On yesterday I talked about soup, and today I want to talk about what to do with all those extra vegetables you have laying around. I know for myself, I bought a few produce in bulk, i.e. onions, carrots, celery, garlic, etc. and now I need to find a way to use them up. Although fresh is always best, the shelf life is not as long – which is good, as that means you are eating “living food.” No wonder I have felt more alive in my body lately. I believe with every bite of whole real foods, I am imparting sustainable life to my body. So with that said, let’s talk about what to do with your extras.
Now this idea came to me after enjoying a wonderful soup I had made and noticing that the same vegetables kept reappearing in other recipes. So I am like, “there has to be a way to reduce those vegetables down and make a . . .roux.” With that, the idea of what I call a “vegetable roux” came to mind. It is the same concept of a flour roux, but with vegetables. You could reduce these down, puree in a blender, and freeze in ice cube trays or small containers. Then, when it is time to make soup, beans, or any other vegetable where you need a good concentrated vegetable puree stock flavor, just add it to your dish to impart a nice homemade background flavor. Here is the recipe I came up with.
Fresh celery, onions, carrots, garlic, and shallots (if you have it), chopped up fine, about 4 cups total combined.
Olive oil (about 1 cup)
Vegetable stock (about 1 cup)
Salt and Pepper (about 1/2 tsp each)
Directions: (Recipe can be doubled, just use a stockpot)
Preheat a large 12- inch deep skillet on the stovetop on medium. Add the olive oil to the pan and heat through. Next, add all the fresh vegetables in together. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables down until they are beginning to release their sugar and caramelize (meaning turning a light golden brown) and pasty in appearance, stirring constantly, about 10-15 minutes or so. This will take some time, so be patient. Be careful not to burn it, you just want a nice, golden, reduced looking mixture. Next, slowly add the vegetable stock, allowing time for it to be incorporated into the mixture without being watery (You might have to use more or less depending on how much vegetables you have) and allow to reduce some more. You may puree in a blender if you want a smooth mixture, or leave with bits of vegetables if you want it a little chunky. Let cool off the heat completely, and store in small pint or smaller sized freezer containers, or spoon in an ice tray and freeze, then pop and store cubes in freezer bags to protect from freezer burn. I like the ice tray idea better as you can just pop in as many cubes you need in a dish.
This idea will work for tomatoe sauce too, but not for starchy vegetables like potatoes. You could add a bay leaf while simmering the stock down to give it more depth in flavor.
For leftover peppers, onions, mushrooms, zuchinni, or squash – grill or roast them! You can use those in future pasta dishes or in soups to add extra flavor.
For fruits like pineapple, peeled bananas, and berries that you don’t want to waste, just cut up and store flat in a freezer bag in the freezer, and use up soon in your breakfast smoothies.
I hope this helps you to use up what you have and not create waste. I look at the money I pay for good produce as an investment, and getting as much use out of it as possible is always a good thing. Oh…and don’t throw away that steamed brown rice…I’m thinking of how to make a rice pudding out of that for dessert 😉