You know that guilty feeling you get when you uncover an ingredient that’s on its last legs?
Well a few weeks ago I had a case of it. Big time.
The ingredient in question was a bunch of bok choy (why is it always a vegetable?).
For almost a week, every time I’d see it lurking in the crisper drawer, I’d think ‘Man, I really need to use that bok choy’.
And promptly forget about it.
Then one day I noticed the outer leaves were starting to turn yellow. Which made me feel guilty enough to take my sorry-looking bok choy out of the fridge.
With dinner already organized, I couldn’t think of a way to use the bok choy then. So I decided to ‘prep it’ so my future self would be able to find it a home before the yellow took over…
It only took a few minutes to wash, discard the incriminating yellowish leaves and finely chop the rest. But the best part? I instantly felt better.
Then I popped my prepped bok choy in the most visible place in the fridge. Done.
And you know what?
The next day I used my bok choy with some canned tuna in a quick salad for lunch. It was delicious, fresh and crunchy. A happy end to the story.
So what is the secret to using that ingredient you’ve been procrastinating about?
There are two basic steps…
1. Prep your ingredient
This can be as simple as washing and chopping a bunch of bok choy. Or more complicated like soaking and cooking a pot of beans. The key is to get your ingredient to a state where it’s ready to be used with minimal effort.
Chefs call this ‘mise en place’. It’s critical for enabling a restaurant to get your meal on the table ASAP.
Of course, this chef ‘trick’ is something that we home cooks can really benefit from as well. Especially when we come home from a long hard day and need to get something delicious and nutritious on the table right when we have no energy left.
2. Make it visible
You can’t ‘decide’ to use an ingredient if you’re not thinking about it. And if you’re anything like me, your probably not going to remember its there unless it’s staring you in the face.
It’s a simple idea but I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me avoid waste!
This is really more of an idea than an actual recipe. The possibilities are endless not only for the types of veg you use but how you incorporate them into your cooking. This is without a doubt the number one habit I’ve developed which has helped me eat more veg across all my meals, especially breakfast and lunch.
enough for: 2
takes: 10 minutes
1 carrot, peeled
1 beetroot, scrubbed and peeled
1. Grate veg using your food processor or a box grater. Toss together.
2. Use as per one of the suggestions below or store in an airtight container in the fridge.
breakfast – serve with poached egg or two and a good dollop of homemade mayo (one of my all time favourite breakkies).
side salad – toss in a little lemon juice and olive oil and season generously. Lovely with BBQ or pan fried fish or chicken.
quick n’ easy lunch – toss in a drained can of tuna, salmon or sardines and serve with lashings of lemon juice.
another lunch salad – make a quick dressing of 1 part vinegar and 2 parts olive oil. Toss in the grated veg and crumble over some marinated or regular feta. Finish with toasted almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts.
rice / couscous alternative – serve grated raw veg as an alternative to steamed rice or couscous. I just serve my hot curry or Tajine on a bed of the cold raw veg and enjoy the temperature and textural contrast.
different veg – also good with broccoli but for some reason grated broccoli goes slimy after a couple of days so I only make enough to eat in the next 24hours if I’m using broc. Zucchini or other summer squash are brilliant as is fennel.
don’t grate – asparagus unless you want asparagus soup!
hand chopped veg – great with capsicum (bell peppers), snow peas, sugarsnap peas, green beans, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus.
herby – toss in fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, mint or coriander (cilantro).