Waste Not, Want Not

May 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been so busy at work lately that by the time I get home I’m barely even hungry, and certainly not in the mood to cook. This has resulted in slight weight loss (hooray!) but also a fridge full of spoiling food (no hooray).

I’ve been so excited about spring food, that I’ve been stocking up on ramps, asparagus, rhubarb, spring onions, and all kinds of greens… and watching them start to go all yellow and limp is breaking my heart.  So, in an effort to use everything in my fridge in one go, I’ve come up with a few delicious solutions.

Way to use up everything in your kitchen #1: Put in on Pasta.

Fairly obvious, but pasta dishes have become my favorite way to use up bits of food lying around the house lately.  A lovely fresh, whole wheat pasta (mine are from Smith Meadows Farm in VA) is the perfect canvas for any number of flavor combinations.  It’s also a fun way to come up with new recipe, because you are forced to use everything you’ve got instead of going out and buying every ingredient you need at a moments notice (which is also super expensive).   Force yourself to put things together that you’ve never tried before. Especially if they are all in season, chances are the flavors will blend nicely.

My favorite seasonal pasta of the week- Ramps, Mushrooms, and Asparagus with Goat Cheese over Lemon Verbena Pasta.  I ate it 3 times and I still have over a pound of ramps in the fridge (I told you I got excited!).

Way to use up everything in your kitchen #2: Freeze, Pickle or Puree.

Bought too much asparagus? Cut it up and freeze it for an Asparagus Quiche later in the summer.  Caught ramp fever (like me)?  Saute the greens as a side dish, and pickle the bulbs and stems for a tangy bite in sandwiches all season long (i’m planning on doing this myself this weekend, stay tuned for a how-to.)

This afternoon I realized I still had a pound of spicy lettuces that a farmer had given me at the end of market a couple weeks ago (You know they are fresh when they hold that long! ).  I couldn’t think of a thing to do with them, since they were really too spicy to eat as salad greens, and it’s just too damn hot today to turn the stove on to saute.

And suddenly it hit me like a horseradish- Chimichurri!  Two and half  years ago, I spent 5 weeks wandering around South America by myself, and fell head over heels for the pesto-like spicy concoctions that were often served at restaurants in Argentina.  They were always slightly different, so it didn’t seem to matter which herbs or greens were used, so long as there was a good hit of garlic and oil.

So into the Cuisinart my spicy greens went, with a few cloves of garlic, a good dash of salt, and several big glugs of olive oil. Press play and presto! A pungent, peppery bright green spread just begging for a grass-fed skirt steak seared rare on the grill.  In an instant I was back in Buenos Aires feeling the heat from a smoking parilla, my mouth watering for the full-bodied malbec and plates of morcilla, the blood sausage I became so unexpectedly fond of.

Back in my kitchen in DC, the chimichurri went into the freezer for now, having no skirt steak to speak of just yet, but making a mental note to pick one up from EcoFriendly Foods at the market tomorrow.

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