Keep Calm & Eat Pesto

Keep calm and eat lettuce pesto

I have always loved pesto ever since my teens when one day my sister cooked us up a batch of pasta with lashings of pesto mixed
into it. Both store bought but the flavour and almost immediate satisfaction that filled our bellies after just 15 minutes cooking time has always left the classic pesto and pasta combination as a staple in my household. I have always enjoyed the taste of store bought pesto but nothing can beat a fresh pesto made from scratch. It’s flavour is always lighter and fresher tasting, pairing brilliantly with more then just a simple pasta dish. I often make pesto for the start of the week as a go to dressing for quick meals when I’m busy. It can be a little expensive to make your own pesto as you need quite alot of fresh herbs but there is a solution. I use lettuce to bulk the pesto out yet it doesn’t detract from the flavour as I still uses the herbs plus all the other classic ingredients. It is the perfect way to use up salad leaves which are often one of the most thrown away items in British households and you know how I hate waste!

Lettuce pesto ingredientsIngredients to make a small jar: 1 good handful of fresh herbs,2 good handfuls of salad leaves, 2 large handful of nuts or seeds, A small lump of hard cheese, 2 garlic cloves, 2tbsp of olive oil plus extra for jar. sprinkle of salt and pepper.

1. I have given these vague ingredients as you can pretty much choose whatever combination of items you want. A classic pesto is basil, pine nuts and parmesan but you can adapt it with anything. Here are some ideas

Mint/parsley, almonds, mature chedder

Coriander, cashews, manchego , abit of chilli and ginger

Dill, sunflower seeds, pecorino

Lovely ingredients for lovely lettuce pesto A spoonful of lettuce pesto helps the leftovers go down2. Whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor, slowly adding the olive oil as you go, till you get a think paste that isn’t too wet.

3. Add to a jar, press down with a spoon and cover with a layer of olive oil. It should keep for 1 week, topping up with oil to cover if you use a little at a time. (My oil looks horrible in this photo, it has no colour weirdly. That’s what you get for cheap olive oil)

Lettuce Pesto Ready to Go

You can add pesto to loads of different dishes other then pasta, here is a few and please feel free to add your own uses in the comments.

Dolloped on pizza either as a replacement to a tomato sauce or as an addition blobbed on randomly

Mixed into potato salad

On top of a baked potato

A sandwich filling with some fresh salad veggies (tomato, pesto and mozzarella sounds good)

A salad dressing, mixed with some more  oilve oil and a little lemon juice or vinegar

A crust or rub for fish or meats

Basically anything

Lorna

x xxx

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Simple Soup, Grains, Veg and Stock

Soup Glorious Soup!Soup is a wonderful thing. Its good for you, keeps the cold from your toes when it’s winter and it’s super thrifty. You can put just about anything into soup and it will come out tasting fantastic and for me this is the perfect meal for the end of your shopping week when your running low on fresh produce. Me & H get our veg box delivery on a Thursday so by Wednesday we normally only have a few bits and bobs left over to make dinner from. A brilliant but healthy way to bulk up this veg into a soup is using a wide selection of grains as your base. Add the produce as a lighter edition to the filling flavours of the grains. You can get a generic dried ‘soup mix’ from all food shops and supermarkets for around £1 or less which normally include pearl barley (I bloody love it), red lentils, split peas, a mix of beans and peas. They are cheap and filling but the perfect way to use up those rogue carrots or sticks of celery that may be languishing in the chiller of the fridge.

Selection of Veggies for Soup

Ingredients Serves 2

2 generous handfuls of soup mix, 500ml of veg/chicken stock,1-2 garlic cloves, A selection of veg I used 1 Carrot, 3 small sticks of celery, a bunch of radishes and a random tiny piece of fennel leftover.

1. You will need to soak the soup mix overnight or throughout the day. 8 hours should be enough time.

2. Cook the soup mix in plenty of water for 30-40 mins on a rolling boil. You will need to skim off the impurities off the top of the water and discard throughout the cooking process.

3. Meanwhile dice the vegetables and slice the garlic

4. Once the grains are cooked you can create the rest of the meal in two ways. One just on the stove or one in a slow cooker.

Lovely Grains for Lovely Soup beautiful fresh vegetables5. For on the stove: Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Once warm add the garlic and veg and slightly brown if you want. Add the grains in with any of the remaining cooking liquid plus the 500ml of stock. Gently heat to a simmer. You can then cook the veg to your liking. I like them pretty crunchy so I generally heat it through just to warm the veg and not really cook them

6. For in the slow cooker: I like using the slow cooker as I can prep the meal the day before and then I just have to turn it on when I am home. I turn the heat on for the slow cooker and add a little bit of oil into the bottom, when it is warmed I add the garlic to slightly cook through and mellow the flavour. I add the veg, the grains with cooking liquid and the stock. I can then pop the cooker on throughout the day or when I get home

warming, guilt free comfort food

This is such a simple dish but I really enjoy the flavours and that I get to use up any left overs I have. You can use whatever vegetables you have left at the end of the week and create some thing wholesome and tasty for you and your family. If you don’t cook the veg in time and that onion is getting pretty manky, fear not, here is a post on composting. Also check out this little review I did on this Soup Maker to get inspired to make more soups!

Lorna

x xxx

15 uses: Leftovers

Bit of an unusual 15 uses this week but never the less still a very important use of everyday ‘rubbish’ and that is leftovers. I have focused on some of the main things that people have at the end of the week that might not be up to scratch. They might need a little titivating or maybe even transformed into something completely unique but the best thing to do is to make sure you don’t waste that tasty food or waste your hard earned cash. I will know doubt do another leftovers 15 uses but for now here are some great ideas for bread, salad and dairy and not all are recipes surprisingly.
salad leftover

5 uses for leftover salad

One of the biggest amounts of household food waste comes from leftover salad particularly whole lettuces and pre packaged bags of leafy greens. Here are some super ways to make sure you can reuse every last bit of that salad even if its going slightly brown at the sides, don’t worry it won’t make you ill.

1. Salad smoothie-Not every ones taste but you can add other ingredients to make it more appealing such as berries and bananas. Its an easy way to get your 5 a day.

2. Grow it. If you buy whole lettuce heads you can plant the stump and watch it grown. Treat like any salad plant, watering regularly especially in hot weather and protecting it from frost in the colder months, perhaps bringing it inside. You can then cut off only the salad you need and reduce your waste

3. A simple salad soup- Sounds quite bland but its actually really tasty and light. Most recipes seem to recommend a cold soup but i’m not a big fan so would go for warm. All you need is chicken/veg stock, some potato, onion and your salads, simmer till potatoes are tender and blend. Add herbs and spices for more depth and experimentation

4. Painting block- Make a stamp out of the stalk of a lettuce and you have a ready made way to add a bit of character to plain wrapping paper and cards/envelopes

5. No Pesto Pesto- I really want to try this! Instead of using basil, pine nuts and Parmesan, use cheaper alternatives of old salad leaves, mixed nuts and cheddar cheese. A different taste admittedly but a good way to use up leftovers and great for a pasta lunch in a hurry. As always experiment.

dairy leftover

5 uses for leftover Dairy

Nothing worse then taking a big gulp of milk or gobbling a huge spoonful of yogurt with jam to find its gone off and you’ve got a sour sick taste in your mouth. Don’t worry though help is at hand and you can save those little bits you forgot about.

1. Make riccotta cheese from old milk- the link on the pinterest board has a great tutorial and would be a really great way to salvage that spoiled milk

2. Frozen Yogurt- You can make lovely ice lollies with yogurt which turns out more like a creamy milk lolly. Add fruit for more texture and flavour, allowing for some juice to mingle with the yogurt to get a fuller flavour

3. Smoothie to the rescue-  Yogurt and fruit meet blender. Jobs a goodun!

4. Use little bits of cheese and left over veg to make savoury scones for lunch. Tasty and waste reducing.

5. Follow the recipe on the pinterest board to make a cheese spread which is the perfect way to use up loads of little bits of old, dried and cracked cheese.
bread leftovers5 uses for Stale Bread

Another big problem is bread which can often get stale and inedible before you get to smack some peanut butter on it. Stale bread is easy to salvage as you can see by the recipes below and if there is a little bit of mould on it just cut it off and make use of the rest with one of these ideas.

1. Panade- Great idea for both stale bread and past its best vegetables. Make a really hearty meal thats quick to put together, all you have to do is bang it in the oven.

2. Bird feeders- Cut out shapes in stale bread using a cookie cutter, attach a loop of string to hang (poke a hole through the bread), spread with peanut butter and cover with bird seed. I’m sure your neighbourhood birds would appreciate it in this weather. brrrr.

3. Fancy bread and butter pudding- Use any spices and flavours to create a unqiue bread and butter pudding but to make it more filling use some stewed or roasted fruit like pears or apples as in the example above.

4. Panzanella- A classic way to revitalise stale bread. Soaked in tomato juice, vinegar and oilve oil the bread makes this salad a substantial meal. Some recipes call for toasting the bread first and other let the bread soak up the juices making them soggier, but i like a mix so you get both textures and flavours of soft and toasted.

5. Ribollita-  Another perfect dish for using up leftovers and not just bread. Toss in anything from the fridge or cupboard that needs using up and you’ve got a brilliant soup to eat. Ribollita means re boiled as it would often be made in a big batch and eaten again and again throughout the week so this is one that tastes better the day after.

Hope you enjoyed the more unusual take on 15 uses, you can check out full recipes and tutorials on my pinterest board 15 uses: leftovers . What is the one thing that you waste the most when it comes to food? I’d like to find some more helpful recipes and activities for another edition. Maybe though your as good as gold and manage to control your food waste, if so well done! If you want a little bit of help though….check out http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for some really useful info and more great recipes.

Lorna

X xxx