Friday, August 8, 2008

...all to not waste...

Have you ever wanted really badly not to waste some sort of food item, only to use a lot more ingredients and realize it actually would've been cheaper in the long run to let the original ingredient go bad? I first learned this with canned pumpkin. My favorite pumpkin cookie recipe requires 1 cup of packed canned pumpkin. A can of pumpkin has just under 2 cups in it. What does one do with 1/2 can of pumpkin? I don't know either, so I double the recipe to avoid throwing away a perfectly good can of pumpkin. Instead of wasting 1/2 can of a $.99 can of pumpkin (or worse yet, SAVING it, only to have it get lost in the fridge and resurface months later as a science experiment), I use twice as much flour and sugar and oil to create well over 100 pumpkin cookies. Even teachers won't eat 100 pumpkin cookies before they get stale, so if I have to throw any away, I've now wasted ALL of the ingredients and my time.

Enter the head of broccoli. I bought a head of broccoli at the grocery store last week, and knew I needed to use it up. I wanted to use it in a main course, because it would take us a week to eat that much broccoli as a side dish. What main courses include broccoli? Beef and Broccoli. Yum! (out of soy sauce). Stir fry - Yum! (out of soy sauce) Broccoli cheese soup - Yum. (the heat index today was close to 100) Broccoli casserole... includes cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta cheese. Also, as an extra added bonus, most recipes actually call for frozen broccoli rather than fresh. That just contains too many processed ingredients for me. I found a recipe for lemon broccoli risotto. It was tasty, don't get me wrong. It was darned tasty, even. But check out how many other ingredients I used NOT to let $2.50 worth of broccoli go to waste...

Broccoli and Lemon Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup dry white wine (I used Yellow Tail Chardonnay)
4 cans chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups cooked broccoli florets
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add lemon juice, wine and 1 can chicken broth. Let simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Add another can of chicken broth. Repeat this step twice more. When most of the liquid has been absorbed from the last can of chicken broth, add the cream, cheese, broccoli and salt and pepper. Stir well. Let simmer another 5 minutes before serving.

I used arborio and chicken broth out of the pantry, and the broccoli didn't go to waste, but in an effort to not waste produce, I chopped onions and garlic, and spent 45 minutes making a rice dish that also included relatively expensive ingredients such as cream and Parmesan cheese. But gosh darn it, I used that broccoli... My grandmother would be so proud.

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