All for one

Chuck­ing away the likes of veg­etable tops, seeds, peel­ings, cores and liquors is com­mon prac­tice in the kitchen. We all do it on au­topi­lot. Here, those oft-dis­carded tops be­come a zingy pesto for a tray of roasted roots, and a hum­ble pot of beans is made

The Guardian - Cook - - The Modern Cook - Anna Jones

We talk a lot about waste these days. Rigid sell-by dates and a squea­mish at­ti­tude to im­per­fec­tion en­cour­age us to throw away per­fectly good food: tops are cut off turnips, beet­root and car­rots be­fore we have even had a chance to think of us­ing them; in­gre­di­ents pre­pared in ad­vance in restau­rants are des­tined for the bin on a quiet night; but­ter­nut squash cores and seeds are thrown out when mak­ing spi­ralised veg­etable noo­dles; and im­per­fect melon trim­mings are aban­doned to make our lit­tle pots of pre-chopped fruit more

pre­sentable ... And that’s with­out even a men­tion of the fuel and water that has been used to pro­duce and trans­port it all. A third of the food we pro­duce world­wide goes to waste, enough to feed 17 mil­lion peo­ple. There is so much work to be done and I am sure I don’t even know the half of it.

Re­cently, this talk of waste has spread to our top din­ing rooms. Only this week, one of my favourite Bri­tish cooks, Skye Gyn­gell, launched her “scratch” menu at her restau­rant, Spring (see p12). It’s a more af­ford­able se­lec­tion made with in­gre­di­ents that are of­ten over­looked.

An­other chef whose cook­ing I have long ad­mired is Dan Bar­ber, from Blue Hill in New York, who brings his food waste cel­e­bra­tion wastED to a pop-up at Sel­fridges this month (see p8).

So, with this in mind, I have been cook­ing us­ing the whole in­gre­di­ent, try­ing not to throw any of the pre­cious food I have bought into the bin (I hope you will ex­cuse me a cou­ple of onion and gar­lic skins). A hum­ble pot of but­tery beans made with the liq­uid they were cooked or canned in, whole veg­eta­bles, tops, peel, stalks and all. As well as a tray of sim­ply roasted car­rots and beets, with olives and ca­pers, and a punchy pesto made with the brine, oil and root tops: all the things that would oth­er­wise be wasted.

Roast roots with ‘waste’ pesto Serves 4

1 bunch of car­rots with tops

1 bunch of beet­roots with tops

1 small but­ter­nut squash 100g whole black olives in oil

2 tbsp baby ca­pers in brine

1 un­waxed lemon

1 whole gar­lic bulb A chunk of hard, white cheese (what­ever you have in your fridge) Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Sep­a­rate the tops from the car­rots and beet­roots, wash and put to one side for later. You need to wash the veg­eta­bles re­ally well – the car­rots and beet­roots will need a good scrub, as you’re not go­ing to peel them. Slice each beet­root into quar­ters, or halves if they are small, and the car­rots in half length­ways, or quar­ters if they are re­ally big.

2 Cut the but­ter­nut squash in half length­ways and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds (set aside to use later). Slice the squash into 1cm-thick, cre­sent-shaped wedges.

3 Tip all the veg­eta­bles into a large bak­ing tray and driz­zle with a good glug of the oil from the olive jar. Driz­zle about 2 tbsp of the ca­per brine over the veg­eta­bles – this will be your salt – then add the olives and ca­pers and give ev­ery­thing a good mix.

4 Grate over the zest of the lemon, then cut it in half and add

I’ve been cook­ing us­ing the whole in­gre­di­ent, try­ing not to throw any of the pre­cious food I have bought into the bin

to the tray along with the whole bulb of gar­lic. Bake for 30-40 min­utes, or un­til the veg­eta­bles are cooked through and golden edged.

5 Mean­while, wash the squash seeds un­der cold run­ning water to get rid of any fi­brous bits. Coat with a lit­tle more oil from the olives, then roast in the oven for 10 min­utes, or un­til you can hear them start to pop and they look a shade darker.

6 Once the veg­eta­bles are cooked, re­move the tray from the oven, care­fully spoon out the lemon and gar­lic, and put the veg­eta­bles back in the oven to keep warm.

7 To make the pesto, squeeze the roasted gar­lic out of its pa­pery skin into the bowl of a food pro­ces­sor. Add the roasted pump­kin seeds, whole roasted lemon and grated cheese, if you’re us­ing it, then blitz to a coarse paste. Add the car­rot and beet­root tops and some olive oil (use up the oil from the olive jar, then add a lit­tle more if you need, or just add a splash of water). Pulse un­til you have a chunky pesto. Sea­son with a lit­tle ca­per brine.

8 Serve the roast veg­eta­bles with the pesto along­side for spoon­ing. Freeze left­over pesto in freezer bag, or keep it in a jar in the fridge, cov­ered with a thin layer of olive oil, where it will keep for up to a week.

Use-it-all Bos­ton beans

These beans can be hap­pily eaten for any meal and, I think, taste bet­ter the day after they are made, so the flavours have been able to meld and mel­low. Yes, you re­ally can eat tomato stalks and they bring a grassy green­ness.

If you want to cook your own beans from scratch, soak them overnight, then add to a saucepan and fill with cold water to a depth of about 3cm above the top of the beans, bring to a rapid boil for 5 min­utes, then turn down to a very gen­tle sim­mer un­til cooked through and ten­der.

Serves 4

400g dried hari­cot beans, cooked, cook­ing water re­served; or 3 x 400g tins of hari­cot beans, liq­uid re­served 1 heaped tsp English mus­tard pow­der or 1 tbsp jarred mus­tard 1 tbsp mo­lasses 2 tbsp Worces­ter­shire sauce (I use a vege­tar­ian one) 1 large onion, peeled and halved 2 to­ma­toes, stalks and all 2 car­rots, scrubbed 1 large leek, washed and cut into a few big chunks (use both the green and white parts) 1 whole chipo­tle chilli 1 bay leaf Flaky salt

1 Put a large cast-iron pot or deep saucepan on a low heat, then add the beans and their liq­uid to the pot, along with the mus­tard pow­der, mo­lasses and Worces­ter­shire sauce. Give it a good stir.

2 Nes­tle the onion, to­ma­toes, car­rots, leek, chilli and bay leaf in among the beans. Add up to an­other 200ml of cold water, so that ev­ery­thing is just cov­ered by the liq­uid. How much water you add will de­pend on the ex­act amount of liq­uid that you have in the tins or left­over from cook­ing: you want it to just barely cover the beans.

3 Put a lid on the pot. Bring to a gen­tle sim­mer, then turn the heat down and cook on a very low heat for an hour with­out stir­ring (stir­ring will break up the beans) un­til the sauce is thick and sticky. You may want to re­move the lid for the last 30 min­utes if it looks like there is too much liq­uid.

4 Care­fully re­move the onion, tomato, car­rots, leek, chilli and bay leaf. Dis­card the bay leaf, then set the rest aside for a few min­utes to cool slightly be­fore spoon­ing into a food pro­ces­sor and blitz­ing un­til smooth. Once smooth, stir it back into the beans.

5 Next, add a good amount of salt to the beans, stir well and taste. Bal­ance with a lit­tle Worces­ter­shire sauce, mo­lasses, mus­tard or salt, if needed.

6 Serve your beans sim­ply on toast or topped with a poached egg.

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