read mochar ghonto – an earthy preparation made of tender banana flowers (not exactly a waste!) with Bengali spices and thorer ghonto – a similar preparation with the banana pith/plantain stem (now that’s definitely a waste!). These are just two, while the list is endless!
I can tell you with my personal experiences that these arty people somehow have a knack to use the wastes. Amongst the popular ones, the variety of preps that they come up with, even with the peels/skins of veggies is something quite unbelievable – that is, until I tasted them! Everything from the unusual pumpkin, bottle gourd and green banana peels to the usual potato peels get used. They are simple, subtle yet unique in their own way!
As someone rightly said, ‘Rather than preaching about wastefulness, why not start with the satisfaction of good cooking?’ True that.
So, get onto the bandwagon and make this as your practice for it does all good, and no harm! And share your favourite recipes, tips and tricks on how to master cooking with wastes.