Simple zero waste lunch from leftovers

Filed in Blog by on June 17, 2009 10 Comments
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Pasta sauce for zero food waste

Pasta sauce for zero food waste

After a fortnight ago’s scary vegetable discovery, I’ve been a little more on the ball with fresh produce. Little miss Green asked for pasta one lunchtime.

She was all set to eat just pasta in a bowl with nothing else, but I advised her that perhaps some kind of sauce would make it more palatable. Interfering parents, eh?

I discovered some broccoli which was just starting to yellow, a few carrots, and a sprouting onion needing a home in a nearby stomach.

Well I reckon you can guess what is coming next:

I chopped the carrots and onion up into tiny pieces, and fried them until softened.
Added a tin of tomatoes and the broccoli florets, whacked a lid on and simmered it for 15 minutes until the broccoli was tender.
Meanwhile I cooked the pasta
When the pasta was cooked, it was off to the garden to find some fresh herbs to garnish it with. It had to be basil with that lovely tomatoey sauce, so into the pot it went; a quick stir around and lunch was served.

Gorgeous, simple to make, a fraction of the price of a shop-bought pasta sauce, ready in 25 minutes and zero food waste! Whatsmore, there was enough left for tea.

But that’s not all …

Not only was there enough left for tea, but there was enough of the sauce left for another day! The following day, I added half a pepper and a stick of celery to the mix and topped it all with mashed potato. Baked it in the oven until golden and voila – vegetable pie. Little Miss Green raved about how delicious it was and has since been asking for it again.

It was a real success and saved me, not only food waste, but money too.

What meals have you made from leftovers recently?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Leftovers are a family issue and finding useful additions, like basil, provide the variety of taste necessary.

    Great to see 2 pairs of Sweet Basil leaves with 2 buds, just like about 10 of mine at varying stages of development. My biggest now have 3 pairs with sizeable leaves. I was doubtful of success but progress has been fine. Repotting the 6 biggest is today’s task and one has already been placed in a large 23cm diameter plastic pot. The plastic pots/bases are thinner and less robust, Courtauld Agreement. This is a reduction but the bases are difficult to carry as they are non-rigid. Alternative bases are better.

    I have great plans for them. 3 will go to my brothers, 1 to a cousin who cooks well, and a few to neighbours. One neighbour scoffed at my early seed development and mention a certain Beanstalk owned by a fellow called Jack. That will be a particular pleasure to offer a decent sized one to him.

    The ideas for harvesting are to collect fresh for cooking, occasionally, but to mainly freeze for later. A container would also be indicated for the longterm ie during 2010 , Blanching, in boiling water might be the best way to preserve the longterm storage. Miracle-Gro, from Anna, will not be used for the basil, as directed. Progress has been so good that it should not be required.

  2. Its great isn’t it that something is invented to use things up and not only is there extra left for another meal, it also gets rave reviews.

    Only snag with meals like this is they can probably never be exactly replicated.

  3. sandy says:

    how about bubble and squeak cakes for breakfast, mushrooms and eggs from the hens
    lovely. or left over veg in lasagne

  4. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Following your example, and after referring for web advice, I removed similar sets of leaves from 2 Sweet Basil plants. They are both well developed with one being the oldest and the other a more recent quick grower which has been repotted twice. It will be worth comparing the flavours of both as a guide to best plant propagation.

    Today, Chicken in Tomato&Basil sauce is for dinner, using one of the younger plant’s leaves. I have not taken basil since starting the seeds 6 weeks ago so it should be good. Overcooking is not advised, adding for the last 10 minutes of the cooking time will be tried.

    I will post reaction later today and on Sunday will do the same for an older plant’s leaf to see what tastes better.

  5. John Costigane says:

    Hi Again Mrs Green,

    I placed the chopped Sweet Basil leaf, from the younger plant, in the oven chicken dish about half way through the 40 minute cooking. The chicken was then served served with potatoes and cauliflower. Wondering if enough leaf was used, I tasted the sauce around the chicken. The flavour was strong and very different from the dried basil previously used. I actually consumed all the sauce after the food was finished and the flavour was the same throughout.

    This shows the value of growing your own food. You get the full, true taste from the freshly cut herb which is just a fraction in the dried/bottled type. There is definitely more to the flavour and for instance strawberries are used in combination with basil.

  6. tammy says:

    Today I had the last of the bag of nearly wilting spinach with nearly moldy cheese with fresh baked beans on top! I had a bit of tomato and used that as well. My salad dressings were nearly empty so I poured them all into one bottle and added a bit of milk, gave it a good shake and VIOLA! A wonderful lunch!
    Love your ideas!

  7. Condo Blues says:

    Today’s lunch was reheated leftover’s from yesterday’s dinner. A piece of fish and rice with miso and mung beans. My husband made mung beans and rice (he looked it up on the internet) because we had cooked mung beans in the refrigerator that were left over from the night my husband made tandori chicken. My husband’s brillant about putting together amazing meals with leftovers. He hates wasting food.

  8. Sarah says:

    I must go out and harvest my garlic this weekend…. And plant out more herbs…..

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: I’ve never heard of blanching basil John. Once you heat it you lose a lot of the volatile oils which give the flavour. Air drying is my preferred method or freezing either in butter or ice cube trays.

    Your basil chicken sounded a huge hit – well done! It’s a great feeling to be using even just a tiny amount of your own food isn’t it. Just think; after the first frost you’ll be eating that with some home grown kale 🙂

    @maisie dalziel: That’s true about never being able to completely replicate a meal again. I can more or less remember it, but it will never be quite the same 🙂

    @sandy: Lovely ideas Sandy – I love bubble and squeak; it’s such a comfort food 🙂

    @tammy: That sounds GREAT Tammy; I love mixing things together and seeing how they turn out. It’;s nearly always good 🙂 Thanks for sharing your lunch with us!

    @Condo Blues: Your husband sounds a whizz in the kitchen and your lunch sounded lovely. I think a lot of food tastes better reheated the next day as the flavours infuse overnight. Miso and mung beans sounds awesome.

    @Sarah: Good luck with the garlic, Sarah; I’ve never had any success with it. I had a huge craving for garlic last night, so put some into some basmatti rice; it was just what I needed. I had a sore throat, so I guess my body knew what it needed.

  10. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Blanching is a quick immersion in boiling water which should minimise loss of flavour. This is principally for longterm storage, eg 6 months. The material should last longer. There might bea limit to freezing.

    I have not tried this obviously but read about it. It might be worth a try to test the idea and compare with unblanched frozen leaves over a six month period.

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