The holidays mean eating lots of food. Lots of food may lead to the same amount of food waste with all the overconsumption from parties, events, and the wide selection of traditional meals offered in abundance during this time of year.
News flash! You can recycle your delicious leftovers, transform them into new recipes and prepare your holiday dinner to impress your loved ones.
Here’s an interchangeable 4-course meal guide with different kinds of recipes and food items. Once you learn the formula, you can play around with it and concoct your zero-waste meal plans.
The bonus? You won’t have to deal with another last-minute grocery store run. Not even for that last container of hickory honey ham.
Stay tuned to learn how to revive your excess food and make it gourmet all over again.
Appetizer - Carrot tartare
Everyone likes a fancy tartare to awaken the taste buds and start a meal right. Rather than your traditional seafood or meat tartare, consider the possibilities with your leftover veggies, such as the creative recipes listed here.
Carrots give the same colour and appeal as a meat tartare, but they’re a much healthier option and help sustain a zero-waste meal plan. This recipe uses up entire vegetables, so you don’t have to worry about throwing away or composting your scraps.
- 1kg carrots roughly 8 cups chopped
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼-½ cups grapeseed oil (feel free to substitute with any fatty oil)
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup capers
- ⅓ cup shallot, minced (or red onions)
- ⅛ cup dijon (or any grainy mustard will do!)
- ½ cup dill
- ½ lemon, juiced and zested
- ¼ cup corn starch
- Peel or mash carrots, juice the remaining and save the pulp
- Boil the pulp over medium heat until it becomes a syrup texture, then set aside
- Combine sugar and vinegar over the same medium heat until dissolved
- Remove from heat, add carrots and let cool at room temperature
- Heat grapeseed oil in a frying pan, fry the egg until crispy, then transfer to a blender cup
- Return to pan and fry capers, then add to the same cup
- Add shallots, mustard, dill, lemon juice and zest to cup, blend and slowly drizzle the rest of the oil until the mixture thickens
- Add two tablespoons of oil to the pan and fry carrots over medium heat to a crisp
- Combine juice pulp and the rest of the ingredients, mix well to make an aioli blend
- Place some of the carrot syrup in the centre of the plate. Scoop the tartare with two spoons, forming it into an egg shape on top. Garnish with crispy carrot peels and pickles, and enjoy!
Main course - Shepherd’s pie
Ever whip up a shepherd’s pie with your leftovers? Not only is it more flavourful than the standard, but it’s also a quick remedy for revamping the same old, habitual recipes. It’s great not to be wasteful, but even better to enjoy the process while doing so.
You can combine the main and side dish with just potatoes, veggies and protein. However, should you wish to amplify the flavours, here’s a delicious pan-fried alternative to play around with the ingredients you’ve got at home.
Meat layer (Leftover roast, ground beef, roast beef, etc.):
- 1 cup carrot
- 1 cup onion (yellow or white)
- 1 cup peas
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 3 cups of your choice of meat
- ½ teaspoon thyme (dried or fresh)
- ½ teaspoon parsley (dried or fresh)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 cups mashed potatoes
- pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
- Sautée chopped onions on a saucepan over medium heat
- Add leftover meat, cook until tender
- Throw in your choice of leftover veggies
- Sprinkle thyme over meat
- In a separate saucepan, reheat mashed potatoes over low heat
- Add in heavy cream, mix well, then a pinch of salt and pepper
- Turn off heat, pour potatoes over meat, then add butter
- Sprinkle the remainder of thyme and parsley, serve hot and enjoy!
Side dish - Roasted squash
You can use all parts of squash to amp up your otherwise redundant meals. The squash has many edible possibilities: seeds serve as a garnish when roasted, peels can go in soup broth and the flesh as a hearty side dish like roasted squash.
This recipe allows you to cook with different types of squash, gourd and pumpkins to ensure there isn’t any waste. That way, you can completely immerse yourself in squash season. Just research the time frame to leave them roasting, as the cooking time depends on variety and type.
- 2 small honey or butternut squash (any squash or pumpkin welcome)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or any other cooking oil)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon thyme (fresh or dried)
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Use whatever remains of squash (peels and all) and remove the seeds, then cut into slices or mash them, depending on personal preference
- Arrange in a glass baking dish, then drizzle with oil, flipping them over once to make sure an even coat on both sides
- Sprinkle garlic, thyme, cumin seeds, salt and pepper, then let roast for around 40 minutes or brown to your liking
- Best served alongside your shepherd’s pie. Bon appetite!
Dessert - Apple crumble
Who doesn’t love a crumble dessert? Crunchy with a soft interior; the perfect hybrid of tangy and sweet. Apple crumbles can be replaced or added with any other overripe or mature fruits lingering on the countertop. Not to mention, they're easy to bake and most certainly a crowd-pleaser.
You can experiment with different fruit combinations to find your go-to without wasting any of the products you’ve already bought and kept stored at home. And to make the most use out of them by setting the rinds aside to use as vinegar.
- 8 medium apples, sliced or cubed
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup coconut oil (can be replaced with any fats like butter, margarine, etc.)
Here’s a list of other fruits you can replace or combine with apples to step up your game!
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Pour lemon juice over apple slices, coat evenly, then place on glass baking dish and sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg
- Combine flour, oats and brown sugar in a bowl
- Add coconut oil to the mixture last, stir ingredients until crumbly, then sprinkle over apple slices
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown
- Serve fresh and enjoy!
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