Food waste reduction is having a bit of a moment right now, and so it should given that it makes sense for environmental and financial reasons. When you’re paying top-dollar for grass-fed beef and organic carrots, it almost seems like an insult to both the farmer and your wallet to throw out even a single ounce of it. Authors of The Zero Waste Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Cooking without Waste (Hardie Grant; $19.99), Giovanna Torrico and Amelia Wasiliev, have taken this challenge seriously. Not only have they found uses for obvious examples like carrot tops and pumpkin seeds, but also ingenious ways to make use of leftover oatmeal and grapefruit rinds. The book is divided into chapters around the main categories of food waste (vegetables, fruit, dairy and eggs, meat and seafood, bread and pulses, and leftovers), with both full recipes and smaller round-ups of ideas. If you’re like me, you probably don’t have a lot of meat or bread waste (stock and breadcrumbs are the obvious answer here), so I found the vegetable and fruit chapters the most eye-opening. Did you know you can eat broad bean pods? (I did not.)
One thing that’s always filling my compost bin is kale stems, so I was quite pleased to find something to do with them. The recipe for Steamed Kale Stems with Chilli is quite straightforward: they’re wrapped in parchment with sliced red chili, grated ginger and some butter, then steamed for about 10 minutes. The resulting stalks are surprisingly edible, with a texture similar to broccoli stems, although you might still have to trim off the extra-woody bits. But overall, success!
What I loved most about this book is that the recipes don’t require you to hoard scraps for weeks to have enough to make them. The Pink Grapefruit Rind Curd uses the scraps from just one grapefruit, and the Carrot Pulp Cake is made from the leftovers of juicing three carrots. And that makes The Zero Waste Cookbook a great investment that will easily recoup its cover price on your next visit to the farmer’s market.
Wendy Underwood tests out cookbooks weekly on Instagram at @kitchenvscookbook.
Excerpted from The Zero Waste Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Cooking without Waste © 2019 by Giovanna Torrico and Amelia Wasiliev, photographs by Deirdre Rooney. Reproduced by permission of Hardie Grant. All rights reserved.
Pink Grapefruit Rind Curd
Makes 325 ml (1 ¼ fl oz/1⅓ cups)
Prep 5 mins
Cook 35 mins
1 pink grapefruit scraps (use strips of the rind or remaining halves if the grapefruit has been juiced)
2 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
120 g (4 oz/generous ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
80 g (3 oz) unsalted butter
Place the grapefruit halves or strips of zest in a small saucepan with 240 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) water. Cover and bring to the boil. Lower the heat so that the liquid gently simmers for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and check the water level – you want to be left with about 120 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup). If you have too much, keep simmering for a few minutes with the lid off to reduce further. Turn off the heat and keep covered, allowing the flavour to intensify as it cools. Strain and reserve 120 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the liquid.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and yolks and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Add the butter along with the reserved liquid. Continue to whisk until thickened. Strain into a sterilised jar. The curd with keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Steamed Kale Stems with Chilli
Serves 2 as a side
Prep 5 mins
Cook 10 mins
6-8 kale stems, cut in half
10 g (½ oz) butter
1 small red chilli, finely sliced
1 tsp grated ginger
Prepare a steamer and bring the water to the boil. Meanwhile, lay the kale stems on an A4 sheet of baking parchment. Top with the butter, chilli and ginger. Fold the paper over and twist the sides to enclose. Place the pouch in the steamer and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until tender.
Shellfish Scrap Bisque
Prep 5 mins
Cook1 hr 15 mins
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100 g (3½ oz) mixed vegetable scraps
(onion, celery, carrot, parsley)
100 g (3½ oz) chopped tomatoes
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) mixed crustacean shells and heads (prawns/shrimp,lobsters, mussels or clams)
80 ml (2½ fl oz/generous ⅓ cup) dry white wine
Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the vegetable scraps and tomatoes for about 5 minutes. Add the shells and heads and cook for 5 minutes, using a spoon to press down on them to release their juices. Add the wine and let it bubble over high heat until the alcohol evaporates, then pour in 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) water to cover the fish. Cover with the lid and cook for 1 hour. Blitz the soup to a purée using a hand-held blender or in a food processor, then press through a sieve into a bowl. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and keep in the fridge for a day or freeze for up to 1 month.