Dianne has all sorts of tricks up her sleeve for reducing food waste in the kitchen! Here are some creative ways to use veggies that have been sitting in your fridge a bit too long, or tips for using wilted fruit from the fruit bowl!
Roasted Carrots With Carrot Top Pesto
Carrots are a tasty, crisp, versatile vegetable. They can be used as a vegetable side, as a soup base, or as an addition to a salad or stir-fry. They are readily available, can be grown here in Ontario, and are fairly inexpensive. Don’t forget – they are an excellent source of Vitamin A! Roasting the carrots brings out the natural, sweet flavour, and is super easy!
3 lbs. small, fresh carrots with tops (careful not to throw the tops away…we are using them!)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (I use avocado or grapeseed oil)
Freshly ground pepper
It may be cheaper to purchase the carrots with the tops, but don’t throw the tops out! When you harvest the carrots from the garden, or bring them home from the store, cut off the tops and make this easy pesto. The pesto can garnish a soup, or bring flavour to a pasta dish.
1 clove peeled garlic, roughly chopped
¼ cup pine nuts or macadamia nuts
½ cup fresh, packed basil leaves
2 cups fresh carrot tops
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Separate tops from carrots, leaving an inch or so of stem. Scrub the carrots well, then thoroughly wash the green tops. Spread them on a clean towel to dry.
Toss the carrots with the oil on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. (If carrots are larger, I parboil them first)
Roast until the carrots are caramelized and just fork tender. Allow them to cool. These carrots are featured in our Breakfast Lentils! (see recipe below)
Pulse garlic and nuts into a rough paste. Add the basil, lemon zest, carrot tops, and cheese and pulse until puréed. Add lemon juice and olive oil and pulse until mixture is thick and still just a bit chunky. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
If a looser paste is desired, add a little more olive oil or water, a teaspoon at a time.
Store in an airtight container. If freezing, drizzle with a little olive oil so the top is covered. This will keep the basil from turning black.
Toss the carrots with some of the pesto and serve warmed, chilled or at room temperature.
The pesto can be used with pasta, pizza, or in salads. We used in as a garnish in our carrot soup! (See recipe below)
Creamy Carrot Soup
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion
few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. grated ginger (optional)
6 medium-sized carrots, washed and peeled
1 liter of vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper
¼ cup 18 % or heavy cream
In a heavy saucepan, heat oil and butter. Add onions and sauté until transparent. Add carrots, herbs, vegetable stock, a little salt and pepper.
Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to just above a simmer and cook until the carrots are very tender.
Remove the herbs and purée the mixture until smooth in a blender or using an immersion blender.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Add cream and stir to blend.
Soup is delicious garnished with a dollop of sour cream and/or the carrot top pesto.
P.S. If a velvety smooth texture is desired, strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer.
Lentils are inexpensive, non-perishable, and a great addition to your pantry. Whether you buy them dry or canned, they are a great source of protein and low in fat. Leftover lentils can be used in soups or salads.
1 cup lentils (I used sprouted lentils, but any of the firmer varieties will do)
3 cups water or stock
1 diced onion
1 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
4 or 5 cups fresh mixed vegetables, diced and/or grated (this is a great way to use vegetables that may be going soft in your fridge…don’t throw them out!)
salt and pepper
Rinse lentils and add to the water in a medium saucepan with a little salt.
Bring to a boil and cook until the lentils are just tender. Drain.
While lentils are cooking, sauté the vegetables in a pan, starting with the firmest.
Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper as you add each one.
When the vegetables are tender-crisp, add the cooked lentils and toss. Season to taste. (I tried the pesto on this, too, and really liked it!)
Top with a poached egg, if desired and enjoy.
The mixture keeps well and can easily be reheated for another breakfast or two.
My Version of Panzanella Salad
This is a great way to use your bread before it gets too stale. This salad would make a great addition to a picnic or pot luck. Throw in any vegetables you have to use up that may be getting too soft in your fridge.
4 cups good quality bread, cut into ½ inch cubes and tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and toasted in a 350 degree oven until crisp on the outside, but still tender on the inside.
1 tbsp. pesto or ¼ cup basil leaves, torn (use both if you like)
6 seeded and chopped Roma tomatoes or 2 cups of whatever fresh, ripe tomatoes you have in your garden
1 medium English cucumber cubed, (if you use garden
cucumbers, remove the seeds in the middle, and some of the peel.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
In a salad bowl, marinate the bocconcini with the pesto.
Place the tomatoes and cucumber in a strainer, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set over the salad bowl so the juices drain into the bowl.
Assemble the vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined or place the ingredients in a mason jar with a plastic lid and shake well. Taste and adjust.
Pour a little of the dressing over the onions and let stand for a few minutes. TIP: Marinate the onions in leftover pickle juice for added flavour…and to reduce waste!
Assembly: Add the tomatoes and cucumbers to the cheese. Add onions and bread cubes, and enough dressing to coat the ingredients. Tear up the basil and add to the mixture, if desired.
Allow the salad to sit for a few minutes for the bread to absorb the juices.
Serve and enjoy.
P.S. If you want to add greens to the salad, try arugula or spinach.
Greek Yogurt Dip or Topping for Fruit
2 cups of good Greek Yogurt (I use 4% fat)
1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest
2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
Mix ingredients together. Keeps in the fridge for about a week.
Adjust the sweetness according to your own tastes. We used this dip as a topping for some baked apricot and plum halves. YUM!