Saving the scraps

tomato sauce 

Marcella Hazan’s three-ingredient tomato sauce is, simply put, brilliant. So easy to make but boasting deep, complex flavors, it’s no wonder the recipe has been printed dozens of time in various newspapers, on blogs, and in multiple cookbooks. When you read the instructions on how to prepare the dish, one of the last steps is to discard the onion. That’s a mistake, says Epicurious. They’ve got eight ways to make good use of that gorgeous, carmelized beauty. 

Reading about the novel uses for the onion led me to think about other items that can be saved instead of thrown away. The first that popped into my mind was vanilla bean. Once you scrape the seeds for your recipe, don’t toss the pod. You can plop it into granulated sugar to make a heavenly scented vanilla sugar. Some recipes even call for grinding up the entire bean, pod and all, for intense vanilla flavor. Food52 provides five ideas for using a spent vanilla pod

Fruit peels, especially citrus rinds, are another item you should never toss. I make a habit out of zesting lemons and limes before I juice them, regardless if the recipe calls for zest, and store it in a small freezer container. That way I always have zest on hand to liven up baked goods. Apple peels contain a significant amount of pectin, so I likewise freeze those to use when making jams and jellies for added thickening ability. 

The leafy bits and stems of vegetables and herbs are also excellent candidates for re-use. Cilantro stems can be blended into soups or sauces. Fennel fronds and carrot tops are delicious additions to salads, and beet greens are similar to Swiss chard in flavor and texture. What “throw-away” bits do you reserve for a special use? 

Photo of Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce III from The Washington Post by Marcella Hazan

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  • mjes  on  June 1, 2018

    Additional ideas are available in cookbooks such as last year's Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty by Noma's Mads Refslund.

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