Thursday, July 30, 2009

Garbage Bowl Pasta Salad: Waste not, overambitious grocery shopper

Right now there is a large (I suspect expired) container of Fage yogurt, six deteriorating asparagus spears and one semi-soft red pepper in my refrigerator that are all approximately 24-hours away from the trash can.

And I feel terrible about it.

While my parents weren’t the type to demand I finish my plate because “children are starving in Africa,” and I regularly dismissed my plain, well-done hamburgers after a bite or two as a child, today, I’ve become somewhat paranoid about wasting food. Part of it stems from the satisfaction I get when emptying out my refrigerator and finding a place for every broccoli floret, shallot and garlic clove, but part of it also stems from my increased awareness of just how much food costs.

Plus, I feel like if I use it all, I can justify spending $3.99/lb on asparagus or $2.99/lb on sweet and tart Pink Lady apples (the best varietal aside from the Honeycrisp).

As a result, I’ve started to get in the habit of actually using up ingredients I buy for some of my “one-off” recipes like the corn soup and white bean bruschetta I made for dinner two weeks ago. The effort reaped a considerable amount of leftovers that included extra husked corn kernels, tomatoes, white beans, basil, and roasted red pepper, and I couldn’t stand the thought of seeing all or any of them go to waste.

Using some roasted shallots, whole wheat orzo and feta cheese that I always have on hand, I whipped up a hearty and healthy summer pasta salad that I dressed with my standard balsamic vinaigrette (balsalmic vinegar + lemon juice + squirt of agave syrup + dollop of Dijon mustard + olive oil + salt, pepper). Not only did I get to assuage my guilty conscience, but I also had a delightful lunch to look forward to whilst I updated excel documents at work the next morning.

It was a win-win. And a tasty one at that.


Jenn said...

Nice. I'd have some of that. It's a mish-mosh of deliciousness. Great job with using what you had.

Gastronomer said...

I totally feel the same way about throwing out produce. And it's good to know that it's not just me who feels warm and accomplished inside when I empty out the fridge ;-)

yutjangsah said...

lookin' good.

Elra said...

Yummy and Healthy! May Elra take a bite too?

perfect bite said...

YUM!!! I love that idea - sounds like it could be dinner for me one of these days!

The Blonde Duck said...

Mish-mash's are the best! I'm also obsessive about wasting food.

Diana said...

Jenn - Why, thank you! I was a little bit proud of my resourcefulness!

Cathy - I totally feel warm and accomplished when I empty out the fridge! I should be in a panic (fear of famine), but it's so completely satisfying! Plus it means I get to go grocery shopping which is one of my most favorite things to do!

Sook - You're lookin' good yourself.

Elra - Only if you give me a bit of one of your milano's in return! ;)

Dana - It would be a great dinner -- especially on a warm summer night.

Miranda - You, obsessive? Noooo... ;)

Esi said...

In my effort to not waste food, I haven't bought anything good in over a week...yikes. Therefore this salad screams all kinds of yummy. I want some, thanks :)

Erica said...

I hear ya. One of my close friends works for the food bank and shes really opened my eyes to just how important it is to NOT waste food!

Anna A. said...

Yah you like the Fage =) This salad is something I would totally do too. Waste not my lady friend! Here ye hereye!

Reeni♥ said...

Sometimes the best meals come from cleaning out the fridge! This sounds comforting and yummy.

Diana said...

Esi - Aw, but you have a good excuse - you're moving! I hope that all goes well!

Erica - It really disturbs me to think of all the food that goes to waste -- especially at restaurants.

Anna - I haven't eaten it plain yet, but I love using it in recipes!

Reeni - Most definitely! I was so excited to use up all my yummy leftovers!