Seasonal food tips ahead of Food Waste Action Week
One of the great things about spring is the new rainbow of fresh vegetables, a welcome change for those looking to keep their food miles low and eat seasonally. While we’re not quite ready for summer salads, we can use these veggies to make lighter suppers, packed full of colour and nutrients.
With that in mind, we’re shining a spotlight on three of the best and brightest springtime ingredients – beetroot, cucumber and spinach. The following hacks are sure to bring your taste buds out of hibernation and help use up that half bag of spinach or the end of the cucumber that’s looking a bit sad at the back of the fridge.
Spring hero #1 – Beetroot
Popular as a natural food colouring, beetroot is a real winner for the health fanatics out there, as it contains lots of iron, potassium and Vitamin C. Here are our chef’s top creative ways to get it into your diet:
Try roasting your beetroot with some honey and walnuts to create this Honey Roast Beetroot with Feta & Spinach Bulgur recipe. Roasting beetroot lessens the bitter flavour, and goes very well with carrots and sweet potatoes.
Still feeling the need for something a little more warming in the evening? This Beetroot & Mushroom Ragù is made by finely chopping the beetroot and bubbling away in a rich, delicious mushroom and carrot stew.
Grating into a burger
Friday night burgers don’t have to be junk food. Lean into the sweetness of your beetroot and grate it into a delicious Beetroot Burger with Tarragon Mayo. Combined with glossy red onion relish, it’ll quickly become a go-to way to use up any beetroots that are starting to soften.
Chef’s food waste hack to use up EVERYTHING: Beetroot tops can be used as a substitute for, or to compliment, greens, such as spinach, swiss chard and bok choy. They can be steamed, sauteed, braised, added to soups or even eaten raw. Sauteeing the stems with a little garlic, orange and shallot is a great way to have them tender and crisp – the perfect side for just about anything. Just make sure to rinse them well and they’re good to go!
The leaves can be a perfect addition to a stir fry, with some olive oil, garlic, sugar, seasoning and at the last second, red wine vinegar. Simply finely chop and add it to the pan, in place of spinach, kale or other greens. Beetroot is also best friends with walnut, so sautéing the leaves with butter, ground black pepper and salt, and topping with toasted walnuts makes for a yummy snack.
Spring hero #2 – Cucumber
It’s easy to end up with half a cucumber lying in the back of the fridge if you’ve no intention of using it up in yet another salad. Our Chefs love getting creative with leftover cucumbers, whether that’s pickling, sauteing or ribboning, there are loads of versatile ways to get the hydration and vitamin K from cucumbers.
A perfect springtime dinner recipe is this Bulgarian-Style Stuffed Peppers & Cucumber Yoghurt. Filling the pepper halves with beef and pork mince, baked in a rich tomato sauce, the refreshing Greek-style cucumber yoghurt balances out the dish perfectly.
Our chef Jordan’s top tip for accentuating the crunch before grating is to leave the cucumber with salt for 20 minutes, then rinse the salt off and squeeze out any moisture with a kitchen towel.
Give it a quick pickle
Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and finely slice, then soak in rice vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Try this delicious Malaysian-Style Coconut Basa with Pickled Cucumber recipe for a flavourful alternative.
Cucumber is particularly tasty sauteed with a bit of oil and salt. Using butter or sesame oil is highly recommended, as the cucumber pairs well with nutty flavours. Remember, try to avoid peeling your cucumbers, as the skin is full of nutrients and adds extra crunch.
Chef’s food waste hack to use up EVERYTHING: limp cucumbers can also be revived by slicing off the end and standing in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes – they’ll be back to their crunchy glory in no time!
Spring hero #3 – Spinach
An iconic green veg, spinach is known for being loaded with health benefits, such as vitamin K, magnesium and calcium, and is a go-to way of adding an extra vitamin hit to dishes. However, an uneaten, or half-eaten, bag of spinach quickly goes soggy, as our green smoothies can only take so much! Here’s what we love to do with spinach:
Give it an Asian twist
Pairing spinach with sesame oil and garlic transform the flavours to give it an Asian-inspired twist. This Japanese Hambagu & Sesame Spinach recipe comes served with nutty rice.
Stir into rice or pasta for an extra health kick
This 10-minute Tandoori Salmon & Minty Cucumber recipe is light, quick and refreshing – perfect for those warmer evenings. Use up leftover spinach by wilting the spinach into cooked rice or pasta. This Creamy Pesto, Chicken & Spinach Amorini is another 10-minute favourite.
Chef’s food waste hack to use up EVERYTHING: Using up spinach may seem like a task and a half, but sauteed or steamed spinach shrinks up surprisingly quickly, so don’t be afraid to add plenty to your dishes. Stir your spinach over a high heat until it’s wilted, as a higher heat will help any liquid it releases to evaporate quickly. This is definitely worth doing, if you want to avoid wet or slimy spinach.
Additionally, blending up spinach with some sauteed garlic, onion and stock to make a delicious sauce is another way to use up any leftovers. Remember, you can always freeze spinach for up to 6 months, after blanching, and simply add to any curries, as and when.