Food Recycling is Fun (and economic, and responsible, and environmentally conscientious, etc…)

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I don’t cook every day. I cook about twice a week, enough for 3-4 days. Sometimes, when I have time, I decide on a cooking day. I make many different dishes, divide them into family size containers, and freeze them. This saves my life when I’m super busy, and don’t have time to cook.

Once a week, I go over the food in the fridge and pantry to check on the food situation in the house. This way I make sure that, God forbid, we do not run out of food (not that we are even close to being in such danger with the amount of food I keep in the house). In fact, our pantry is so well stocked that we are prepared for the hurricane season all year round.

fridge-cleaning

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Sometimes, though, the fridge seems to be filled with food, but when I start opening containers, most of them are almost empty (some are totally empty!!! Oh, these kids…). Most of what I find are leftovers that are not enough for a whole meal. I also come across fruit or veggies that nobody wants to eat anymore, because they are overripe or wrinkled. I love when that happens, because that gives me the opportunity to wrack my brain, be creative, and somehow turn all these leftovers into something yummy. It’s like being on one of those TV cooking shows; only I don’t have to compete with anyone 🙂

Usually, we lick our fingers with pleasure and deplore the fact that it was a one-time dish that we can’t easily recreate. But every once in a while I mess up, and either I end up eating it all myself (throwing away perfectly good food is a big NO!), or if it’s really horrible, I bid it farewell and reluctantly dump it in the garbage can, while thinking of all the hungry kids around the world who would not be as picky as I am and enjoy every bite. Ok…maybe they wouldn’t.

When you wonder what you can make out of leftovers, think soup, omelet, or a mish-mash stew. Then it becomes easy. All you really have to do is throw some leftovers together in a pot or pan, and add a little twist to create something new. I know, I know, It’s easy when you know what to do…

So what kind of leftovers are we talking about? Anything from rice, potatoes, pasta and other starches, to cooked fish, meats, chicken, and cold cuts. Vegetables, raw and cooked, are always good candidates for recycled food. Even overripe fruit, whole or cut, can be used creatively.

To get in the groove, understand the possibilities, and get some ideas, here is a fun, easy recipe, using the discarded ends of the zucchini. I learned this recipe over Thanksgiving weekend, from my mother-in-law who is a great cook.

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Zucchini Ends in Garlic

2- 3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 fillet of anchovy (optional)
20 zucchini ends (bottom part only) cut in half
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan. Mince the garlic and add to the oil. Sautee until garlic is starting to turn golden. The original recipe (the one I got from my MIL) also calls for 1 fillet of anchovy to be added with the garlic, but since I ran out of anchovies, I used some salt instead.

Add the zucchini, salt (if you did not use anchovy) and pepper, and sautee for 1 minute.

Lower the heat to low and sautee the zucchini until cooked but not mushy, and the garlic is fried and crunchy.

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Eat it as a side dish or add to a good Caesar salad instead of croutons.

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For other trash to treasure recipes, check out the following recipes:
Kompot
Easy Japanese dinner
Beef croquettes – Leftover version

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