We all know that fresh, seasonal produce is the best way of getting most of the nutrients we need, and of making the most delicious dishes. However, when I follow a recipe that calls for them, I often end up with half pieces of fruit, a whole head of garlic minus 2 cloves, wilting leaves of once-beautiful greens and orphaned carrots. Let’s not even mention soggy quarters-of-a-bunch of basil, mint or oregano waiting to be rescued from the fridge. But by then, I’ve moved on to the next recipe, and more unused, perishable ingredients start accumulating in the crisper and threat to decompose. I hate wasting for every possible reason!
I’ve tried repeating the same recipe over and over until I run out of its components, but the trick doesn’t fly on my family table, where I only get rolled eyes and unhappy faces refusing to eat the dish “again” and “again.” Plus invariably, there’s always still half a tomato or 2 scallions left!
To put a stop to the cycle and the waste, I’ve devised a plan: before doing my shopping, I think of what I will cook for the next couple of days and I select three recipes that are very different from each other, but that use at least the same 3 fresh (perishable) ingredients. This way I ensure including seasonal fruits, vegetables, legumes and herbs, and using them all up, while adding variety. This works great, especially when I go shopping to whearehouse stores like Costco, where you can get fresh produce proportionally cheaper than in the regular markets, but you end up purchasing a sack with 100 lemons or a box with 32 figs, whose shelf life starts a countdown the minute you pay for them.
This week, I picked Persian cucumbers (those small ones that you don’t need to peel nor seed), limes and fresh mint, which are very refreshing and don’t need any cooking before being eaten, a good alternative to heating up the oven when the weather is pretty hot itself. This trio is at its seasonal prime, which also means that the products are at their least expensive and most flavorful and nutritious states. It’s a win-win situation!