I read once that a lot of people suffer from a sort of social pressure in the supermarket where they feel forced to load their trolley with fruit, veg and healthy food, to give the appearance that they were leading a healthy lifestyle.
I thought it was pathetic, and then realised I actually one of the culprit. Needless to say that half of the fruit and veg end up straight into the compost bin. Yes, I know, waste not, starving children, bla bla bla. Shame on me.
A couple of weeks ago I went to the Swansea 1940s Bay (post about this coming soon) and that made me think about living on rations. When you think about it, we can get pretty much everything without restrictions, bar your own budget. This made me think about how I wasted food, and I decided to find fresh and innovative ways to cook some of the fruit and veg which always ended up being thrown away.
Peppers are a good example. I always buy a bag with a clear idea of what to do with them, and then cook something else, and they end up looking slightly passed their best. That’s another thing I realised recently: growing up in the countryside we didn’t buy much vegetable (we had quite a big garden, very well kept by Papa) and my parents never seemed to be bothered by sell-by/ best before dates. Anything veg which looked a bit tired and sad was thrown into soups in winter, or cooked along some slow cooked meat. I can hardly remember them throwing food away. They just seemed to have a very sensible approach, which I’m afraid I have lost after living in the city!
Anyway, back to our peppers…
One day I happened to have a bag of peppers which had seen better days. They were not mouldy at all. just a bit wrinkled. Usually they would have been sent to the compost bin straight away, but not this time. I decided to try one recipe on my mind for a while, which looked great and called for sliced peppers. I decided to put them through my mini-blender, which was a great idea, but I had some leftovers. I improvised and came up with a second, completely made-up dish which has become part of my regular, favourite recipes. So stick your peppers in the blender, and off you go!
The first recipe is taken from a pregnancy book, which I translated for my sister while she was expecting (not the whole book- the most important stuff and the nice recipes I knew she’d like). The recipe is called Tomato and Pepper Jalousie. Puff pastry is not one of my regular buys, but I find that I just need half of it to make 2 Jalousies, so I freeze the rest for another time. This way, I don’t end up eating the same dish 5 meals in a row!
Tomato and Pepper Jalousie
Half a pack of puff pastry
Peppers cut into very small pieces (I stick them in a blender)
2 spoonfuls of tomato puree (use a small can and use the rest for the second recipe)
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Lots of herbs! Basil, Thyme, oregano, Herbes de Provence, you name it.
1 spoonful of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees (gas mark 7). Cut the pastry in two equal rectangles and place on a baking tray. With a knife, draw within the rectangle another rectangle, slightly smaller than the first one, and draw some diagonal lines inside it- this is where you will put the filling, and you’ll have some nice, puffy edges. Spread the tomato puree, add your peppers and half tomatoes, herbs and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a little bit of salt and pepper.
With a cooking brush, spread a bit of milk on the edges- this will turn them into a nicely golden colour). Cook for 20/25 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden.
This makes a gorgeous starter- or a great light lunch and it just tastes gorgeous!!! Honestly, you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy it. And it’s really, really easy to make.
With the leftover peppers and tomato puree, you can make…
“Let’s compromise” tomato soup
This is for when you can’t be bothered to cook, but feel a bit bad about it, hence the name. You use a can of tomato soup (I always seem to have one knocking about in my cupboard) and just improve it beyond belief. If you are unscrupulous, say you made it from scratch. If you’re honest, say that you had a bit of help!
Can of tomato soup (watch for the salt level, some of them are quite high)
Leftover tomato puree
Herbs, to taste
Celery seeds and Tabasco (optional)
In a pan, gently fry the shallots in the olive oil until soft. Add the peppers, cook for 2 minutes, then add the tin of tomato soup. Add the tomato puree and herbs and mix well. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Rather than a bland and boring tomato soup out of a can, you now have a glorious tomato and pepper soup which will taste fantastic served with warm, crusty bread. You can add the Tabasco and celery seeds for a kick.
This just goes to show that you just need a bit of inspiration sometimes. What about you- what do you do to avoid wasting food? Any nice recipe to share?
(On a side note, I am very proud of my coordinated plates and bowls. I love them!)