Here in the UK, we waste way more food than we realise.
We shop without checking what we’ve already got at home. We boil too much rice. And, we leave salads to wilt in the fridge, bin tonnes of stale bread (literally) and end up with smelly cartons of out-of-date milk because we bought a spare, just in case.
As Love Food Hate Waste points out, when it comes to the food we buy, we really are spoilt for choice – but we can still avoid being spoiled rotten. One way to do this is by getting on board with #FlungTogetherFood. It’s a movement all about creating delicious, simple (and sometimes a little bit random) meals that make the most out of the food we’ve already got in the house.
Earlier this week I shared a simple curry paste recipe that can be easily adapted – using whatever you have in the fridge – to create a huge variety of ‘flung together’ curries.
But I also wanted to know what some of Cardiff’s waste-conscious chefs were cooking at home, to ensure they were using up every last scrap. So, here five Cardiff chefs share their waste-busting tips to help you embrace #FlungTogetherFood.
This is a sponsored post, in collaboration with Love Food Hate Waste.
Mel’s #FlungTogetherFood Favourites
Mel Boothman runs The Penylan Pantry a sustainable deli-slash-cafe on the corner of a leafy street in Roath. She says that “‘Flung together’ is my favourite way to cook. It’s creative, reduces food waste, has no boundaries, and makes us think outside the box. I’m personally not very good at following recipes, but I love a challenge, and I hate food waste!”
Mel’s top tip for #flungtogetherfood is to just have a go; “Remember that it’s okay if it doesn’t turn out to be the perfect dinner, have fun with it, and laugh at the randomness of something you may have never put together otherwise.”
The idea is not to follow a recipe, but here are a few of Mel’s ideas to get you started:
- Leftover packet stuffing mix can be used as a base for a veggie burger. Mix it up with mashed sweet potato, herbs, onion – and cheese if you’re not vegan.
- Tinned fish goes well with with chillies, tinned tomatoes, herbs and garlic to make a quick pasta sauce.
- Half jar of apple sauce along with scraps of cheese from the fridge can be used to make tasty cheese & apple muffins/scones.
- Gherkins can be chopped up super fine and added to salsa verde as a delicious sauce for fresh fish.
- Tomato ketchup, a handful of finely chopped chillies and some paprika makes a banging homemade chilli sauce.
Lauren’s Waste-Busting Tuscan Stew
Lauren Saunders is the founder of the all-vegan Wild Thing Cafes in Grangetown & Cathays. She says “Most nights I create a flung together meal. It’s usually only on a Sunday (my day off work) that my meals aren’t created in this way- when I spend hours in the kitchen cooking & listening to the radio.
I find that it helps if you always have onion, garlic and carrots at home as they can make anything tasty. But my favourite flung-together meal is Ribollita, a Tuscan stew which uses up stale bread by adding simple tinned ingredients and whatever leftovers you have around. It’s really comforting, nourishing, hearty, and easy to make – and a dream for avoiding food waste!”
It’s best not to be too rigid with your ingredients and just use what veg or tinned beans that you have, but here is Lauren’s basic recipe for Tuscan Ribollita:
- Fry a diced onion, a few chopped cloves of garlic and some diced carrots with some fresh or dried thyme.
- Add a tin of tomatoes (or passata, whichever you have in the cupboard).
- Add a tin of cannellini beans, or any beans you have in the cupboard. If you only have baked beans you can rinse off the sauce and just use the naked beans!
- Add in a few handfuls of whatever greens you have sitting in the fridge – spinach, cavolo nero and chard are all in season at the moment.
- You could also add in any extra veg you have – for example, left over roasted veggies from last night’s dinner!
- Add in some large chunks of stale bread with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper.
- Leave to simmer for 45 mins then serve.
Nick MacCleod is the man behind Cardiff’s One Mile Bakery – he’s big on baking real bread from scratch, and on making his Sunday Roast leftovers go further with some flung together food.
Nick says “Monday night dinner in our house is always based on the Sunday roast leftovers. Chicken is often added to a stir fry, and flung together with a mix of veggies, garlic, chilli, lime, soy and ginger. Lamb is fried with a little onion, cooked down with the vegetables, then topped with mash (great if you have leftover potatoes) for a shepherds pie. Similarly leftover beef, gravy and veg can be topped with a pastry lid, too – but it’s not about following a specific recipe, it’s all about using up whatever we’ve already got.”
Laura’s Lazy Leftovers Pie
Laura Graham runs The Tidy Kitchen Company and also creates incredible wedding food over at Tidy Weddings (in fact she was my wedding caterer). She admits that knowing how to use leftovers and random bits and bobs can intimidate others, “Sometimes people just don’t know where to start.” But as Laura’s often working really long hours, many of her evening meals consist of scraps and left over pieces that she has put together – a great example of this is her leftovers pie with a crust topping, instead of potato.
Laura said, “I always have oat milk in the fridge, leftover cream from other recipes and random ends of soft cheeses. I make a cheese sauce and thicken it quickly with cornflour and water, rather than making a roux. The mix of different cheeses gives it a great complexity and the cornflour thickens it within seconds. I pour this over any roasted veg / bits of fish / chunks of chicken I’ve got lying around in the fridge and pop it into a deep ovenproof dish.
Next I use a stale slice of bread, the end of some Parmesan and sometimes a chunk of chorizo I might have left over. I blitz all of them (separately) in a Magimix, stir them together, and then sprinkle over my pie filling. Pop this in the oven and in 25-30 minutes it’s golden and it’s done – and all made from stuff I already had in the house.”
James’ Random Chicken Ramen
James is the man behind Matsudai Ramen, the trendy pop up that has taken Cardiff by storm over the last few months (tickets usually sell out within minutes)! Naturally, James’ favourite way to create a flung together meal is to make ramen.
James said, “For a magical bowl of chicken broth that is super easy to make and basically free, you can use the bones that are leftover any time you roast a whole bird.
Use the leftover carcasses to make a beautiful, clear broth (chintan) into shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. Just cover the bones with water by an inch or so and cook for 6 hours on a low heat, so an occasional bubble comes to the surface but it never comes to a boil. Next, fling together any leftover scraps of garlic, onion, ginger, cabbage, or carrot you may have in the house. If you’ve got a pressure cooker you can do the above in 30 minutes on high pressure with a natural release.
To make ramen, take a packet of noodles from your local asian grocer, or use angel hair spaghetti cooked in water with a teaspoon of baking soda to mimic the alkaline qualities of ramen noodles; then you’ll need 10% of the volume of broth in soy sauce (so if you’re using 350ml of broth, you’ll need 35ml of soy sauce) and a touch of sugar. Top with a boiled egg, some spring onions and whatever scraps of meat you’ve got left from the roast, and serve.
For triple the value, you can even re-use those same chicken bones to make a creamy chicken paitan broth. Just boil the bones again, on a rolling boil, for about 8 hours, crushing them as you go with a potato masher. Then drain and season a portion with a healthy pinch of salt. One chicken – three different meals!”
For more #FlungTogetherFood inspiration, head over to Instagram.