Nov 222010

I hate throwing out food. Especially super fresh food. I understand sometimes recipes go awry or life just gets the better of us and the leftovers are forgotten, but if at all avoidable, I do not like throwing out food. I’ve been known to cry over a half-pint of moldy raspberries.

Maybe I’m too much of a softie. I’m not entirely sure whether it’s more sadness regarding the state of world hunger and I’ve let this food end up in the waste basket, or I’m sorry to see a batch of perfectly good berries meet their demise in my trash can rather than my belly. To be perfectly honest, I think it’s a combination of the two.

I’m in the middle of reading “World Hunger: Twelve Myths” by Frances Moore Lappe and concurrently “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. Ideas from both now pervade my daily thought, though the seedlings of related ideas were planted in my head years earlier. Since my awareness of the environment in mid-teen years, I haven’t been able to leave a restaurant without asking to wrap the portion still on my plate with the intentions of eating its contents later.  Even now, that line of thinking still prevails and seeing food wasted, especially a vibrant piece of produce, saddens me.

With this in mind, I made another trip to the Tompkins Square greenmarket to pick up a select few items to be used in dishes this week.  I’m heading back to Long Island on Thursday for Thanksgiving at my parents’ house, so I’ll only be cooking for a couple days.  I definitely had to restrain myself from buying too many goodies.

A packet of recipes distributed by GrowNYC were available for the taking, and I certainly snatched one up.  With a fresh head of NY red cabbage and a just-picked gala apple, I whipped up this Warm Cabbage and Apple salad. Very easy really, and wow, quite a bit of depth. A dab of oil and 4 cups raw cabbage in a pot for ten minutes, toss in a matchstick-sliced apple, a small shallot (minced), red wine vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper combine to make an amalgamation of flavor. I wasn’t too sure how it’d turn out, but I was quite happy.

It doesn’t look nearly as pretty photographed as it tasted.  And I’d like to point out that the apple looks pink, not because the cabbage juice simply bled, but the anthocyanins in the cabbage leaf are a pH indicator.  Both the vinegar tossed in and the apple itself are acidic, leading to a pink salad.  Throw on some baking soda and it’d be blue, or Cascade detergent and it’d be yellow, or better yet, some ammonia would make it green.  Of course, this was a time for eating, not elementary school science experiments with cabbage juice.

Yesterday evening, served alongside the cabbage dish, I transported some freshly dug tubers into a sweet-potato-homefry mix with cippolini onions also from the market. I had to resist picking up the onions that were growing their own shoots and opt for ones that were ready to be cooked.

A tasty veggie-filled evening.  Tonight, I continued the trend with a tasty blend of store-bought Earthbound Farms organic baby spinach leaves with Greenmarket mesclun mix, tossed with a lemon & white balsamic vinaigrette.

And, here comes the “waste not” part: Pita Nachos. As it turns out, the idea isn’t all that original as a quick Googling once my creation was in the oven proved others had come up with the same idea, Martha Stewart included.

I had pita bread in the fridge from last week’s grocery store run that was on its way out, when I was suddenly inspired to cut the remaining rounds into little triangles and freeze them over the weekend to prevent them from going moldy.  I had concocted this idea to soak and then boil up some black beans with garlic, use up the rest of the grape tomatoes in the fridge that were beginning to shrivel up a bit and would taste divine once roasted, open up a block of extra sharp cheddar and dice up an avocado to make some tasty, healthy(er) nachos.  Tonight, I did just that… (and added in a shaving of leftover shallot from Sunday) and boy, were they tasty and full of freshness.

Super simple. Super delicious.  Now that the older food is used up and all I have left is just what I need for Tuesday and Wednesday, I can go enjoy a happy Thanksgiving knowing my fridge is empty and food was not wasted.

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