How to Turn Limp Veggies Into Delicious Lunches
This week’s healthy lunch strategy: Use up your limp veg.
If, like me, you’ve found wrinkled yet perfectly edible vegetables in the fridge, then lucky you! Lunch is sorted this week.
Rather than throwing them in the food bin and reaching for that thousandth cheese toastie, I’m going to show you how to rescue your limp, tired veg with exciting, lunchtime recipes from the Gousto Cookbook.
I’ve filled this article with ideas that’ll have you confidently swapping this-for-that, reducing your food waste and finding new, healthy ways to lunch.
Why do vegetables go limp?
Limp vegetables are missing one thing: Water. Once picked, moisture continually evaporates from vegetables, making them limp and wrinkled.
Are limp vegetables still safe to eat?
If your vegetables are a little limp, but they’re not mouldy, slimy or smelly – munch away!
If they’re only slightly bendy or wrinkly, you can revive your vegetables by placing them in a bowl of cool or iced water. They should spring back to life within half an hour.
How to rescue limp vegetables
Cut the bottom off your celery and place the stalks in a glass of cold water for 30 minutes or until crisp. You may need to add more water if your celery is extra thirsty!
Cut a bit off the bottom and place upright in a glass of cold water until firmed up. If your carrots are already cut, you can place them in a bowl of cool water.
Lettuce, spinach or bagged salad leaves
If they’re just a bit wrinkled around the edges, just place them in a bowl of cool water and they’ll spring back to life!
Peel and plop in a bowl of water.
Trim the bottom and pop in a glass of water. If you have cut florets, place in a bowl of water until plumped up and crisp.
Spring has sprung, and it’s peak season for sweet British asparagus. If your stalks are looking sad, trim the bottoms and place them upright in a glass of water until firm.
Trim the stalks at the bottom and place upright in a glass of water. Or if you can only save the leaves, pick them off and soak in cool water until back to their young, plump selves.
Or just add them to…
A big pot of soup is ideal for disguising any lacklustre veg. So cook them up in a big batch and freeze for future lunches.
I’ve also strayed from this Butternut Squash & Bacon Soup by using wrinkly carrots instead, and it still tastes sensational.
Salads are the ultimate way to empty your crisper drawer.
Like in our Coronation Chickpea Salad. Don’t be afraid to chuck extra celery, cucumbers or carrots in for extra goodness. Dice them finely, stir them up with a mayo and mango chutney dressing, and your healthy lunch is served.
Or liven up that same old sarnie, and grate your veg into a quick slaw like the one in our Harissa Halloumi Sandwich. This makes a fast, zippy side dish that’ll use up those bendy carrots.
For a peppery twist on classic pesto, try replacing basil for rocket, like in this Aubergine & Tomato Orzo. No rocket? We’ve had delicious results with lamb’s lettuce, spinach and even kale.
You could also simmer any tired looking tomatoes into a tasty 10 minute Chicken, Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella Fusilli for a fast, filling lunch that’s good warm or cold.
The quickest hot lunch you can get at home. Just chop up your veg, whack the heat on high and whip up a Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry or a Nutty Bang-Bang Prawn Noodle Stir Fry, made with pantry ingredients like soy, fish sauce and any vegetables you have around.
You could also use up your carrots, kale and leftover rice in this 10 minute Indonesian-style Nasi Goreng topped with a runny fried egg and lashings of chilli sauce.
When will we ever get to have a roast for lunch again? So while I’m sharing my lunch break with my oven, I’ll whack veg on a tray, like in this Halloumi & Roasted Veg Tray Bake, sling it in to roast 30 minutes before my break, and it’s ready by 1.
Or if I’m organised enough to meal prep, I’ll roast them off the night before to make this Chunky Roast Vegetables With Jewelled Couscous, ready for tomorrow’s midday power up.
Making your own pizza dough is a great weekend project, but when I just want lunch on the table, using tortilla wraps like in Joe Wicks’ Spinach & Caramelised Onion Pizza is my new quick twist on a pizza base.
Make your tortilla pizzas your own with odds and ends from the fridge. Some other favourite combos of mine have been mushrooms and bacon in this Pancetta & Mushroom Pizza, or this one with Cherry Tomatoes & Cheese.
Lunching in lockdown
Sandwiches and toasties (Marmite and cheese for me, please!) will always have a place at the lunch table. But after the first few weeks of non-stop sarns, it’s high time we switched things up – if not to make things more exciting, to make sure that we don’t waste any food.
If you’re finding your fruits and vegetables go off faster than you anticipate, find out how to store them properly in How To Store Fruit & Veg So They Last Longer. And for more inspiration on how to use up what you’ve got, check out our article Helpful Ingredient Swaps When You Can’t Go Shopping.