Who has leftover Christmas vegetables to use up? We always tend to have leftover braised red cabbage and roasted parsnips, carrots and sprouts. What about you? What are your most common festive leftovers? And what are you favourite ways to use them up? This year we are making a very quick and easy cous cous salad with our leftovers. The sweet and warm spices in the braised red cabbage go perfectly with cous cous. We eat this as a simple lunch topped with salty olives or feta. But it is also nice as a side to a jammy tomato, onion and chickpea stew. This recipe is very flexible, so please take the amounts and ingredients suggested below as a rough guide and just use up what you have. If you have any uncooked cabbage or carrots around still, try shredding and adding them raw for extra crunch and much needed freshness. Share your best leftover ideas in the comments.
Ingredients (serves 4 or 8 as sides)
1 mug (250ml volume) cous cous
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 mug (250ml) hot liquid (try the juice of a clementine topped up with just-boiled water from the kettle)
a handful of almonds (or any nuts or seeds), chopped
leftover braised red cabbage, roasted carrots, parsnips and sprouts
optional feta, olives or chickpeas to serve
In a heatproof bowl, stir the cous cous with the bouillon powder. Then pour in the hot water and clementine juice, give it another quick stir and place a plate over the bowl to let the cous cous soak up all the liquid.
Meanwhile chop the nuts and gather your festive leftovers.
Fluff up the cous cous with a fork then stir through the vegetables and nuts. Enjoy as it is or serve with feta, olives or chickpeas for extra oomph!
I saw these pop up on the fabulous Tabitha Brown’s Instagram months ago and haven’t been able to get them out of my head since. So when we finished a jar of pickles the other day I knew exactly what I was going to make. My yolk recipe is quite different (more of a European version than her American one I guess?) but all credit to @iamtabithabrown for the genius idea. These are such fun little retro canapés or as an Easter starter. Give my version a try and let me know what you think. Liz x
a jar of pickle liquor left after eating the pickled cucumbers
small mushrooms – white is best for the look of the dish but chestnut mushrooms work fine too – enough to fill the jar
Clean the mushrooms with a paper towel or pastry brush. Then pull out the stalks and peel them (like in the picture above). Keep the stalks and peels, do not throw them away! They are great crumbled up and sautéed as a base for a lentil pie or a soup or in tofu scramble.
Put the peeled mushrooms in the jar of leftover pickle juice. Give the jar a gentle shake and put it in the fridge. Every time you open the fridge, turn the jar the other way up so that the mushrooms all get an even soak in the juice. Leave them to soak and lightly pickle overnight.
Then just before you are ready to serve, make the yolky filling. Drain a can of chickpeas (reserve the aquafaba to make mayonnaise or a clafoutis?) and put them in a food processor or blender.
Add the black salt (this tastes like egg, if you don’t have it then regular salt is fine), pepper, turmeric, mayo, tomato puree/ketchup and mustard in the blender too. Then blend until smooth. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning if needed. You may need more mayonnaise or salt? The mixture should be thick but pipeable.
Put the mushrooms out onto a platter and put the ‘yolk’ mixture into a piping bag with the star shaped nozzle attached. Pipe a generous amount of the mixture into each mushroom.
Sprinkle the devilled eggs with smoked paprika and dill or whatever you like (chilli powder, tabasco, shopped scallions, parsley, chives, capers…) and enjoy them cold and fresh.
When we think of food waste, throwing out a wobbly carrot or a bruised apple, we usually just think of it as a waste of a few cents. But food waste is actually one of the largest contributors to climate change. Growing, processing and transporting food uses significant resources, so if food is wasted then those resources are wasted too. It is estimated that globally, around 1.4 billion hectares of land is used to grow food which is then wasted. That’s a lot of land that could be returned to the wild and a lot of wasted food emitting methane as it rots. If food waste was a country, it would be the 3rd biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
An excellent article on the subject of food waste has just recently been published in the Irish Times. Read it here. The article was sponsored by the brilliant initiative, Food Cloud which redistributes food waste in Ireland to those in need. Please do check them out and see how you can get involved.
I’ve been asking you for your food waste prevention tips and tricks over the last few weeks (thank you for those – can you spot your tips below?) and after collecting them all I’ve realised that they boil down to 5 main themes.
1. Plan & Prepare
Write a menu for the week before shopping and only buy what you need. Or if you get a weekly veg box delivered then write a menu as you unpack the box and stick it on your fridge.
Plan to use up delicate ingredients with a shorter shelf life first. Things like salads, herbs and greens first, save the hardier root vegetables for later in the week.
Before you buy even more fresh food, shop from your own fridge, freezer and pantry. How many more meals can you make with what you already have? Delay the next shop as long as possible.
If you know you don’t have much time for cooking, spend some time meal prepping:
Cook batches of soups/stews/bakes, freeze them in portions to be taken out when you need them.
Make yourself a sort of ‘fridge buffet’ which you can dip into for lunches – separate boxes of cooked grains, roasted veg, dips, dressings – for food safety, only do 3 days worth at a time.
Pre-wash and chop all the veg you need for your menu so that when you come to cook it’s much quicker. But be careful doing this kind of prep as chopped veg doesn’t last as long as whole. Only do this 3 days in advance maximum.
Learn how best to store different fruits, herbs and vegetables so that they stay fresh longer.
Should they be in the fridge or in a dark cupboard or a fruit bowl? Do they need to be in water to stay fresh longer? Are they better in or out of their packaging? Is it better to store them muddy or clean?
Always rotate! Put new ingredients behind older ones and use up the old ingredients first.
If you don’t eat a lot of bread, store sliced bread in the freezer and just take out a few slices at a time when you need it.
3. Eat ‘Root to Shoot’
Think to yourself, ‘does this really need to be peeled?’. Probably not. Especially if you are using our organic produce. Also, by not peeling you get the maximum nutrition and fibre out of the veg.
Question which parts of the vegetables you are discarding. Cauliflower and broccoli leaves and stalks are all edible and delicious. Carrot tops are a brilliant parsley-like herb substitute. Beetroot leaves can be eaten like chard. Mushroom stalks are edible. The core of cabbages can be finely sliced and added to stir fries. The dark green tops of leeks and spring onions are edible…
Any clean peelings and offcuts you do have can be collected in a box in the freezer. When you have enough to fill your largest pot, you can simmer them in water to make a tasty and nutritious stock.
4. Love Your Leftovers
Have a strict rule that any leftovers from dinner must be eaten for lunch the next day (or frozen for another meal).
Find imaginative ways to repurpose your leftovers into another meal. Can it be turned into a soup or a curry or a pasta sauce? Can it be baked into a pie or a frittata? Would it be nice in a wrap or a sandwich? Can it be bulked out with some more fresh veg and simply eaten again?
Make croutons or breadcrumbs with stale bread or the bread ends you would otherwise throw out.
5. Preserve Any Excess
If you have a glut of a certain fruit or vegetable, find out the best way to preserve it:
Make chutney, jam or pickles? There are endless recipes online for inventive ways to make delicious jars of tangy chutneys and pickles and sweet jams.
Lacto-ferment? Using just salt and a little know-how, transform your unused cabbages into sauerkraut or kimchi or your cucumber into sour dills. Any vegetable can be fermented.
Freeze? Find out the best way to freeze your excess. Does it need blanching first?
Dry? Use a low oven or a dehydrator to dry out excess fruit or veg. Then rehydrate it when you need it (garlic, mushrooms, carrot slices…), eat it dry as a snack (apple rings, mango, kale crisps…) or blitz into powder and make your own bouillon (celery, onion, garlic, carrot, herbs, mushrooms…).
Please tell us how you avoid food waste in the comments. We’d love to share these top tips with our community. Liz x
Food waste is a huge environmental problem all year round, but over Christmas, it seems we throw out about 30% more than usual. According to Stop Food Waste, here in Ireland we generate at least 1.27 million tonnes of food waste each year! Food waste is one of the largest contributors to climate change. Growing, processing and transporting food uses significant resources. And so if food is wasted, then of course these resources are wasted too.
Globally, around 1.4 billion hectares of land is used to grow food which is then wasted. That’s a lot of land that could be returned to the wild. While some food waste is anaerobically digested to make biogas, composted, or rendered for animal food, a lot of the food waste produced is still going to landfill where it doesn’t just harmlessly break down, but it emits methane, a gas 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. According to Project Drawdown, an international group of experts, reducing food waste is the 3rd most effective action we can take to reverse climate change.
Home composting is a great solution if you have the space, but you should only compost uncooked vegetables (known as green matter) along with brown matter like tea leaves, coffee grounds, shredded card/paper, tree leaves etc – successful compost has a balance of brown and green matter and is incredibly beneficial to your soil health. Cooked food waste should not go into your home compost as typical home composters don’t get hot enough to safely break down the food and it also attracts rodents. Put your cooked food waste in a council provided food waste bin where it will be taken to a commercial compost site to be anaerobically digested. Or better yet, don’t waste the food at all! Try to use up your cooked food waste in inventive dishes and show your leftovers some love!
Here are a couple of recipes to get you started. Please ask questions and share your favourite Christmas leftover meal ideas in the comments too and have a waste-free feast! Let me know if you made these leftover-loving meals and tag us on Instagram or share your meal on our Facebook page. We love to see what you are cooking! Liz x
A farinata is a bit like a frittata but made with chickpea flour batter instead of eggs. Simply whisk together one part chickpea flour (also known as gram flour) with one part warm water (I like to thin it out with an extra splash of water too), season the batter really well with salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. Then let it rest while you pre-heat the oven and prepare a roasting dish with your leftover Christmas vegetables.
Put a little olive oil into the base of the dish, then chop up whatever leftover veg you have from your roast. Potatoes, parsnips, beetroot, red cabbage, squash, sprouts… pop them into the roasting dish then pour over the chickpea flour batter.
Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the farinata and crack over some black pepper. You could also add some crumbled tofeta (I used the leftover bit from making my cranberry and tofeta cigars) or other odds and ends of Christmas cheeses. Then put the dish into a hot oven (200C) and bake it until the batter is set. The time depends on how big or deep your dish is, just keep an eye on it. It’s done when it’s golden brown on top and with minimal wobble.
Allow it to settle for a few minutes out of the oven and then ease it away from the sides of the dish with a palette knife or spatula. Slice it into portions and eat it hot or cold with salads, ferments, dips and chutneys or sauces to your liking. Enjoy!
Swedish-style Stuffing Balls
Leftover stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce? Make my Swedish style meatballs dish, it’s delicious. Swedish meatballs are typically served with boiled or mashed potatoes, a rich, creamy gravy, lingonberry jam (cranberry sauce is a brilliant substitute) and steamed greens. It’s a hearty and satisfying winter dish so I tend to make this rather than Italian style meatballs with leftover stuffing from our Sunday Roasts, or in this case Christmas Dinner, in winter.
Get some potatoes on to boil for mash and some greens ready for steaming or wilting.
Then simply squish your stuffing together into little balls (if it’s gone dry add a splash of stock, if it’s too wet add some oats or breadcrumbs) and fry them in a large pan with some melted butter and olive oil. Turn them regularly with tongs to get them browning on all sides.
Keep the stuffing balls warm in a dish in the oven while you finish making the mashed potatoes, steam some greens and heat up and enrich your leftover gravy.
Heat up your leftover gravy with a splash of water, then when it’s nice and hot enrich it with a generous splash of oat/soy cream. Gently bring it back up to heat, but don’t let it boil. Then taste it for seasoning and adjust it if needed with more salt/pepper.
Serve the stuffing balls with mashed potatoes, creamy gravy, steamed greens and a big dollop of cranberry sauce on the side.