Food waste is a massive environmental problem that is finally starting to get the attention it deserves. According to a report from The Guardian, about 50 percent of all produce is wasted annually, and the EPA has reported that of all items that end up in landfills (one of the leading contributors to rising global temperatures), food waste holds the majority. In order to combat such a large-scale problem, we’ll have to start with baby steps, and one of the simplest and most satisfying ways to take action is by repurposing food scraps that would commonly get thrown away. Fortunately, this endeavor has turned into a growing movement among chefs and food bloggers alike, leading to the creation of some truly ingenious and eco-friendly recipes. Check out our roundup below for six dishes that will not only help salvage some of fall’s most common food scraps, but satisfy your appetite as well.
How often has this happened to you? You’re preparing a batch of salsa that calls for cilantro or a chicken dish that beckons for a garnish of parsley and after stripping the leaves off, you end up with a whole pile of stems. Unlike their woody-stemmed counterparts like rosemary, mint and thyme, soft herbs like parsley and cilantro are actually great to eat stems and all. Julie Harrington of RDelicious Kitchen takes her leftover stems and turns them into a vibrant green pesto with the addition of walnuts, garlic, lemon juice and lots of olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Mix with your favorite pasta for a decadent weeknight meal or spoon over roasted vegetables for an herbaceous kick. Get the recipe from RDelicious Kitchen.
Saving and roasting the seeds from your jack-o’-lantern pumpkin is a tradition for many come October. But what if you could take that ingredient one step further and turn it into a different dish entirely? Katie Schmidt of Whole Nourishment has done just that by grinding them up into a chunky salsa with handfuls of green herbs, punchy jalapeño, and lime juice. Serve with your favorite tortilla or pita chips for a gorgeous seasonal starter. Get the recipe from Whole Nourishment.
Making your own vegetable broth is about as easy as boiling water. Seriously! Take it from Lisa Horvath of the blog Makings Of — she has this process down pat. All you do is take peels, ends, and stray chunks of your favorite vegetables and herbs, cover them with water and your desired amount of seasoning, boil away, and strain when infused with your preferred level of vegetable flavor. Once cooled, you can package and store containers in the fridge or freezer for later use in soup, sauces, or just heated straight up for a natural cold remedy. Get the recipe from Makings Of.
Everybody loves potato chips, but I bet you never thought that potato peels could also be turned into a crunchy snack. Amy Erikson of Oh Bite It has come up with an ingenious technique for taking this common by-product and turning it into an addictive treat. Simply take your pile of potato peels (any type will do), douse in extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and any additional seasoning of choice (Erikson uses fresh thyme), arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden and crunchy. You’re bound to get just as hooked on these chips as the real thing. Get the recipe from Oh Bite It.
Leafy greens like Swiss chard are in abundance during the fall season, which means that lots of those hardy stems end up, sadly, getting tossed in the trash. Next time you reach for a bunch, save the stems and try out this tempting Swiss chard stalk dip from Mallory Leicht of Chase the Flavors. The recipe begins by steaming the chard stems until tender, then pulsing them into a hummus of sorts with tahini, lemon juice and a hearty handful of garlic — just like the chickpea spread you love loaded with extra essential vitamins and minerals. Win win! Get the recipe from Chase the Flavors.
Fall in the Midwest means the emergence of more apples than we know what to do with. While the fruit itself is to-die-for in both sweet and savory preparations, the peel actually contain the majority of an apple’s nutrients and serves as a versatile ingredient on its own. Allyson Meyler of Reclaiming Yesterday takes the scraps from her apples and turns them into a spiced tea by boiling them in water with seasonings like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lemon and honey. Arm yourself with a mug and a good book and you’ve got the makings of a relaxing fall afternoon. Get the recipe on Reclaiming Yesterday.
More from Make It Better:
- 7 Apple Cider Cocktails That Scream Fall
- 15 Fall Chicago Restaurant Openings We’re Excited About
- The Spanish Tortilla: Top Chefs Share Tips for Perfecting This Simple Classic
Maddie LaKind is a Chicago-born personal chef, caterer and writer. Her love of gastronomy began with an introduction to the Food Network as a teenager and has since blossomed into a deep-rooted passion. She spent her early career in the food world working at the famed Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before moving on to other notable spots including Detroit’s Sister Pie bakery, and Floriole Bakery, Read It and Eat bookstore and The Social Table in Chicago. In her spare time, she can be found practicing yoga, hosting dinner parties for friends and sifting through her ever-growing cookbook collection. Maddie is also a supporter of PAWS Chicago. Since adopting her two cats from the shelter, she has served as a volunteer and donated her cooking services as an auction item at fundraisers.