In the US, we waste roughly 40 percent of all the food we produce. Food production is a resource-intensive process, requiring water, energy, land, soil, human labor and an elaborate web of production, processing and distribution. When we throw away food, all these resources are squandered.
Fortunately, the food waste dilemma is solvable. While the problem must be addressed at every sector of the food system, as individual food consumers, there are plenty of ways we can all help reduce waste – especially since there’s so much room for improvement. If you are interested in embracing a more sustainable lifestyle, eliminating food waste is an important and easy way to start. Reducing your food waste is actually very simple; all you need to do is buy what you need and eat what you buy.
If you buy more food than you can eat, you’ll eventually have to throw some away. Avoid waste by shopping smarter. Make a plan of what to cook for the next week based on what is available seasonally. Write a shopping list based on that plan.
Make a conscious effort to keep track of the food you have – and then remember to eat it.
Learn to store foods properly to keep them fresh as long as possible. Use this chart to learn this information: http://www.savethefood.com/food-storage
The dinners this week will highlight my frugal nature. If you recall last week, I made several toppings for grilled steak and those leftover toppings can become the star in a new dish.
The leftover topping recipes can be found here.
Pizza with Peppers and Onions
- 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
- 1 cup leftover Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic Sauce (see link above)
- 2 cups leftover Peppers and Onion Topping (see link above)
- 1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the lowest position in the oven.
Spread the pizza dough to the edges in a greased pizza pan.
Top the dough with the mozzarella slices.
Spread the tomato sauce over the cheese. Top with the peppers and onions and then with the oregano. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.
Place the pizza on the bottom oven rack and bake 15-20 minutes.
Chicken Cutlets with Mediterranean Salad
- 2 thin chicken cutlets
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup leftover olive topping (see link above)
- 1 small head of romaine lettuce, sliced
- Half a cucumber, sliced
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1/4 of a red onion, sliced
- 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
Set up the dredging stations: one rimmed plate for the beaten egg, one plate for the flour and one plate for the bread crumbs.
Using a fork, coat the chicken first in the flour (shaking off any excess), then in the egg, then in the crumbs, pressing the chicken into the crumbs to thoroughly coat.
Saute each breast in the oil for about 2 minutes on each side. The cutlets are cooked when chicken is firm to the touch but not rock hard.
Remove and drain the chicken on a paper-towel-lined dinner plate.
For the salad:
In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine with the other salad ingredients.
Whisk together the olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss and serve alongside the chicken cutlet.
Extra sausage may also be used for pizza or as an addition to pasta. See recipe below.
- 1 lb Italian pork sausage
- 1 cup leftover cooked peppers and onions (see link above)
Prepare an outdoor grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas). If using a charcoal grill, open vents on the bottom of the grill, then light the charcoal.
When the charcoal turns grayish white about 15 minutes after lighting, the grill is ready. If using a gas grill, preheat the burners on high, covered for 10 minutes.
On a charcoal grill, spread the coals over the rear two-thirds of the firebox and leaving the front third coal-free. On a gas grill, turn off all but one burner. Sausages should be grilled over indirect heat.
There’s no need to prick sausages with toothpicks or a fork before grilling. Perforating the casing only releases flammable fats, juices and flavor.
Lightly brush or rub the casings with olive oil. This prevents sticking and makes them extra crisp.
Handle with care. The key to a juicy sausage is to keep the casing intact. Use tongs and don’t break the sausage skin when turning.
Grill the sausages over the indirect part of the grill until crusty and golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes.
Rotini Pasta with Creamy Pesto and Zucchini
We planted basil last week and within a few days I had enough leaves to make pesto for this recipe.
- 12 oz rotini pasta
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
- 1/4 cup half & half
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Pinch of salt and black pepper
- 2 grilled Italian sausage links, diced, if using
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Boil a pot of water and add salt and rotini. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
In the same pot, heat the olive oil and add the diced zucchini and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes and add the diced sausage. Cook another 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the pesto and half & half. Stir well. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and cooked pasta. Mix well and serve.