I hate to waste food. This has become a bit of a joke in our house because if it won’t freeze, I will make sure that it’s eaten – by someone! In our kitchen at home, I try never to throw out any food that could be put to use – and most things can be used in some way. That’s why today I’m going to share some of my top tips on how to minimise food waste and be Greener Together. If we all make some simple changes to the way we shop and consume food we can help reduce food waste in Scotland and help tackle climate change.
During the festive season, we are bombarded by food advertising campaigns while supermarkets shelves are full to bursting with special offers and tempting treats. My advice? Check your fridge and freezer before buying more. Take a look in the bottom drawer of the fridge, or maybe in the back corner – you’re bound to find some overripe fruit, veg, leftovers or a pint of milk that doesn’t have a long life ahead of it. These can all be used, whether it be for soups, chutneys, one pot bakes or thrown into the slow cooker.
This time of year really makes me think about how lucky I am and throwing anything out makes me feel very guilty indeed. I often make far too much food, but this either goes to the freezer (and so to lunches and dinners in the forthcoming weeks), or to friends and neighbours. I rarely visit people without bringing a dish of some kind!
I am also conscious that as many of my friends start families of their own, they are likely to be grateful for time-saving food deliveries. A shepherds pie here, a big batch of homemade pasta sauce there – it all counts and these one pot dishes are a fantastic way of using up the leftovers at the bottom of your fridge.
Get Creative in the Kitchen
This particular recipe is one of my favourites – it is easy, delicious and always uses up some veg from our fridge, as well as gives you a use for some homemade chicken stock using a chicken or turkey carcass. Advocate for zero food waste, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, developed this recipe, and we have made variations of it numerous times – depending on our leftovers!
Dig out the old apples from the bottom of the fruit bowl, the lemons from the back of the fridge, defrost some stock you’ve been meaning to use and grab the barley from the bottom of that cupboard – I’m sure you’ve got some back there! Old onions and garlic can be used up, and any spinach and kale can be thrown in at the end for an extra nutritional boost.
It’s great the following day too, simply pick off all the remaining chicken, add to the barley and kale mixture and sprinkle over a little bit of parmesan to create a nutty, risotto-style dish. (Don’t forget, you can make another pot of stock using this carcass too – perfect for homemade, winter warming soup.)
ROAST CHICKEN WITH APPLE AND THYME BARLEY STUFFING RECIPE
FOR THE BARLEY STUFFING
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g pearl barley
600ml hot chicken stock (could also be turkey stock)
50g dried apples, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice of whole lemon
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE CHICKEN
1 medium-large chicken
1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE KALE AND LEEK
200g/7oz kale stemmed and chopped (Spinach can be used as a substitute)
knob of unsalted butter
2 leeks, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 210C/200C Fan/Gas 6-7.
For the barley mixture, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the barley and stir well.
Pour in 450ml/16fl oz stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the grain is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed: about 35 minutes for barley, a bit less for spelt. Top up with a little more stock or boiling water if needed.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped dried apples, lemon zest and juice, and plenty of salt and pepper. Set aside in the warm pan.
While the barley is cooking, put it in a roasting dish drizzled with rapeseed oil. Season the skin and cavity with salt and pepper. Put the bay leaves and one sprig of thyme in the cavity. Tuck the remaining thyme and chopped onion underneath the chicken.
Roast the chicken in the hot oven on its side for 10 minutes. Remove and turn the chicken onto its other side for a further 10 minutes. Baste the chicken with its own juices and roast for a further 25 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven, and spoon some of the barley stuffing inside the cavity. Make sure that the cavity isn’t too full – about half way full will do the trick.
Put the remaining barley in the tin around the bird. Add more stock if it looks too dry at any point.
Turn the oven setting down to 180C/170C Fan/Gas 4. Return the tin to the oven and roast for a further 30 minutes, or until the skin is golden-brown and crisp.
While the chicken is cooking, steam the kale or spinach until tender. Soften chopped leeks gently fried in butter and mix. This can be mixed into the barley mixture or served alongside it.
Carve the meat and serve with spoonfuls of the barley stuffing, mixed with the buttery kale and leeks.
This barley mixture is perfect for using up festive leftovers. Simply add in chipolatas, chopped roast potatoes, leftover roast veg or turkey.
Delicious! Now…what’s in the fridge?