“Cooking With Scraps” is a new cookbook that teaches readers how to turn peels, cores, rinds and stems into fresh, gratifying meals. Authored by Lindsay-Jean Hard, the book serves as a reference for using every part of food, from the water in canned beans to broccoli stems to pineapple rinds. Hard organized the book from A to Z, which isn’t common with cookbooks, because she views it as a reference book and a jumping off point.
“All the recipes are easy and have accessible ingredients and short ingredient lists,” Hard said. “I really don’t want it to feel overwhelming at all to anyone.”
Americans currently produce 133 billion pounds of food waste every year. The USDA has set a nationwide goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. Hard’s book shares practical ways to reduce food waste, providing creative ideas to take advantage of outdated produce, cheese rinds, stale bread and other foods that are typically discarded.
For delicious recipes from Hard’s book, keep an eye out for the March/April 2019 issue of Gluten-Free Living or subscribe so you never miss an issue.
Gluten-Free Living had a chat with Hard to learn more about the book.
GFL: Have you always cooked with scraps, or is this something you had to foster?
LJH: It developed over time. I worked with [the online community] Food 52 for six years and had a few different columns. One of them was called “Cooking With Scraps,” which came out of an editorial brainstorm session. I loved the idea, and I knew I had to write that column. I would hunt through Food 52 recipe archives for recipes, and I learned so much from the community.
GFL: Why do you believe it’s so important to waste less food in the kitchen?
LJH: Cooking with scraps is a win-win. It’s good for the planet, and it’s good for your pocketbook. We have so much food waste in the United States; 40 percent of our food goes uneaten. By reclaiming some of that, we’re not tossing it in landfills, and we’re eating it and saving money in the process. This way of thinking is a mind shift. We have to realize these scraps are edible and taste good and deserve a spot on our plate.
GFL: What are some of the biggest objections people have when they hear about cooking with scraps? Is it ever a turn-off?
LJH: Part of it is the name “scraps.” People think it will be something they have to force themselves into doing out of the do-gooder aspect of it. Once they try the recipes and see for themselves, that usually changes.
GFL: What scraps are a good place to start?
LJH: Root vegetable tops are one of the easiest ins—beet greens and carrot tops. They’re a green like anything else you would use in cooking, and they’re so versatile. They can be sautéed, scattered into salads, I use carrot tops to make a condiment, pesto—it’s an easy way to get into scraps.
GFL: Are there any scraps you want to be able to use but just haven’t been able to figure out?
LJH: I really wanted to be able to use a Brussel sprout stalk…but they are very tough and fibrous, and I’ve yet to be able to successfully do that with them.
GFL: Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?
LJH: I really love soba noodles, so I love the Soba Noodles with Ginger Marmalade Dipping Sauce. The Coffee Ground Cashew Butter is also a favorite, because I don’t think many of us think of coffee grounds as being edible or delicious, but they have so much coffee flavor left in them.
GFL: What has the response been to “Cooking With Scraps” so far?
LJH: So far, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. It’s been really nice to hear people get excited. Usually people either haven’t thought about this at all, or it’s people whose grandparents or parents cooked like this, and they’re excited to get back to it.
GFL: What is the biggest thing you hope people take away from this book?
LJH: I really hope that they start to see these scraps as just ingredients and that, one by one, incorporating them into their regular style of cooking, they start to just use more scraps without even thinking about it.
GFL: This book isn’t specifically gluten free, but many of the recipes in it are healthy and do not contain gluten. Is this purposeful?
LJH: A lot of the recipes within this book just happened to be gluten free, and I think scraps can be an easy thing to incorporate into whatever your dietary needs may be.
Here’s what to do with:
Cheese Tortellini with Sausage and Broccoli Stems
Parsley Stem Tabbouleh
Mushroom Stem Compound Butter
Danish Pancakes with Apple Core Syrup
White Bean and Cauliflower Core Puree with Green Olive Gremolata
Cheddar Nub Pub Cheese
Watermelon Rind Lime Granita with Basil Whipped Cream
Banana Peel Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
Dried Apple Peel Chips
Beet Peel Margarita
Everything Bagel Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Cantaloupe Seeds with Chili and Lime
Beet Greens Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Rounds
Shaved Zucchini Salad with Carrot Tops and Fennel Seed Dukkah
Spicy Carrot Top Kimuchi
Lindsay-Jean Hard received her master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan. Her education and passion for sustainability went on to inform and inspire her work in the garden, home and community. The seeds of her book were planted in her Food52 column of the same name. Today she works to share her passion for great food and great communities as a marketer at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.