One of the things I am constantly working on is limiting my food waste. A few things I do to help reduce waste are:
- freeze produce that is about to spoil (washing, peeling, chopping if need be before freezing)
- make soups or smoothies with produce that is about to spoil
- make pesto with herbs that are about to spoil and the freeze the pesto in ice cube trays
- freeze leftovers that we are tired of eating
- make breadcrumbs or croutons with bread that is about to go stale
- re-purpose leftovers (for example, pasta sauce or sauteed vegetables on pizza, roasted vegetables on a sandwich, grilled meat or vegetables in a taco)
The other way of reducing food waste is to use parts of vegetables that normally get discarded. Broccoli stems can be peeled and the tender part used just as you would the broccoli florets. Beet greens can be sauteed and treated like spinach. Mushroom stems and vegetable scraps can be used to make an umami-rich mushroom stock.
When I saw that Jeanine of Love and Lemons made Pickled Chard Stems, I knew that I had to try them. Not only are they beautiful, especially if you are able to get rainbow chard, but the recipe could not be easier. It is a genius way to use up the tougher stems of Swiss chard that are not always preferable in certain dishes. I made some minor changes to the recipe based on what I had on hand and what I thought I would prefer, and the result is delicious. I especially like them sprinkled on brown rice with toasted nuts and a salty cheese. Talk about flavor-packed.
Pickled Chard Stems
1 1/2 cups chopped Swiss chard stems (this was one bunch of chard at the grocery store)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
3/4 cup Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
Clean the chard stems by placing them in a bowl with enough water so that they are floating. Swish them around so that the dirt sinks to the bottom, and scoop them out to drain. I did this in a salad spinner which made quick work for washing and draining. Sprinkle the chard with salt and place into a clean jar. I used a 16 ounce jar.
Heat a small saucepan to medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow to toast until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar and honey to the pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool.
When cool, pour liquid over chard stems in jar. Make sure the stems are covered. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, but overnight is even better. Sprinkle on grain salads or rice dishes for added crunch and a bit of zest. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.